Dear Archer (8 Months)

Dear Archer,

Sweet thing, I am head over heels for you. Truly. Archer, you have the sweetest spirit and I am absolutely loving being your Mommy. The Lord has been so GRACIOUS to us to give us the sweetest moments together and "cherish" is the closest word I can find to how I feel about every second I get with you. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, too. Every single member of our family thinks you hung the moon. You get more kisses than anyone has ever gotten in the history of the world because your cheeks just BEG for kisses.

This month you:

- weight right at 22 POUNDS (TWENTY-TWO POUNDS), are really tall
- wear size 12 month clothes and size 4 diapers. I don't know what size shoes you wear because you've never worn shoes (I know. I know. Fourth baby problems)
- I'm not in a good place to talk about your sleeping (or lack there of) right now.
-We are SLOWLY SLOWLY SLOWLY getting the hang of eating solid food. You love watermelon, mum mums, green beans and carrots (when cooked with Grammy's roast) (But I mean, who doesn't love Grammy's roast ???), grits (but not oatmeal or rice cereal), bread, plums, pears, and eggs. You like to chew on but are not quite eating broccoli, squash, and apples. You started having an allergic reaction to bananas which is a big bummer. This time I wasn't quite as shocked as I was when Fischer started reacting.
- You are sitting very well, but not quite crawling. You are SO FRUSTRATED that you can't crawl.
- No teeth yet, but maybe soon.
- You love your jumperoo but are over the excersaucer
- You love baths.
- You giggle easily and are fascinated by your siblings
- You growl (like Fischer) and say "hi!" and "dadadadadadadada"
- You love to blow raspberries
- You grab everything in sight including daddy's glasses, grammy's white serving dish, Sookie's hair, Mommy' hair, Mommy's jewelry, Fischer's face (when he gets close enough), and laundry baskets full of clothes that you dump out like a helper.

Little one, you are so very very loved and we all love watching you grow!

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Safety: Internet and Social Media

It's Pinterest day for the Babywise Network and the theme for today is "Safety". Be sure and check out the Safety board on the BFBN Pinterest account.

Am I the only one that finds the Internet daunting? It is so vast and so big and everywhere you look "bad guys" are lurking to take advantage of innocent people. On the other hand, we don't want to make decisions based from fear and there really is so much good that can come from the internet too.

There is a lot of information available for how to keep your family safe on the internet. It's really easy to go really far on either extreme of this. We decided, when it comes to this blog, and our social media, to be smart and to set up some guidelines. This is also something we will re-evaluate from time to time and based on current circumstances and seasons in our life.

There are 3 basic guidelines Kyle and I follow to keep our family safe:

1. Watch the privacy settings on all social media accounts. 

Through the years, things continue to change with your options about your settings. Because of this you need to continually make sure your privacy settings say what you want them to. It is more than just having a "private" or "public" account now. There are more options, which can be bad, but they can also be good. Stay on top of them to make sure your privacy says what you want it to.

With Facebook, there is a little tab on the right end of your menu bar at the top of your screen that has shortcuts for your privacy settings. It's pretty self explanatory and they have it laid out with simple easy steps to figure out your settings.

For twitter, you need to click on the tiny profile image to the right of the search bar at the top of the page. It will bring up a drop down menu for you to select settings.

Clock on settings and it will bring up this menu. Select the Security and privacy settings tab on the left and it will show you your options. 

With Instagram, it is still a one option "privacy" button. You can find it by going to the Settings cog and selecting the privacy option.

We have chosen to keep all of our accounts private since we do post pictures of our kids. If I don't know you personally and you request to follow or friend request, I will look at your page/account first to make sure there is no spam or inappropriate content posted that would make me feel uncomfortable with you seeing pictures that I post. I also really trust my gut and even if I just don't feel right about something, I have no problems blocking or denying a request. 

2. Turn off all location settings. 

Do you know that unless you have it turned off, that every picture you take has a location tag on it called a "geotag"? Text messages, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc... all will tag a location unless you have it turned off. This is not just whether you "check in" somewhere or not (which I'll get to in a minute), but it is an automatic thing set up in your phone or application. 

To turn off geotagging on an iphone or ipad:

1. Launch the settings app on your phone or pad.

2. Select Privacy

3. Select Location Services

4. Choose camera 

5. Choose either "while using the app" or "never"

Specific to Instagram:

1. Launch Instagram

2. Go to your Profile

3. Select the location pinpoint tab

4. Select "edit" in the top right corner

5. Deselect all of your photo thumbnails

After you do, exit and come back and you should have this message pop up:

3. We don't publicly announce our address or our kids schools... including web "check-ins"

We are way past living in a world where we just need to tell our kids to "not take candy from strangers". Internet predators are real. Because of that, it's a no-brainer to not announce to the world where you are or where your kids are. 

We don't publicly announce when we are home or when we are not home. Because burglaries are real too. 

I don't really know why it became so popular for us to share where we are all of the time. But whatever the reasons behind it, it's not a smart choice!

We talk to our kids about "Stranger Danger"

While this isn't specific to the internet, I think it is definitely worth mentioning.

There was a video circulating Facebook a few months ago, that stopped me in my tracks. Have you seen it? It's a social experiment showing how easy it is to get children to go with a stranger on a playground without the moms even noticing. 

This video was so eye opening to me and it really encouraged me to be more specific in how I was talking to my kids about stranger danger. We don't want to scare our kids, but we do want to be smart and we want to teach them to be smart. We talk about the ONLY people that are allowed to pick them up from school EVEN if they have the right number or EVEN if they know those people. 


Here are some websites I found that have good tips and ideas for keeping your children safe on the internet:

As our kids get older, we are going to have to look at what safe boundaries look like for our kids when they use the internet and social media. If you have older kids and want a good place to start, can I suggest an awesome resource for you for a lot of areas in raising teens? It's called Radical Parents. My brothers have put together an awesome website and podcast, and it is definitely worth your time to check out.

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Fun Jen's Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

I'm joining the recipe club today with a favorite recipe of ours!

When I was sick, had babies, had a bad day, Kyle was out of town, or just because she loves me, Jen would make me these delicious chicken tacos! So when we moved away from her, I nabbed the recipe so I can have a little bit of Fun Jen's love and good Texas eats whenever I want!

Tuesdays are long days because LK has piano lessons so I'm not home to cook dinner until later. Perfect day for my BFF crock pot and Fun Jen's Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos!


12 oz mild or medium salsa
Juice from 1/2 lime (live a little... use the whole lime like me!)
1/8 c fresh cilantro, chopped (if you only use 1/8 c I'll be mad at you, chop the whole bunch. No one ever died of too much cilantro)
1/2 pkg taco seasoning
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (I don't chop it up but leave it in two halves so you get the seasoning but not as much spice. Jen would interject here to tell you that it does NOT make it too spicy at all. Potato, Potahto.)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

In a slow cooker, combine salsa, lime juice, cilantro, taco seasoning and jalapeno. If you are like me and forget to buy taco seasoning at the store, you can add seasonings from your cabinet: Cumin, onion powder, garlic salt, oregano, and chili powder.

(For the love of queso, if you are not using crock pot liners, you need to! This is a life-changer people. LIFE. CHANGER.)

Add chicken breasts and coat with the mixture.

Cook on low for 6 hours. Shred them up and serve them on your favorite tortillas and toppings.

Kyle made some of our favorite salsa last night too! He is serious about the salsa. Maybe one day he'll share the recipe with you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go have leftovers for lunch.... because Day 2 is even better than day 1. YUM!

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Back To School 2015

I love helping my babies get ready to go back to school. Probably because it is quickly followed by Fall. And let's be real, I have always loved school. I think we learned last week what a big school nerd I was am. We are big in our family about celebrating the changing seasons and I consider "Back To School" a Season.

Alabama schools start TWO WEEKS before Texas schools. The past two years I have been more than ready for school to start and wished it started sooner. This year, I felt like my Summer was robbed. So maybe there should be an in between?? I wouldn't think two weeks would make that much of a difference, but I really feel the difference!

This year Laura Kate started 2nd grade, Shepherd started K4, Fischer started K3, and Archer restarted Mommy's nap schedule boot camp (ha!).

"Meet the teacher" is the first event to get us into the spirit of things. I have highly anticipated meeting the person who will spend so much time with my babies! In addition to school supplies, I always like to bring a teacher gift. This year, I got one of everything off of her wish list and added a few more goodies to the bag. I pulled out my cricut and made a cute apple card and hand-wrote a note to LK's new teacher.

We had a cookout with Grammy and Papa on Sunday night before the week school started. I love living close to them and being able to celebrate fun things like this with them.

(A few things to note in this picture: 1. Shepherd's face. 2. LK's monster hands 3. I think my mom would like me to point out that she is drinking a ROOT BEER 4. Thank you Papa and Fischer for smiling)

Laura Kate's big day came first. The bros are always a little sad when our spunky Queen Bee heads off to school. As much as they argue, they really do love each other.

The public schools here wear uniforms, which is really a stretch for my little fashionista who really likes to express herself through her wardrobe. However, I think if anyone can make a school uniform look cute, she can!

Didn't my wreath turn out cute? I followed along with this tutorial and tweaked it a little to make it my own! 

And finally, my sweet boys started back to Preschool two days a week. They were so excited and love their new school! I couldn't find my chalkboard pens this morning so we had to settle with the printed signs.

We have gotten off to a good start on the school front here! Looking forward to a great year!

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Dear Fischer (3 Years)

Dear Fischer,

It's hard to believe you are three years old. It seems like just yesterday you were born. I think you and I will always have a special bond because of the crazy day of your birthday.

Right now, you are this little hurricane of a human who is just blowing through life, making messes everywhere you barely glance or breathe. While this may not be the easiest season in parenting you, I am still able to see so much of the boy (and one day man!) you are becoming. You are bold, you are curious, you are tender-hearted, and you are so funny! You love to sing and dance, and are quick to smile and laugh. You, sweet third-born of mine, are SO PRECIOUS to me and I am overwhelmingly blessed at being your Mommy.

At three years old, you:

- ARE FULLY POTTY TRAINED!!! Glory Hallelujah Praise the Lord!!! All-in-all you caught on pretty quickly. You were night trained before day trained, but you eventually caught on. You love to change your underwear a thousand times a day.

-Wear size 3T and size 7 shoes

-Sleep 12 hours a night and take a 2-3 hour afternoon nap. Sometimes you wake at night with bad dreams or when your feet hurt from growing pains.

- You are an excellent eater. You eat most veggies, ALL THE FRUIT, and some meat. Also, you and bread/carbs are BFFs. Your main problem is taking the time to eat. Often you will clean up after your siblings who do not eat as well as you.

- You love anything that makes a mess: food, markers, crayons, cups of liquid, spray paint, toothpaste, toilet paper, toilet water...nothing is beyond your reach... the sky is the limit my friend.

- You want so badly to be as big as Shepherd, and honestly sometimes I forget you are not as big as him. You are still a little guy and still need a little more direction that your big bro.

-You have fully discovered your baby brother and embraced your big brother role. You love to pat him on his tummy, squish his cheeks together (face palm), and talk sweetly to him.

- You love Laura Kate and ask about her whenever she is at school

- You love to read books and know all of your ABCs (upper and lower case)

This year was an "on" year for your birthday party. (Odd years are party years, Even years are just family). I am so thankful that even though we just moved here, we were able to have new friends at your party! You requested a Mickey Mouse Birthday party and I was happy to oblige.

We love you so much, Fischer! Happy Birthday!

Love, Mommy

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