Recap of 2017

Hello blog… it’s been a while.  2017 was a crazy year.

In the summer we spent a ton of the time at the pool watching those boys master things like dolphin dives and backstroke. We also hit the road for our annual trip to visit Dean’s family in Baltimore.  Of course this included an O’s game.


Brooks graduated Pre-K in the spring and got lost in the exciting world of elementary school this fall. Here is his last week with his cousins and his first day.  Yes, Brooks is definitely the extrovert in our family.

To celebrate his new status as Kindergartener… we took Brooks on his special “mom-dad-Brooks” trip right before school started.  What can I say, it was a blast – water park, swimming, beach, donuts, ice cream.  We did it all and Brooks got to run the show, picking everything we did.

kinder trip

(Side story: Dean lost his wedding ring at the water park and someone found and turned it in at the end of the day.  Talk about a miracle!)

We also took a mini vacay in September with Dean’s brother and his family.  The kids loved all the cousin time and we had a great long weekend.


In the fall, the kids played baseball again. Both of their teams did really good. Brooks played rookie machine pitch and loved playing catcher and started getting a few hits each game by end of the season.  Landon played machine pitch for the second season in a row and his team lost in the championship game.  Landon also hit his first (in the park) home run.


With school starting, we got into our groove in September and October. I even got to chaperone Landon’s field trip to Panther stadium.  But then, we got to Halloween and it was a rapid blur until Christmas.

We also had a few visits from the toothfairy… look at this smile (or lack of smile with that big gap in front 😉 )


That brings us to the holidays.  For Thanksgiving we went to Asheville with my dad’s entire family (including my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins kids). There were about 50 of us! My mom coordinated a great weekend where we had plenty of family time, but also time to do whatever everyone was most interested in…. great since there were so man of us.  We did the Polar Express with my sister, brother and cousin who has kids.  We also hit the Biltmore House to see it all gussied up for the holidays. I’ve always wanted to do that, and it was great to visit it again – the first time I saw it was the day Dean proposed about 10 years ago.


(While every other kid told Santa what they wanted out loud, Brooks insisted on whispering in Santa’s ear because he wanted to ask for Pokemon cards which is something mom banned from our house the second half of 2017 – too much fighting, leaving them all over, and not doing chores, homework, etc. because they were busy trading. The boy is ballsy – isn’t he 🙂 )

One thing that was nice this year is that we tried to take a step back and not force so much at the holidays.  We still did all kinds of fun activities like building gingerbread houses, visiting Santa, lots of Christmas movies and hot chocolate, driving to see Christmas lights in nearby neighborhoods, but I feel like we are often traveling or trying to fit in other extras and we really took a lot of that out and it was just Dean and I with our boys.  Another really special thing at Christmas this year is when we went to the Christmas Eve service, Landon raised his hand and committed his life to Jesus. That was the biggest highlight of the holiday for me.  I definitely cried when he said his prayer.



So that was our 2017 in a single blog post (from where I cut off last Spring.)  Of course, I missed so many of the details of each month like weekends away with friends/family and special cousin activities throughout the year, but I think the highlights cover it pretty well 🙂


The cost of my yes.

I’m reading a book with my women’s bible study called “Present Over Perfect” and while I’m only halfway through, generally the premise is that so often we get stuck trying to be everything for everyone, except for those we really need to be there for.  We’ll bend over backwards for those who are in our “outer circle” (your happy hour buddies, friends I see 3x a year) but they aren’t really our “people”.  My people are my family, my closest friends… these are the people that I’m going to call when I get crazy news – good or bad.

And as a result, we live this frantic life trying to do, do, do.  We leave no margin in our life and so we are exhausted and overrun. We keep ourselves busy doing unimportant tasks for people who really aren’t that important to us.  We’ll cancel our family plans because our boss’ boss asked us to start a huge project at 4pm on a Friday (due Monday morning).  Or we’ll try to take on the Team Mom, Room Mom and PTA Coordinator roles – but by the time our kids get off the bus, we’re wiped out and angry because we’ve been stretched too thin trying to be too much for everyone else.

I can completely relate to this.  I often say yes to too much and then our family life suffers.  I sign us up to volunteer for events, or to host friends on the same day we have back-to-back sports activities.  I find I either say YES to everything, or YES to nothing.  It’s hard to find that happy medium.  So our life will be crazy hectic for 4-5 weeks and then completely dead for a month or two so we can recover.

Even when I’m resting, I’m not really resting.  I’m mentally planning my kid’s upcoming birthday party or I’m folding laundry while I relax and watch a show. I think mom’s are especially guilty because we take on so much when it comes to our children. I want to be super mom and working mom and helper/volunteer mom and party planning mom and playdate mom.  I want it all.

But at what cost?  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  How can I really find the balance that we need for our family?  This book has really helped me remember that sometimes saying YES to something only feels important for a moment, but when I look back at my life, does my YES really matter.  I want to do things that make our family better.  That give us more margin to do things God might spring on us.  Not to have us suffering as we run from one activity to the next, one to-do list to the next.

Landon Robert is 7.


This sweet thang turns 7 today. He is the perfect firstborn.  Easy going. Responsible. Fun. Hardworking. Adorable.

There are so many things I love about this boy.  I love how his role as older brother as really evolved over the past year.  He really cares about his brother and is fiercely protective of him.

Landon, Brooks and I were on a recent bike ride and several times something happened where Brooks fell behind, fell off his bike, got stuck in the middle of a big hill and this boy just turned into super brother, quickly finding out what was wrong and helping his little brother out.  He hopped off his bike, grabbed B’s bike and walked it up the hill, then went back down and got his own bike.  There are examples like this all the time of how sweet his is taking care of Brooks.

I love how he gets along with everyone.  He is loved by so many in his class. The teachers tell me he gets along with everyone.  He’s a natural peacemaker and avoids conflict.

fall leaves L

He is just all-around awesome. He works hard no matter if it’s reading, helping in the yard, working on his sports skills or doing a chore like cleaning the playroom or putting dishes away.

I am so proud of who this boy is and what he stands for.  He is joy, love, kindness and tenderness all wrapped in one. I get choked up just thinking about the fact that I’m already about halfway through my parenting job.  I can’t believe he’s been my baby for 7 years already.  It’s flying by.

Happy birthday to my sweet Landon Robert.  You are the awesome-est young man and I’m so proud of who you are and what you bring to our family.  I can’t wait to smother you with kisses (while I still kinda can) and love on you all day.  I love you (times a million bajillion)!



Recent weekend highlights

With my slack blog posting efforts, I’m going to throw a couple random recent weekend highlights into one post.  Straight from my camera phone – recent weekend highlights:


This was one of my favorite moments recently. Just me and my two boys sitting on the floor. This was shortly after Blouie Finn joined the family, so we were keeping him company in Brooks’ room.  The boys were sorting and trading their Pokemon cards. I was asking them important life questions – What was the best part of your weekend? If you could only eat one food for every meal what would it be? What’s better – basketball or baseball?  I’m a real life, Barbara Walters with my intellectual questions 🙂  No distractions, just heart-to-heart convos with these kids.


Pie Face was hilarious. Each time it would get close to Brooks, he’d pop his head back just in time and the whipped cream would fly over his head onto the floor.  Finally, Dean stood behind him and held his head in place.  That’s what I call good parenting! Plus, gotta love their Steelers gear!


Landon rocking out his basketball game!  I think this was the last game of the season.  He’s on the far right with a few of his teammates.  Waiting for what he calls the best part of the game – the star sticker rewards and snacks.  #kidsthesedays  #go13


Peanut butter-marshmallow-chocolate fondue.  Yes. Please.  It was delicious.  My favorite is definitely the bananas and the strawberries. Hmm… what would make this better? (A favorite question when eating meals with the Bradbury side of the family) Answer: Not much.


I found this apology note in the couch cushion.  He never gave it to me, but I found it and asked about it.  I wish I could call this #parentingwin but Landon did this all on his own.  Dear mom, I am so so sorry for being mean to you. Will you forgive me? My heart burst a little when I read it.


We finally scheduled our adults-only family date night (plus Jonas).  My parents treated us to an Escape Hour and it was so much fun.  Plus we escaped!  Sidenote: How hilarious is it that my nephew Jonas and Dean are matching!? (navy stripe shirt, khaki pants, brown shoes.)  The only thing Dean was missing was the ginormous blow out Jonas wore later at dinner. 🙂

So there you have it… fun weekend memories captured on my phone. Our life lately.

Parenting battle: Leaders vs. Followers

On a recent run, I had a realization about my parenting. (I think most of my realizations in life come on runs. I think that’s where God likes to talk to me.)  Lately, I’ve noticed my firstborn is really starting to “follow the crowd” at school.  He’s skipping out on participation and theme days because all of his friends aren’t participating.  This same boy who just a few months ago loved to do all the “extra” activities has now decided that he’s too cool to participate because his friends don’t want to.

I’ve tried to reason with him that it’s actually great practice to stand up and do what you do, even if your friends don’t think it’s a “cool” choice.  After all, the battles he’s facing now with peer pressure are nothing compared to what he’ll face in the next 5-10 years.  I want to set him up for success in life by being able to confidently make his own choices, even if no one else is making that same choice.  The ol’ “if your friends are jumping off a bridge” conundrum.

My realization came less with how things are going with Landon (my firstborn), but more with how I’m handling my secondborn – Brooks.  Brooks is the epitome of “leader” – that boy doesn’t follow any crowd.  When everyone else is playing a game, he’s completely content to go do something else he wants to do.  He has this cool confidence with his choices.  And the challenge is trying to “break him” of always doing things his way.

I realize that I have to be more careful with what I’m teaching him.  He’s a leader and outside of the box thinker, and I don’t want him to learn to “be part of the crowd”.  It’s really the balance of pushing him to lead but also helping him recognize times when he needs to follow (i.e. when the class is working on an assignment is not the best time to ‘do his own thing’).

I admire Brooksie’s confidence and the way he doesn’t do the same thing that everyone else does.  But with that means he’s going to defy my directions more often and push harder to do things his way.

Alternately, while Landon is a rule follower and often very quick to obey anything I ask him to do, I’ve also found he’s quick to follow the guidance of his friends.

Thus my parenting struggle, pushing one to disobey the rules a little more and gain more of his own voice, while finding small ways to keep my independent spirit in line so he isn’t always trying to run his own show and he knows when he it’s time to comply.

Two sons.  Complete opposites.  Parenting challenge.


The best parts of my day.

I think we all find ourselves in moments of our day where we wish we could stop time.  Or take a mental picture that never fades.  The parenting moments that make my heart skip a beat.  The times it feels like we were plucked right out of a magazine ad.  These are some of the best parts of my day:

Snuggling in bed with my kids, with fresh pjs and wet “just showered” hair.  Often watching a kids cooking show and discussing what we’d make if we were on the show.

Tucking them in at night.  Hearing the highs and lows of their day. What made them laugh? What made them feel silly? Did someone/something make them sad?

An extra special prayer.  The moments that my kids remember a prayer request and pray on their own accord.  For a neighbor, or a sick friend.  Not just the “thank you for the day and my toys and cozy jammies” the ones that have an extra something to them.

Dance parties in the car.  Music blasting and my eyes darting to the backseat to see my boys singing the words and throwing their hands up to the beat.

An unprompted, unexpected thank you.  When Brooks comes and says, “thanks mom for the note in my lunch. It made me smile today.”

My kids laughing.  Their real, head back, belly laugh.  It can be the result of a tickle war or a joke that only the two of them understand.  But I love those moments where they are just uncontrollably laughing.  Absolute joy written all over their faces.

Yes, like all families we get the fighting or the “why isn’t he doing it, too?”  But in between these moments, there are the highlights.  The snapshots that I take hundreds of time each week. The ones that make me say, please time, slow down.

Making 2017 a success. #goals

Yesterday we hit a recap of 2016 goals and how I did.  Some things were great and others could have used a little more work.  Here’s what I want to do this year.

  • Faith – Pray more.  I’m pretty good at the meal prayers or the short, in the spur of the moment prayer, but I want to do a better job of the thoughtful prayer. The prayer where I sit by myself for 10 mins and thank God for all He’s done – specifically – and then come to Him with my requests.  I used to get into some deep prayers in my personal time and I’ve really gotten away from it.
  • Family – Dean family of 4 trip. No other family members or friends, just the four of us away somewhere for a few days.  We also have a special beach weekend with just Brooks on our radar – his “I’m going to kindergarten soon” trip with just the three of us – mom-dad-Brooks.  Also, I’d like to do at least 6 lunch dates with my kids this year – during their school day.  I know that it won’t be too long before Landon doesn’t want me interrupting his lunches with his friends, so I’m going to get them in while I can.  I also want to get back to helping my kids memorize scriptures.  When they were younger, we really worked on this a lot and I’d like to get my kids back on track. I think 10 verses this year is a good goal.
  • Marriage – I think if we did one date a month that would be a good goal.  I’m sure 12 dates doesn’t seem like much but when we it takes work and neither of us are gung ho about planning dates or coordinating childcare, it’s a really good start.  It would also be good to do a weekend away, or even a night.  Maybe an impromptu last minute deal trip somewhere?!
  • Financial – I haven’t put pencil to paper on this yet, but I’m sure I’ll come up with a few lofty goals for our family – savings for college, retirement, church tithing, saving, etc.  I’ll also probably need a new car this year, so that applies!
  • House – I always have a bunch of house goals.  Here are my top ones:  redo our master bathroom – for our functionality, we need a nice big shower and that’s pretty much the only thing our master bath is missing. So I want to redo it and make it a cozy and light colored set up.  Set up our playroom/entertainment area.  This means we need to do a toy detox!  And set up our playroom into two separate spaces.  I’d also like to do some smaller weekend projects like painting and hanging molding in our half bath and installing outdoor lighting.
  • Health – More than 50% of the days this year, I’d like to exercise – even if it’s 50.0001% of the days 😉  (So, 183 is the goal!)
  • Personal – I still think counseling should stay on my list for this year.  This is something I need to be a better me.  I’d also like to stay off social media more.  I find that if I look at Facebook, I can get sucked in, but when I stay off of it, I don’t miss it.  I don’t like what comparison does to me and since social media is always putting your highlights out there, I do better not looking at it.

So there you have it.  My goals and plans for the year.  I know some will be easier than others to achieve, but I like having things to “cross of a list” or strive for.