Throwback Thursday Stories : sweet summertime

My friend Jessica Turner of The Mom Creative hosts this fantastic link up on Thursdays called Throwback Thursday Stories. It basically takes the #tbt idea a little bit further and you can tell the story behind the photo.

I don’t know about you, but I can turn into a weepy mess if I start looking through my iPhoto account. I see pictures from pre-Todd days and pictures when we were engaged, and then married, and then we welcomed our babies. It’s so crazy that your whole life can appear right before your eyes in photos.

In honor of the beginning of summer for us, I chose this picture for today’s Throwback Thursday Story.


I love this picture of sweet, round, little 14-month-old Hudson. He’s carefree. He’s totally unaware of his extreme wardrobe (or lack therof) choice.

My mom, Hudson, and I had gone to Tennessee to visit my cousin and her daughter. She and Hudson are about five months apart in age, and we just couldn’t wait to get them together. It was in the middle of August in Tennessee, and we decided to let the kids run around in the sprinkler.

So we stripped them down to a diaper, put on some water shoes and a hat, and then somehow they found golf clubs. They ran around like this for an hour and just loved it.

This is summer to me. Maybe not so much the diaper part. But being outside. Running through the sprinkler. Soaking up the moments with your kids because they don’t care if you’re sweating and they really just want to be with you having some simple fun.

The pace is a lot slower and sometimes that’s hard on us. Too much time at the house can make us go a little stir crazy. But these days will be over before I know it. August will come back around and they’ll head off to preschool and Hudson will be in kindergarten.

I’m trying to say yes this summer. Yes to a random day trip to the beach. (Thank heavens we live within driving distance.) Yes to sprinklers in the yard. Yes to a bike ride when it’s blazing hot outside and I’ve already washed my hair. Yes to movies on a rainy day. Yes to staying up late just to hang out together. Yes to wacky outfits in the yard because it’s the carefree way to be.

Who’s with me?

What’s your favorite summer memory?

why I celebrate


I have some funny thoughts about Mother’s Day. I know it’s just a Hallmark holiday and it’s not to be taken too seriously. So we don’t really take it all that seriously in our house. There are cards, and my kids’ teachers were sweet enough to help them make some handprint gifts for them to give to me. Those are really the sweetest things about the whole day.

I don’t need to be pampered or given a day off. I really just want to be with my family and to spend the day with them.

I don’t take Mother’s Day very seriously until I look at my children. And then I am overcome with emotions about what it means to be their mother. I am the one that is celebrating because Hudson and Hayes Carroll are my boys.

And what an incredible gift that is.

I am not a perfect mother. I lose my temper. I snap at them. I don’t always give them my undivided attention. I could stand to play with them more and there are many times when I wish I could hit a “mute” button at our house.

They are not perfect children. They don’t always obey and they don’t eat all their vegetables. Or, really, any vegetables except green beans. They throw tantrums in public over silly things. But they are my boys.

And it’s when I stop, and look Hudson right in the eyes while he’s grinning at me and saying, “I never want to grow up and I always want to live with you and Daddy” that I see every little piece of joy in that moment. In his grin and his bright brown eyes that are smiling at me. Smiling at me because I’m looking straight at him. And knowing that he loves so so so deeply.

I’m so thankful for his grace. Hudson has taught me the true meaning of grace. As I’ve messed up and as we’ve both navigated this journey together. He’s my first and I’m his only. He trusts me and he’s the one that taught me how to trust myself. He made me a mama. I anxiously tip-toed and second guessed my way through so much of his short life. And we eagerly awaited each new milestone, almost in an effort to check the box to move to the next box.

He is full of sweetness. Full of wit and hilarity. And I love so very much that we have inside jokes. I’m not sure how it’s possible that Hudson has grown up so fast, but I am no longer looking forward to his new milestones because I want time to stop.

Then there are the moments when I’m busy folding laundry and watching the news, and I finally notice that Hayes has been running circles around me just trying to get me to look at him and laugh at him. So I look up, and we both give our biggest fake laugh, and I tell him that he is so funny. And he says, “I did it, Mommy! I’m funny!”

Yes, my sweet Hayes. He is the one that got me to relax as a mother. He’s the one that showed me that I don’t have to walk around with tension in my shoulders as I wait for the next new motherhood moment that will challenge me. Hayes is the one that has made us all laugh and lighten up and just enjoy each day for what it is. And we aren’t always anticipating the next big milestone. I’m not second-guessing myself.

I know that perfection is unattainable. We’re soaking up each day in a new way.

Maybe that’s how it always is the second time around.

So, as we approach Mother’s Day, I am thankful for the mama that my boys have helped me to be. And I pray daily that I can grow and show them the way to the Father. I am so thankful for the sweet little gifts that they are.


Hayes is 3!


Dear Hayes,

We woke you up this morning to sing happy birthday to you, and brought you downstairs to open your presents and have a donut fiesta. You were so excited. It’s like you couldn’t believe that today was actually YOUR birthday. Finally!

We all call you Hayesie. Your classmates, Hudson, and all the teachers, too. So sometimes when we ask you what your name is, you’ll say, “Hayesie.” It’s hilarious, but then sometimes I think we should stop so you don’t grow up thinking your name is Hayesie.

Being your mother is one of the sweetest privileges of my life. You are my sweetheart. You are the little light in this house that is always shining. Always beaming. Always laughing and looking for the party.

When someone is sad, you hug them. When someone is laughing, you tell them how funny they are. You greet everyone you meet with a smile. When we have visitors at the house, you want to take them around and show them your room and your favorite toys. You want everyone to feel as welcome as possible, and I just love that about you.

You’re our little wild card. Sitting still is not your favorite. You love to move and dance and do anything physical. You talk all the time and you don’t have a mean streak in your body. You’re not always obedient, but you are always sweet. I could cry just thinking about the way you hug using your whole body. And the way you grab my face to kiss my cheek. Totally unprompted… just because you’re you and you’re so loving.

If Hudson taught me how to be a mommy, you have taught me how to slow down to enjoy every single day. You’ve reminded me what a gift it is to be a mommy and what a joy it is to be your mommy and Hudson’s mommy. You love to enjoy everything for what it is. We take walks and hold hands. You soak every little thing up.

Even though you’re always running, you’re never actually in a hurry. When we opened your presents this morning, you wanted to stop and savor that first present. You weren’t ready to see what was in the next one. I get all teary thinking about what a good friend you will be and I just know that you’ll be the kid that everyone wants to be around because you treat everyone like they’re special.

I’m so thankful for your sweet little spirit and I’m so thankful for the way you rub off on the rest of us. I look at you and I still see my tiny little baby. Watching you grow up has been tough because I know you’re still really so little, but the time sure does go by quickly.

There aren’t enough words for me to tell you how wonderful you are and how much fun you are. But I will love you, love you, love you for as long as I live, and because of you, I’ll slow down a little bit more every day. You are such a light. Happy birthday, my sweet baby boy!




in the middle of the night

Last night around 11:00, Todd and I headed to bed. We had been watching Jimmy Fallon and Emma Stone’s lip syncing competition on You Tube and then watched Paul Rudd’s. We laughed and turned on the news and fell asleep.

At midnight, I woke up to the sound of Hayes crying on the monitor. We have a video monitor and I could tell that he was pretty upset just by looking at him. Todd went upstairs to cover him back up and tuck him in, and then he came back and went to sleep.

At 1:00, I heard him crying again. The same distraught cry. So I went upstairs and tucked him in this time.

At 1:45, it happened again, so Todd took him some Ibuprofen and held him for a while before tucking him back in.

At 3:00, Hayes was crying again. This time, I went up and help him and rocked him in my arms while standing up. I asked him if his throat hurt or his ears hurt, and he really didn’t respond. I tucked him back in and then at 3:30, it started again.

Todd went upstairs to get him and brought him back to our bed and put Hayes in the crook of my arm. He snoozed on and off in my arms for a while. All 40 pounds and three years old of him. I could feel his hot breath on my cheek. His legs stretched down almost as far as the tops of my knees. And while I lay there holding my baby, I flashed back to the last time we were up this many times in one night.

Hayes was just a few weeks old. I was getting up to feed him every couple of hours. I’d peel myself out of bed and feed him and sometimes struggle to feed him. I’d put him back to bed and he’d arch his back because the reflux hurt him so badly. And after a few minutes, I’d end up back in the bed, holding tiny 10-pound Hayes in the crook of my arm.

His little legs barely came down as far as my wrist and I was constantly waking myself up to make sure I didn’t roll over on him or to make sure he hadn’t spit up.

We went to the doctor this morning and Hayes has an ear infection, as we suspected. And I know that his cries were so important last night to tell us that something was wrong and something hurt.

How did three years fly by so quickly? How did all this time pass, but I still have that same feeling to comfort and protect while holding my youngest boy in my arms in such a sleepy haze. And it feels like no time has passed at all.

How is it possible that while holding this large preschooler, I could still feel that tiny boy that he once was, nestled in that same sweet spot?

All I wanted in that moment (aside from sleep and for Hayes to feel better) was to freeze time. It was a long night, but also such a sweet night as we approach his third birthday.



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