honey harvesting

We’ve had our hives for three summers but this is the first time we’ve really gotten to harvest any honey and it has been very exciting!  The first year you have a hive you aren’t supposed to rob it of much, if any, honey.  What the bees make the first year you leave in there for them to live off of in the winter then the second year they’ll have produced enough for you to get honey for yourself.  However our first year our queen bee died and our hive failed so we had to start over in year #2.  Now finally in year #3 we’ve gotten some honey!  Yay!

The type of hive we have is called a top bar hive.  They are different from the traditional hives that you’re probably used to that look like lots of square boxes stacked on top of each other.  Michael is the total mastermind behind all this beekeeping stuff so you’d have to ask him why he chose top bar because I really have no idea.

He built the hives himself and they look like this.  He even built some little windows into them so we can peek in and check without having to open them up and disturb them.

top bar beehive 1top bar beehive 2top bar beehive 3With a top bar have you don’t have the frames that other hives have.  You just have a bunch of these bars, basically slats of wood, and the bees build the whole entire frame and comb themselves down from the top of the bar.  When you pull a completed one out it looks like this.  Well actually, this one is almost complete.  You can see at the very bottom there where they built the comb but had not yet filled it with honey or capped it off before we removed it.
honey harvest - top bar combTo remove the honey from the comb we break it up into smaller chunks and strain it through a strainer.

honey harvest - honeycombStraining it is not hard at all but it’s super slow and time consuming.  Last summer even though we didn’t rob our hives we still got a little bit of honey – I think one of the bars was being formed unevenly so Michael had to remove it and we were able to get a small amount of honey from that one section.  It was tedious to hold the strainer over the bowl just to get that little bit out so this year when we knew we’d be doing quite a bit more we weren’t sure how to do it without someone having to stand there all day and strain the honey.

Fortunately Michael put his engineering mind to work and built this simple but brilliant stand that holds the strainer on it’s own.  All we had to do was occasionally use a spoon to crush up the comb, stir it around, or add more comb.  And keep an eye on the bowls to make sure they didn’t overflow of course!  But then the rest of the day we just let it sit and do it’s thing.

honey harvest - strainer stand 2

honey harvest - strainer stand 5Watching the honey run through the strainer and into the bowl is mesmerizing!

honey harvest - strainer stand 3When all was said and done we were left with several bowls of beautiful honey.  I believe we got five quarts out of four bars from the hive.  There are a lot more bars to do, we just haven’t had time to keep harvesting!  Hopefully this weekend we can get to it.

In fact, if you harvest early enough in the summer then you can actually get two full rounds in before time to close them up for the winter.  We didn’t do that in time this year but maybe next year we can and that’ll double the amount of honey we get!

Once you strain the honey there is the beeswax from the comb left.  I didn’t get a picture of that but Michael is going to clean it up for me and I’ll have that to use for my various DIY projects like making deodorant or lip balm.  I might even dabble with homemade candles.

We also saved out a bit of the comb with honey to give to people who like to chew on that.  That’s not my thing (in fact, I don’t actually like the taste of honey by itself *gasp*!) but I do think it’s very pretty!

honey harvest - comb

Love the look of the honey all bottle up!

honey harvest - bottled honeyWe need to come up with a cute name for our honey and make some labels.  We don’t have enough for selling this year but we might someday in the future! (suggestions for a name are welcome :) )

thoughts after a year of budgeting

The end of August marked our one year budget-versary.  We celebrated by eating Bruster’s ice cream while we did our monthly budget meeting to plan for September (a treat that has become much more rare since we started budgeting!).

brusters ice cream

I shared some about our budgeting journey when I did my Money Monday series a few months ago.  You can read the beginning of our budgeting story here.  The nutshell version is this: We did not have a budget for the first five years of our marriage.  In the back of our minds we knew we needed one but we were not big spenders so with two incomes we were more than able to pay our bills and buy the things we wanted without problem.  Fortunately we did not have any debt other than our home mortgage.  After I quit my job to stay home with Hudson we continued spending as we had been…but realized that spending that way on one income was draining our savings and would quickly get us into financial trouble if we didn’t do anything about it.  So we started budgeting.

Even though I was the one who had originally wanted a budget, I also was the one who was most resistant when it came time to actually put it into action.  Michael was totally on board and ready to save a bunch of money; I was not thrilled about not being able to buy what I wanted when I wanted to.  I knew it was necessary but I was not happy about it.

So how do I feel a year later?

Well…I still don’t love budgeting but it has become a routine thing that I accept and am used to.

Then: I hated the monthly budget meetings.  I didn’t want to talk about how much money we had (or didn’t have) and try to figure out how to make it fit all the categories we wanted it to.  Fortunately Michael would do a lot of the prep work ahead of time so that I just basically had to look over everything and approve or give my input/suggestions.

Now: I actually look forward to the meetings!  Not because I just love hashing out the budget but because (in a stroke of brilliance) Michael decided we should start having monthly budget parties with a special treat (hence the ice cream) and so I’m all about having a meeting if it means I get a treat!  Plus now that we’ve been doing it for a year it takes much less time because we have a pretty good idea of how much money goes in each category.

Then: Our lack of money was depressing.  We had depleted a large chunk of our savings right before Hudson was born when we bought my van so we were starting out without much extra money built up.  Thankfully we weren’t in the negative dealing with lots of debt (other than our house) that we had to pay off but it was still discouraging.

Now: We have saved a significant amount, more than I ever thought possible being on just one income!  When I look at our savings accomplishments in the past 12 months I am seriously blown away.  We roughly followed Dave Ramsey’s plan and suggestions so our main savings goals were to have a $1,000 emergency fund, 3-6 months of living expenses saved up, and then some various other things we were saving for (vacation, new computer, new car, etc.).  It took a while but we got our emergency fund and our back-up-living-expenses completely “filled up” and made good progress on our other smaller savings goals.  Now we can turn that “extra” money toward paying down more on our house.

Then: It was hard to see the big picture.  When we first started saving for certain things we’d put just $50 or $100 or something small-ish in a category.  The first few months I’d look at our tiny vacation fund or tiny computer replacement fund and think that we would never save enough to buy those things.

Now: After a year of budgeting that $50 has turned into $600 or that $100 has turned into $1200.  We’re quite a bit closer to a new computer or going on vacation or a new car or whatever.

Then: Getting the hang of entering everything single penny I spent was so hard to remember.  Figuring out what category certain purchases came from was a pain.

Now:  It’s…easier.  I am still not great about remembering to enter purchases immediately.  I’m usually the one at the end of the month trying to figure out where that random $5.00 went off to.  Or Michael will see a purchase on our online banking and enter it into our budgeting software before I ever get around to doing it myself.

Figuring out the categories has gotten a lot easier.  We still encounter purchases that we’re not exactly sure where they should come from and we frequently update and change the categories to meet our needs.  That’s the beauty of our budget though!

Regrets?  About budgeting – none.  What I regret is that we didn’t start this sooner.  I look at how much we’ve saved this year alone, on just one income, and I think about how much more we could have already saved if we’d been budgeting during the five years when we had two incomes.

Other thoughts?  I’ve learned a lot during this whole process.  I’ve become more content with what we already have.  I’ve become less of an impulse shopper (when you have very little “fun money” you become more judicious about how you spend it!).  I have more appreciation and thankfulness for the new things I do buy (a new trash can makes me ridiculously happy!).  I’ve learned to live without.  I’ve become more conscious of wants versus needs.  We’ve become better about selling things we don’t use so that we can earn some money back and an added benefit is that it helps declutter our house.  I’ve gotten better about couponing and shopping sales.

Looking ahead: Like I mentioned before we’re working on paying extra on our home mortgage so we can get that paid down faster.  We’re still working on savings for some things that we started saving for last year (like a new car) and have started saving for some other expenses we’ll have with a new baby joining us soon.  We’re also transitioning away from having multiple credit cards and hoping to drop them altogether in the future.

It’s been a journey.  A hard one, but a good one.

If you are not already budgeting in some form or fashion, you should be.  You just should.  Do it now instead of waiting.  If you need some help getting started, I gave some tips here.

We use and highly recommend the You Need a Budget software for managing our budget.  It is so helpful!  You can read my post that gives an overview of it here (our referral link is at the bottom with a discount if you decide to purchase).

Here’s to another year of budgeting!  I can’t wait to look back at the end of August 2016 and see how far we’ve come after two years!


DIY preggy belly cream

DIY preggy belly rub

I love love LOVE this super easy DIY preggy belly cream!  I wish I’d known about oils when I was pregnant with Hudson so I could have made and used this!  Unfortunately I didn’t but I was able to start using it a few months after he was born and then through this pregnancy too.

This cream is perfect to give the skin on your belly a little extra support that it definitely needs when it’s growing a baby or after delivering a baby.  ‘Cause let’s be honest…they may be cute but having a baby can wreck havoc on your body!


The beautiful thing about this recipe (and most oily recipes) is that they can easily be adapted depending on what oils you have on hand.  I’ll share my basic “base” recipe as well as some other adaptations you can do.

preggy belly cream recipe

What you need:

  • Coconut oil (I get this big container at Sam’s)
  • Vitamin E (the liquid in a bottle, not the capsules!  Those are a pain to open and squeeze the oil out)
  • Essential oils (Young Living of course!).

easy DIY preggy belly cream ingredients

What you do: Put the coconut oil in a mixer and whip it up (A stand mixer is easiest but if you have a hand mixer you can use that instead.  If you don’t have either you can whip it up with a fork or whisk.)  Add the Vitamin E and essential oils, stir those in, and pour into your container.

When you whip your coconut oil it will turn into a nice lotion-y consistency.  The last time I made this our coconut oil was a little softer than usual and so it didn’t have the lotion consistency but was just more of a thick liquid.  Really the consistency doesn’t matter as long as you’re easily able to stir in your other ingredients.

coconut oil

The recipe:

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Vitamin E
  • 20 drops lavender
  • 10 drops frankincense
  • 10 drops Gentle Baby

Whip coconut oil, add Vitamin E and essential oils, stir well, and store in a glass container.  Rub on belly like lotion.

basic preggy belly cream recipe

This is my “standard” preggy belly cream recipe but things could definitely be added or subtracted!  I created this recipe using the oils I had that I knew were great for skin. Lavender and frankincense both come in the Young Living Premium Starter Kit so I know many people have at least those two – and if those are the only two oils that you have from this recipe then just increase the amount of frankincense and leave out the Gentle Baby.  Or if you have Joy it is very similar to Gentle Baby and would be a good substitute (they both have rose which is fabulous for skin!)

I also recommend looking up each of the oils you do have in your stash and seeing which ones are recommended for skin, then adding those in.  The last time I mixed up a batch I added geranium and spikenard since they are both mentioned in one of my oil reference books for supporting the skin.  There are lots of other oils that are great for your skin that you could add in – be creative and don’t be afraid to experiment!

Young Living spikenard and geranium essential oils

Tangerine, grapefruit, and cypress would be good additions if you are using your cream after having a baby.  These oils are supposed to be good to help tighten the appearance of skin and I don’t know about you but after having a baby my belly definitely could have used some tightening!  I used some of these in my cream post-Hudson and will certainly be adding them back in after this baby is born too.

grapefruit, Young Living tangerine, and cypress essential oils

Now go forth and make your pregnant belly happy with this luscious cream!

(Not using essential oils yet?  I’d love to help you get started!  Check out this page to find out more.)

Hudson’s 19 month update

19 months – time flies when you’re having fun!


Well I didn’t weigh or measure him this month but we’ve noticed that his stomach is definitely pooching out of his 18 month pajamas so it’s time to go up a size in those.  I remember my mom saying that we used to chunk up for a bit and then shoot up in height and slim back out so I wonder if that’s what he’s about to do.  His feet have also outgrown some of his size 4 and 5 shoes.

I noticed these little blue shorts are getting too tight which is a shame because they are so adorable with some of his Sunday shirts (and that bowtie!).  I bet we’ll be in 24 month clothes by the fall!

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Hudson got his second canine tooth this month (top left), which brings his teeth to a total of 14!  Wow!  His bottom two canines have not started poking through yet – they look they are going to be difficult though.

This month we started brushing Hudson’s teeth with toothpaste instead of just water.

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Something new that Hudson has started this month is trying to repeat words back to us.  Now if we say “Hudson say _____” he’ll give it a try.  It doesn’t usually sound anything like the word but it’s a good start!

New signs he started using this month are airplane, train, rabbit, and watermelon.  We really haven’t worked on new signs much at all this month so I need to get back to that!

I know he has some new words but the only one I can think of right now is “help”.  He won’t ask for help yet, but if you say “Hudson, do you need help?” then he’ll say “help!”.

Probably my favorite thing that he says right now is “yes”.  He very dramatically and exaggeratedly nods his head and says an emphatic “yes!” (which sounds more like “ice” or “ites”).  It’s adorable!  Also, when you ask him a question you can see him thinking for a second whether he should answer yes or no rather than just automatically answering.

He babbles constantly and many times intently says a whole “sentence” of babbles that I can’t understand.  I know he’s trying to tell me something that’s important to him but as or right now it’s still gibberish to me!  Ha!

He loves to talk about animals – he does a combination of sign language, sounds, and actions depending on what animal we’re talking about.  I think my favorite is when he does a chameleon or lizard and he flicks his tongue in and out.  It’s so cute!


Still a pretty great eater.  Communication problems make meal times frustrating – he will tell us that he wants to eat or that he wants more, but he won’t (or can’t) always tell us what exactly he wants.  Sometimes we go through the whole list of food options and he still hasn’t picked one so I’m not sure what goes on in his little brain and what food he *thinks* we have that we aren’t offering him.

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We discovered that he really likes smoothies!  He has hijacked both mine and Michael’s smoothies on multiple occasions!

He was actually waving at me in this picture but it looks like he’s telling me that this is his smoothie now!

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We also discovered that he loves hummus.  The first time I gave it to him he used the bell pepper strips to scoop the hummus out, lick it off, and then get more.  I’m not sure he ever actually ate a bite of pepper.  After that I started giving him just the hummus in a bowl with a spoon – it’s so thick that it was really good practice for him to start learning how to use a spoon to scoop (still messy, but much less messy than if he used the spoon to try to eat soup or something!).

The only problem with the hummus is that it gave him some seriously horrible breath (hence the reason why we started using toothpaste this month!).  I mean, it was awful!  I’ll make it again since he loved it so much but this time I think I’ll leave out the garlic (I think that’s what caused the death breath).

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Meh.  Naps are pretty good as long as I lay/sit next to him the whole time.  He sleeps pretty well through the night too.  It’s just the getting him to sleep part that can be so frustrating and time consuming some (many) nights.

Also the bigger he gets the more space he takes up in the bed and he is not a very still sleeper so sharing a bed with him isn’t quite as easy breezy as it used to be.  Fun fact: he does not like covers on him at all.  If we pull the covers up over his legs he will kick and kick and kick until he gets them off or we take them off for him.  Since he sleeps in between us that means we can’t really pull the covers up over both of us anymore.  I’ve gotten accustomed to sleeping mostly under just the sheet instead of all the blankets I used to prefer and Michael just uses a separate blanket for his covers.

I tried to get him to attach to a blanket.  He uses me, or whatever shirt I’m wearing, as his “blanket”.  His favorite thing to do when he’s sleepy or upset is to lay his head on my stomach, but it has to be my bare stomach.  He’ll pull my shirt up so that he can get to my tummy and lay on it.  It’s sweet but can get a little annoying sometimes!  I thought that if he got attached to a separate blanket that might make bedtimes and tiredness a little bit easier but alas that didn’t work.  He packed the blanket around for about two days and then ignored it.

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Blankets are better for cleaning than for comfort apparently.2015-07-24_11.50.16 copy

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new skills

Hudson loves these wooden puzzles but up until now he has just played with the pieces on their own and hasn’t ever actually put the puzzle together.  This month he learned how to match the puzzle pieces to the correct spot and put the puzzle together.  That was so exciting to watch him develop that skill!

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He also has learned how to build with his legos.  He’s been playing with the pieces individually for a long time and taking apart the structures we built but he’s never put the legos together on his own (that I can recall).

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He learned how to get off our bed a few months ago but wouldn’t do it voluntarily.  This month he started using that skill more and getting off the bed by himself without being prompted.  He still likes me to get him off most of the time but sometimes he’ll do it himself.

Hudson has started “jumping”.  It’s SO funny!  His feet don’t completely leave the floor but he throws his arms up in the air like he’s jumping high and comes up on his tip toes.  Precious.

He makes all kinds of cute gestures.  It’s obvious (and a bit scary) that he watches up closely and mimics us.  He blows on his food a lot now (even when it’s not hot) and he can identify a lot of body parts that we didn’t specifically teach him.  He has always been a big kisser but this month he started kissing lots of things besides just us and making the kiss noise when he does.  It is so cute – he kisses the pictures in his book, his toys, and most adorably he kisses my tummy when we tell him to give the baby a kiss.  One day he picked up my hairbrush and started using it like a microphone.  I have no idea where he learned that but it was pretty funny!

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other stuff

Hudson is in to everything!  That’s nothing new really, but this month he’s developed a not so lovely habit of licking things – walls, shopping carts, people…not exactly things I’d prefer for him to lick.

He also created his first art masterpiece.

On our walls.

It was totally my fault for not supervising him closer while he was coloring in the living room and he had no idea that it was wrong so I couldn’t really get mad.  I know to watch him much more carefully from now on though!

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Hudson loves to read and to be read to.  It’s probably his favorite activity right now and he wants us to read to him all day long.

2015-08-04_11.05.47 copyRight now the two activities that keep him the quietest and stillest in church are for him to color or to “read” Michael’s Bible.  Michael had a waterproof Bible so the pages are really sturdy and much more suited for a rough toddler to flip through.

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Helping mommy sweep – cleaning with him underfoot and “helping” is certainly an adventure!  For all his mischievousness he really does love to help us do things.  He likes to help me clean, carry bags of groceries and unpack the groceries, load/unload the dishwasher, throw away trash, etc.

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Fixing the table with his drill.

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Happy 19 months my sweet boy!

DIY diffuser necklaces

how to make DIY diffuser necklaces

Diffuser necklaces are such a great way to use your essential oils on the go.  The way most diffuser jewelry works is you put a drop of EO on a little pad (leather, felt, or paper are popular) inside a locket that has holes in it – it acts like a mini diffuser and you can smell and benefit from your oils all day long.  Diffuser necklaces are super popular among the oily crowd and you can buy them lots of places but if you are a little bit crafty you can also make them fairly inexpensively.  They are very easy!

What you need:

I buy “in bulk” because I make a lot of necklaces at once to have on hand to use as gifts, sign up incentives for new members, giveaways, make ‘n take items for my team, etc.  These are the supplies I use.

DIY diffuser necklace supplies

diffuser locket – I buy the 20 pack but they also sell them in packs as small as just 5, I believe

chain – There are lots of different lengths to choose from, I went with 24 inch chains which are a good length for most adults but would probably be too long for a child.

jump rings – This is what connects the pendant to the chain.

disc for inside the pendant – I put one drop of oil on one of these discs and I can usually smell that oil for at least a week.  I also just reuse the disc and put new oils on it when I want to change; I’ve been using it for months and so far it’s held up well.

charms – I purchase my charms at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s in their jewelry section.  There are all kinds of cute charms that slip right on the chain; I usually use flowers, pearls, or gemstones but there are more personalized options too.  The charm is optional of course but I think it adds a nice touch to the necklace.

jewelry bags – Also optional, but trust me that you want these if you are going to be making a lot of necklaces.  This prevents them from becoming a big tangled mess as you try to keep them separate.  I bought my bags from Hobby Lobby but they are also on Amazon.

DIY diffuser necklaces

If you are not interested in making a bunch of these and just want to make one or two for yourself, Hobby Lobby (and probably other craft stores) has most of these items that you can purchase individually.  I’ve seen at least two different types of metal lockets that have the openings and could be used for the diffuser locket, you can purchase small packs of jump rings and individual (or small packs of) chains.  The only thing they don’t have are the discs (that I’ve found), but you could just use a small piece of leather or felt and cut your own, or buy the pack from Amazon and then have extras.

Note: these are not super high quality materials.  My pendant has held up great but you can definitely tell a difference in the weight and quality of it compared to some of the other, more expensive places you can purchase.  But if money is an issue or you’re wanting to make lots of these, I think this is a great alternative and the quality is good for the price (in my opinion).

Speaking of price, I did the math at one point (based on the prices when I purchased – you know how things on Amazon can change from hour-to-hour) and the necklaces came out to $3-$5 each, depending on which charms you choose to use and where you buy them.

What you do:

Step 1: Open each locket and put a disc inside.

DIY diffuser necklace locket

Step 2: Attach a jump ring to the locket.  This is the only part that requires any real “assembling”.  The jump ring has a break in it and the two ends of the metal are slightly bent away from each other so that there is an opening to put in on the locket.  Once you put the jump ring on the locket then you grab each of the openings and pull them in towards each other – that should then even them out so that they meet in the middle.  Some of the things I read online about how to make jewelry mention using pliers to do this but I have been very easily able to do this without needing any tools.

I tried to take a picture of this step but it was impossible for me to get my camera to focus on that tiny jump ring so hopefully my written explanation was clear!

Step 3: Use the jump ring to slide the locket onto the chain.

Step 4: Add any charms that you want as embellishments.

DIY diffuser necklace charms

That’s all!  Easy peasy!

If you aren’t the DIY type and don’t want to make one at all there are tons of places you can purchase them.  There are lots and lots on Etsy as well as various other companies and shops that make them (I really like Sacred Arrow – they also have bracelets, earrings, and jewelry for men).

What oils do you like to use in your necklace?

Some of my favorites for my necklace are Valor, Joy, White Angelica, and Abundance.

(Not an oiler yet?  Want to be?  Check out my page here about how to sign up and get started using these super fabulous essential oils!)

(some links may be affiliates)

pregnancy #2 update – 15 weeks

As predicted I haven’t been nearly as diligent about posting pregnancy updates with Baby #2 as I was with Hudson.  This is only the second one so far and the first one was over a month ago – whoops!

How far along – 15 weeks

We had a check up at 13 weeks and got to hear the heartbeat for the first time.  Nice and strong, heart rate of 165.

Symptoms – Basically nothing.  I do feel some pains/twinges in my belly when I turn over at night or move in certain directions, but other than that I really can’t even tell I’m pregnant.  I feel pretty much just like my non-pregnant self.

Weight/belly – I have not gained any weight yet.  As far as my belly goes…I really can’t tell a difference.  Part of that is because I haven’t been taking pictures to compare but mostly it’s because I never lost the baby weight from Hudson so my stomach is quite a lot larger this time around than it was with Hudson and subtle changes aren’t nearly as noticeable.

I have been trying to be a lot more conscious about my health this time around.  With Hudson I used pregnancy as a ticket to eat as much of whatever I wanted.  Since I’m starting this pregnancy so much heavier than I was with Hudson I want to try to limit the amount of weight gain if at all possible (I know I’ll probably gain some, and I’m not starving myself or anything, just trying to be mindful).  During the few weeks of the first trimester when I felt nauseous I ate whatever sounded good but as soon as that passed (week 11 or 12?) I started making sure I was eating real, whole, healthy foods, very little junk or sugar, eating when hungry but not just eating to eat.  I’m pleased with my food choices and now need to work on exercising.  I’m not going to start anything crazy, but I’d like to do some things that will help strengthen my muscles and support my body as I get ready to deliver a baby (which is pretty much an athletic event in and of itself, and I’m in no way in shape for athletics).

Movement – Around week 11 I was really thinking I felt the baby move.  Like, a lot.  I knew that was wayyyy early and I asked at my doctor’s appointment at week 13 and they said they thought it was too early, too.  The feelings that I was having have since gone away so I’m guessing it was not the baby and was something else instead.  I haven’t felt that, or anything else, recently so I’m guessing I haven’t felt the baby moving yet.

Food cravings – I would drink gallons of Ningxia Red if I could but that stuff’s expensive so I limit myself!  Other than that, no particular cravings.

(Like I said, no belly pictures, and really I have very few pictures of me at all, but I feel like I must have a picture with each blog post so here’s one I had of me downing the last bit of Ningxia from a bottle – I usually pour it into a small glass each day but when it gets low I unleash my inner rebel and chug it straight from the bottle.  Ningxia Red is a high antioxidant nutrient juice from Young Living that I drink every day, for those who are unfamiliar with it.)

ningxia red

Food aversions – Nothing.  I’m not adverse to fruit right now but I haven’t wanted it nearly as much as I usually do so that has been a bit strange.

Sleep – Great

Thoughts – This pregnancy is so different!  With Hudson that was all I thought about – I was so attuned to every change and symptom.  Now I have a toddler who demands lots of attention and I feel very un-pregnant so it’s easy to forget that I actually am pregnant at the moment.  It’s so strange!  Of course I’m excited, I just don’t think about it as much as I did with Hudson.

We’ve started tossing around baby names.  We’ve had our girl name picked out for years so that’s ready to go but we’re having trouble deciding on a boy name.  So far nothing has just jumped out and grabbed us so we’re still thinking.  We should find out sometime next month if this baby will be a boy or a girl.

We sat down a few weeks ago and made a list of things we need for baby #2 so we can make sure and be saving in our budget – thankfully there isn’t much!  A double stroller, bigger diaper bag, newborn cloth diapers, maybe a new carrier.  Our biggest purchase that’s not technically a baby thing but will probably be used more than most baby things will be a king sized bed.  And of course if this baby is a girl then we’ll get some girly clothes.  It’s nice to not have a crazy, huge, overwhelming list like we did for Hudson!

This time around instead of worrying about a nursery and having all this “stuff”, I’m going to work more on practical things like having freezer meals cooked and getting the house cleaned and such.

Hudson’s 18 month pictures

I am in love with Hudson’s 18 month pictures!  They are adorable and capture his personality perfectly!

I was particularly excited about his 18 month pictures because I wanted to recreate a picture of me when I was 18 months old.  This bathtub picture is one of my favorite pictures!

(Can we just take a second to marvel at how UNLIKE me Hudson looks?  I mean seriously, he is his daddy made over!)IMG_9386Anyway, so I sent this picture to our photographer, we gathered up a bucket and chair and all that good stuff.  What we failed to gather up was a cooperative toddler.  Hudson was not a fan of the bucket.  He did NOT want to sit down in it.  Really, he didn’t want to cooperate for pictures at all.

Thankfully our photographer is wonderful and patient and after quite a bit of work we were able to not only get him to start smiling but to also sit in the tub and take some good pictures.   We only had to do some minor bribery with car keys ;).

I think we got some great ones!


It started to rain on us just a bit which actually was pretty cool because it gave Hudson that wet-ish hair look, perfect for bathtub pictures!  And then when his hair dried it was more on the curly side and less on the Albert Einstein frizzy side (which is how it usually tends to look).141517192122Lots of smooches23There was a group of people touring the area where we were doing pictures and they all fawned over Hudson…and of course he ate up the attention and waved and waved!

123810121328303234363840414243464748Isn’t he just the cutest??

As always, major props to our photographer Shelley at Sweet Dreams Photography!  She is super-de-duper awesome!

Hudson’s 18 month update

A year and a half…where has time gone?!  The older Hudson gets and the more active he is the less (good/clear/still) pictures I seem to get of him.  But here are a few (ok, still a lot) of pictures from this month and a bit about what he’s been up to.


At this 18 month check up earlier this week he was 26.2 pounds (89th percentile) and 32 inches tall (35th percentile).

Hudson HATED the doctor’s visit.  He never seemed to care up up to his 12 month appointment, but his 15 month and 18 month appointments were horrendous.  He screamed through us sitting him on the table to weigh him, trying to stand him up and measure his height, putting that measuring tape thing around his head, looking in his ears, his mouth, etc.  A blood curdling, freaking out scream.  He even cried about the stickers he got at the end.  The only thing he didn’t get upset about during this visit was his eye exam, oddly enough.

We don’t have another well visit until he’s 2 years old so hopefully our next visit will be better.  It’s so embarrassing, plus I can hardly focus or hear the doctor when he’s screeching like that.  Sigh.

Check out these red shoes.  They were my very first baby purchase from a friend at her yard sale after we found out we were pregnant with Hudson.  We used them in our gender and name announcement pictures – it’s so neat to see him wearing them!

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Molar #4 has come through and canine #1 (top right) has poked through.  I can see the other three canine beneath the surface so I’d say they’ll be along pretty soon.

I just realized the other day that all he has left are these canines and his 2/3 year molars, then we should get a break for a while until his next molars come through (Around 6 years old?  Is that right?).  It seems crazy that we’re so close to the end of teething…and that he has almost a full mouth of teeth!  It feels like yesterday when he got his first two little teeth!


The new signs he started using this month are strawberry, rock, orange, bird, yes, bear, church, and turtle.  His new words/sounds include baa (like a sheep), car, whoooo (like an owl), roar (lion), God, and church.  He also learned to pinch his nose when we say P.U.  So cute!


Hudson actually got a bit picky this month.  Up until now he has been such a good eater but this month several times he refused to eat some of the foods that typically he would gobble up!  I hope it’s just a short phase and he’ll continue to eat a wide variety of foods.

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Some of his favorite foods right now are cheese, crackers, apple sauce, any fruit, yogurt, and peanut butter sandwiches.

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According to what I read on The Interwebz apparently a lot of kids go through a big sleep regression around 18 months.  I’m pretty sure Hudson happens to be one of those kids.  About halfway through the month he started bucking bed time pretty hard and it would take upwards of 2-3 hours from the time we started bedtime to when he’d actually go to sleep.  Fortunately once he was asleep he stayed that way through the night, but it has been very stressful dealing with this multi-hour bedtime junk.

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Naps have still been pretty good.  Most days he takes a 2-3 hour nap, although there have been a few days that he has slept for less than an hour and a half, or fallen asleep in the car for 15 minutes on the way home, and then that’s been it for the rest of the day.

One day though he woke up from a nap (I was laying the bed next to him) and leaned on me.  I figured he would get up in a minute but then I realized he had fallen asleep!  I eased him back down and he slept for a bit longer.
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new skills

We found out this month that Hudson is really good (in my opinion) at throwing and catching a ball.  Honestly I don’t worry about or even keep up with which milestones Hudson is supposed to reach at certain ages.  I figure every child develops at their own pace and I’ll be able to tell if he’s significantly “behind”.  But because of that I don’t really know when kids are supposed to be able to catch a ball, but I have certainly been impressed with his coordination and ability!


We celebrated 4th of July this year by grilling out with friends and then going to watch the fireworks at a local church who has an amazing fireworks show.  Hudson reacted about the same to these fireworks as he did the ones at church camp – he held on to me pretty tightly and did not want to watch the fireworks, but he didn’t cry or get super upset either.

We brought his little camping chair out there but he didn’t like it (hence the very concerned face in the picture below).  Maybe when he gets a bit bigger!

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Hudson and I went with my mom to my grandparents’ to visit for a few days.  Hudson had fun playing with all the toys there and getting into all kinds of cabinets and other non-baby proofed things.  He loved carrying my Granddaddy’s cane around too!2015-07-08_21.34.28 copy2015-07-09_10.04.10 copy

We had our church’s Vacation Bible School this month.  There was a kick off event on Saturday where we released balloons with invitations on them out into the community.  Hudson actually really liked the balloons (up until now he’s been afraid of helium balloons) so we found two that were starting to lose their helium and he carried them around for a long time.

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A friend snapped these pictures of Hudson at VBS and I just love them!  Look at those curls and those pretty blue eyes!


Cool dude with his Mission: Possible sunglasses
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Tiffany and kids came to visit for a day.  It’s so fun to have all my babies together!

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We went down to our other church camp (with the church I went to when I still lived at home) to visit mom and Riley for the day.  Hudson had so much fun running around and playing outside.  They also had a guest speaker that day who brought a bunch of reptiles and creatures (boa constrictors, strange lizards, cockroaches, etc.).  Hudson didn’t want to touch or hold them but he did sit and watch the whole program and didn’t cry when he saw the animals, so that’s progress!

2015-07-16_12.57.09 copyThey have a creek that the kids love to play in.  It’s probably most people’s favorite spot at camp and Hudson loved it too.  I was really surprised!  I thought he’d be scared of the water or not like how cold it was, but he did really well.  He didn’t like it when he fell/sat down in the water and got wet, but otherwise he had a good time walking around and pretending to pick up things with his net.

2015-07-16_14.19.24 copy2015-07-16_14.06.39 copyMy brother Riley was in The Fiddler on The Roof.  That’s one of my favorite plays and I really wanted to go see him.  Hudson had never been to a play of any kind and I was unsure how he’d do (I figured one of us adults would end up outside in the hallway entertaining him for the majority of the time) but he did great!  He sat (or stood – don’t worry, we were in the last row) in my lap for the whole first act (which was at least an hour and a half long) and watched intently.  The second act did not go as well – he had gotten to run around during intermission and then didn’t want to have to sit still again when it was time.  But fortunately the second part was much shorter.2015-07-18_20.26.38 copy

I found this little (well, pretty big actually) blow up kiddie pool for less than $20 at Walmart and it has been a wonderful hang out spot this summer.  Hudson has so much fun playing in the water and I like that it’s big enough for me to sit in and cool off too (and sometimes Michael gets in with us when he gets home from work too – plenty of room in there!).  2015-07-13_15.55.07 copy

other stuff

This month really has just been a reversal in a lot of ways – not eating as good, sleep issues, and also the carseat!  Ever since we discovered (after 11 loooooong months) that watching a tv show in the car kept Hudson from screaming we’ve been doing that and he’s been great in the car.  Until this month.  He’s started to go back to hating the car again and he’ll cry quite a bit, even with a tv show on for him to watch.  That has been realllly stressful and so disappointing since we thought we had a great solution.  I’m hoping this won’t last long!

And now just a few random pictures:

Crazy bathtub hair styling.  I wish I had a picture of it when we rinse it and it hangs down his back – it’s SO long!

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This child gets in to everything!  Nothing is safe.  He found Michael’s sunglasses one morning while I was getting ready and next thing I know he’s got them on his head…just like daddy!  So cute!

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Sitting up there on the couch like such a big boy!2015-06-29_15.17.19 copy

We start yard work early in this family ;).2015-07-02_17.18.01 copy2015-07-04_08.10.45 copy2015-07-04_08.10.53 copy2015-07-22_09.18.31 copy

Happy half birthday, my precious boy!

Signing Time

Before I ever had kids I knew I wanted to use sign language with my babies.  I’d heard so many great things about babies who couldn’t talk yet but who could communicate with others via signing.  Plus I figured learning signs as well as learning to speak had to be good for cognitive development.

I have a little bit of a background in sign language.  We had a deaf interpreter at our church growing up, I had attended a few sign language classes, and we also learned several sign language songs at church camp when I was younger.  So I knew the alphabet, numbers, some basic words, and some songs.

We started using signs with Hudson before he turned one (I really don’t remember when exactly we started) and right around 12 months he started signing back.  Until he was 16 months though we only did milk, more, eat, all done, drink, diaper, and bath.  Those were all very useful but as he got older I wanted to start using more.  The problem was, *I* didn’t really know lots more (or at least, not the types of words that would be helpful to teach him).

I figured surely YouTube would have some videos for kids that we could watch.  The only thing we had ever tried before was the Baby Einstein signing video and to be totally honest it was super boring.  Neither Hudson or I cared a bit about it.  But after a little searching I hit pay dirt with this video.

It’s about an hour long and has signing instruction as well as songs.  We watched it a few times times – I learned several new signs, immediately started using them with Hudson, and within a few days he was signing them as well.

I did some investigating and found out that this video was actually a compilation of songs and clips from several different sign language videos in the Signing Time series.  Signing Time is a company that makes sign language videos for babies up through preschoolers.  Usually the dvds have a theme like “farm animals” or “colors” or “our day”.  I checked at our local library and they had quite a few of the dvds so we went one day and I picked several for us to try.

signing time[source]

(You can also check out their other free videos on YouTube here)

Every time we watched a new dvd I would watch it through with Hudson.  Thanks to the repetition and catchy songs usually by the time we finished watching it I had picked up most of the signs.  Then I’d start using them with him in our day to day life or while we read a book about animals or however it seemed appropriate.  Usually within a couple of days he had picked up on the ones that we used frequently.

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I get comments all the time from people who are interested in Hudson’s sign language and want to know how we taught him.  Honestly it’s just like “teaching” him how to talk – we talk to him, use descriptive words, etc. and eventually he has picked up on words.  With signing we both say and sign the words and again, he just picks up on the signs in his own time.  The catch that is most of us already know how to talk, but we don’t know signs.  That’s where having dvds like this comes in handy!

This was a perfect way for me to learn the signs so that I could start using them with Hudson!  I do not think that he would have picked up on the signs if I’d just plopped him down in front of the dvd (an older child might but I don’t think he would have) but us watching together, me learning the signs, and then implementing them in our lives really helped him pick them up quickly.  In about two weeks he had gone from 5 or so signs to 30 or so.  Michael also quickly picked up the signs, either from watching the dvds with us or just seeing me use them with Hudson.

The most useful ones right now have been food signs.  For a long time he could tell us he wanted to eat or that he wanted more, but now that he can tell us what he wants to eat it eliminates a lot of frustration.

It has been truly remarkable how much better Hudson can communicate with us now.  He is talking more as well as signing but the majority of his communication is via sign language.

If you have been thinking about using sign language with your baby or even your older kids, I recommend watching that YouTube video I linked and checking to see if your library has any of the signing time dvds.  You can also purchase the dvds individually or as sets from their website, but I haven’t done that yet.  So far we’ve just been checking them out from the library but I would love to own them all someday!

Hudson’s 17 month update

We’re already halfway to 18 months now so I’m a bit behind, but here’s what Hudson was up to last month (and a very eventful month it was!).


I totally forgot to weigh/measure so we’ll just wait and see next month, but I’d assume he’s about the same weight and maybe a bit taller.  Still in 18 month clothes, although a few of his outfits have gotten too small.  We also had to loosen up his cloth diapers one snap.

I know everyone said he looked *just* like Michael from the time he was born, but I think he looks more and more like him as he gets older.  In fact, when I look back at his pictures from several months ago I actually see quite a bit of myself in him.  When I look at pictures now though it’s alllllll Michael.

I found this old picture of Michael flipping through a scrapbook one day and was blown away by how similar they look – I had to make a side-by-side comparison to show it off.  Twinsies for sure.

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At the end of last month he had one molar and part of a second.  Now that second one has popped all the way through and a third one followed right behind it.  The last molar from this “set” hasn’t come through yet but I think it’s on it’s way soon based on how he’s been acting.


Hudson’s communication has absolutely skyrocketed this month!  He has added a ton of words both to his speech and his signing.

In addition to the words he could already say, he now says “go go!”, bubbles, ball, car, mama, dada, arf arf (when asked what a dog says), quack, duck, egg, cat, meow, shoes, cracker, moo, eyes.  That brings him up to 21 words.

And in addition to the signs he already knew, this month he learned: banana, apple, please, no, cracker, water, pear, shoes, grapes, hat, cheese, paci, wash hands, pajamas, book/read, amen, horse, sleep, eggs, clean up, down, ball, pray, peach, car.  That brings him up to a total of 32 signs, I think.

A lot of the time when we tell him “no no” we say it and sign it and then he will yell “nononono” back at us while signing it because he’s mad that we told him no.  It’s so funny to see but of course isn’t good at all that he’s doing that so I laugh inside but don’t let him know that I think it’s funny (that happens a lot – it is so hard to keep a straight face sometimes when he’s doing something that he shouldn’t be doing)

I’m going to do a whole separate post later talking about the tools that we used to help him (and us) learn so much sign language so quickly so be watching for that, but I just have to say that is has helped SO much for him to be able to communicate with us!  I feel like a lot of his frustrations we dealt with in the past have gone away since he can more easily tell us what he wants.  It is amazing how quickly he picked up the signs and started using them correctly.  And I’m thrilled that he’s started talking more too!


He still loves a variety of food.  We were at church camp for a week this month and that exposed him to a bunch of different foods that he’s never tried.  The aforementioned sign language skills have helped out a ton in him being able to tell us not only that he wanted to eat but also *what* he wanted to eat.

He is really good at using a fork but we haven’t practiced using a spoon very much yet.  Spoon-worthy food are of course much more messy and I just don’t want to deal with the clean up so most of the time if it requires a spoon (soup, yogurt, etc.) then I feed it to him.  We’ll start working on that…eventually ;).  I did let him try out a spoon with some yogurt one day but he mostly just dipped the tip in the yogurt, he doesn’t understand how to scoop yet.
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Our super big news this month is that Hudson is completely weaned now!  I wrote a whole post talking about that and how we weaned if you want to read the details.


A nice change from so many of the previous month is that sleep is really pretty good now.  He sleeps 10-11 hours at night and unless his teeth are bothering him he sleeps soundly.  He’s still in our bed and he’s a total bed hog.

He takes one nap a day, usually after lunch.  Typically he sleeps about 2 hours, sometimes longer if he’s really tired.  I can lay him down for a nap and leave the room to do things but he does usually wake up several times so I have to run back in there and settle him back down.  Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve started using his nap time to either lay down with him and take a nap myself or just lay there and rest or read a book.

Several time recently he hasn’t even needed me to rock him to get him to sleep for his nap.  I’ll just be holding him in my lap and look down and he’s fallen asleep.  That is very out of character for him!

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Just to be clear he did NOT climb up here and fall asleep on his own (I may faint if that ever happens) – he fell asleep in my lap and I laid him down on the couch and he stayed asleep for a bit.
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new skills

While we were at church camp Hudson learned all kinds of new things.  He had climbed on a few things before but now can climb up in the recliner, on the couch, on the church pew, on boxes…he climbs on all kinds of things!

He climbed all over our suitcases and bins while we were trying to unpack from camp!

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One afternoon I found him up on the pew just hanging out eating a cracker (he looooooves crackers – he calls everything a cracker: chips, cookies, french fries, actual crackers and he’ll shout “cacka cacka” while signing it at the same time.  It’s adorable)
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He also has learned how to turn lights on and off so he’ll climb up on our pew and flip the light switch over and over.

2015-06-23_18.27.45 copyHe can get down off the bed with assistance.  If I turn him around and help him get his legs dangling off the bed he can slide down (he doesn’t like it…I think the big drop scares him) but he doesn’t seem to remember how to do it on his own without my help.

One of his favorite songs is “This Little Christian Light of Mine” and he knows to blow on his finger or my finger when we get to that part of the song.


Like I’ve mentioned before we went to church camp this month and Hudson had an absolute blast.  I thought it was going to be hard but honestly church camp was easier this time with a toddler than it was last time (when he was 8 months, I believe).  I think the fact that he was able to run and play made him much happier, plus I didn’t have to hold him all that time.

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He looked so big sitting here beside us at chapel!  That didn’t last long – he’d much rather play in the mulch during chapel ;).
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Mmmm Ningxia Red.

2015-06-17_07.51.47 copyI thought this Kiddie Car Wash was the coolest thing ever!  One of the men at church built it for the kids to use at camp.  Hudson was not a fan (duh, water) but the other kids loved it.  How fun would this be for a summer birthday party?2015-06-17_11.45.24 copyI tried to be very diligent about keeping a hat on Hudson, especially since he is so fair and his hair is so sparse so lots of scalp shows through.  We went outside one day and I forgot to grab his hat; I didn’t have to time run in and get it before my class started so I just used a bandana.  He’s cracking me up looking like a little biker dude.

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Speaking of fair skin, my poor little guy got pretty burnt at camp.  I tried to be so careful about putting lots of sunscreen on but it must not have worked (or I didn’t apply enough).  His face didn’t get burnt thanks to the hats (I know it looks super red here but that’s what he looks like anytime he goes outside and gets hot – it goes away once he cools down) and his legs were fine but his arms got toasty.  He had a nice little farmer’s tan and then the day that he wore this sleeveless outfit his poor shoulders got burnt too.2015-06-18_13.46.41 copy2015-06-18_13.46.48 copyBeautiful rainbow
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We had fireworks at camp one night and Hudson did not like them but he didn’t freak out like I thought he might.  He clung to me pretty hard and whimpered some but was much calmer than when he sees, say, a cat.  In fact, after he got over the initial fear then he just fell asleep while we watched them.

And of course our other big news from this month, and the next big adventure for our family, is that Hudson is going to be a big brother!

big brother baby announcementI love these pictures because they look so ironic – announcing that he’s going to be a big brother and looking not a bit happy.  But in reality obviously he has no idea what that even means and he was just crying because he wanted to go outside and I was trying to get a picture of him.  Ha! 2015-06-05_16.40.18 copy2015-06-05_16.40.07 copy

other firsts

Nearly all of Hudson’s “firsts” this month were injury-related.  He is definitely becoming an active little boy and with that come lots of bumps and scrapes.

He got his first blister and as a result his first bandaid for a boo boo (he’s had bandaids at the doctor’s office but never at home for an injury).  He was fascinated by his blister and kept pointing at it and poking it.  He was not a fan of the bandaid and cried when I put it on.

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He had his first scraped knees when he fell on the concrete at church camp and his first splinters when I let him walk on our deck without shoes (I won’t do that again!  I bet he got 20 splinters in 5 minutes and it took Michael forever to get them all out).  He also had his first bloody nose although I have no idea what caused it.  He woke up one morning at church camp with it bleeding (a small amount, not anything crazy) and the only thing that I can figure is the fact that it was absolutely freezing in our room in the lodge at camp so maybe that or dry air or something made it bleed.

other stuff

He’s completely over the shoe issue.  We don’t wear the Robeez at all anymore and he’s fine in tennis shoes, sandals, crocs, whatever.

He went through a thing early in the month where he was chewing on/eating everything.  I caught him taking bites out of magazines and receipts and multiple times putting money in his mouth.  He seems to be over that now (or maybe we’ve just moved everything out of his reach).

He also went through a phase for a few weeks where he wouldn’t give very many if any kisses.  He’s always been pretty affectionate so that was odd but now he’s back to giving all kinds of big smoochy kisses.

I know this one is blurry but it’s such a cute poochy lip kiss picture.

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I’m not sure how much of this is toddlerhood in general and how much is just Hudson’s personality but he seems to have a bit of a temper sometimes.  Thankfully he doesn’t hit or bite often (he does it some but not much) but if you tell him no or take something away or anything else that he doesn’t want to do he will pitch a fit (shout at you, drop dramatically to the ground) and occasionally will even bite the couch or table – you can see his mind working like “I want to bite something but I know I can’t bite Mommy so I’ll bite the closest piece of furniture”.  Thankfully this is not a frequent occurrence and hopefully just a phase!

He is in to everything that isn’t locked – cabinets, drawers, you name it.  I have to watch him like a hawk.

2015-05-29_07.53.23 copyHe loves to pretend to drink out of a cup.  These are actually the “feet” for a rooster from an animal nesting toy but he uses it like a cup (and I think it looks like those little cups of tea you get at Japanese restaurants).2015-05-30_15.02.24 copyHudson loves to be outside.  He’d play outside all day if I’d let him!
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He also loves to read or be read to.  It melts my heart to see him looking at a book.2015-05-31_07.24.13 copy

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He fell asleep on a bike ride with daddy and woke up with some pretty amazing helmet hair!
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It is so cute (and also amazing and scary) at how much kids pick up.  As soon as he gets down from a meal if he’s made a mess we grab a broom to sweep it up.  He runs and gets his broom too to come help.  We usually set him down and brush crumbs off him onto the floor before we sweep so now when we set him down he automatically brushes himself off, even if he doesn’t have any crumbs.  He certainly knows our routine.
2015-06-04_19.29.41 copyYou might not have noticed but we aren’t too big on clothes around here ;).  2015-06-05_15.25.57 copy

Hudson loves bubbles.  It’s one of his favorite words to say and he has so much fun chasing them.  The bubbles in the long skinny tube with the elongated wand are by far the best, in case you wondered (I buy ours at Kroger).2015-06-06_19.17.53 copy2015-06-06_19.29.58 copy

Selfies with mommy.2015-06-07_16.04.36 copyTrying on bathing suits before camp.2015-06-09_10.13.52 copyHis amber teething necklace completes the surfer boy look for sure!2015-06-09_10.18.00 copyLooking so big in his ball cap.
2015-06-11_09.11.56 copyCrazy morning hair.2015-06-13_07.45.29 copyPlaying in the toy room at my chiropractor’s office.
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My sweet, sweet boy.  I just love him to pieces and it’s so fun watching him grow and change!