Landon’s Birthday

I can’t believe we’re nearing April.  2018 seems to be off to a great start for the Dean family.

At the beginning of the month, we found some ways to celebrate Mr. Landon turning 8 years old.  On his actual birthday, he picked his favorite restaurant – Red Robin – for dinner, then we took him out for some family bowling.

It was a late night – the bowling worker told us each game might take 15-20 mins so we signed up for 2 games.  Turns out he was completely wrong and it took us about 1.5 hours to get through 2 games.  (And Dean and I were both sore the next day from so many bowls!) Of course, we made sure there was still time for a cupcake before bed!


Then, because his birthday was on a Thursday, we spent the weekend making his special birthday cake – RED VELVET – and held a birthday celebration for Landon and his two birthday cousins (the three of them celebrate their birthday within 4 days – I know, crazy right?!)

We hit a local park for some soccer and a game of kickball – then ate some leftover cake from all the birthday celebrations from earlier in the week!

There were no Pinterest decorations or themes.  We didn’t have 30 kids come over.  It was so simple and perfect. Family, fun and beautiful weather.


What a fun way to celebrate this sweet thing!


Married at 19.

My parents got married at 19.

Today they celebrate anniversary #37.


This means they’ve spent 2/3 of their life together.  That’s a huge commitment.  I’d argue that it’s really hard/impossible for them to remember what life is like without each other.  When you get married at 19, there are a lot of years ahead of you, and you haven’t had many years to figure out who you are as an adult, separate of your parents. I think people change a lot from their teens to 30.  You face situations that change you and force you to grow into your own person.

I think one of the best lessons they’ve passed along to us over the years ties to that.  That although they got married to each other at 19, they’ve remained married into their 50s.  To do that, you have to be willing to give your mate the freedom to grow and change.  They aren’t the same person they were standing at the end of that aisle.

So often, the reason listed for a divorce is “irreconcilable differences” – which basically means, we were once compatible but one or both of us has changed to the point where we are no longer a fit.

My parents have worked through a lot of differences over the years.  However, they’ve made the choice to make them reconcilable differences.  My mom’s had to loosen her expectations on punctuality and organization.  And my dad’s had to tighten his priorities in these areas.  They’ve had to find a tender balance between kids/grandkids, marriage, work and fun.

They’ve also had to give each other grace and room to grow as individuals at age 20, 30, 40 and 50.  Allowing their spouse room to change.  When you wait to get married until you are 30 or 35 – you’ve had the opportunity to discover for yourself who you want to be without having to worry about how this might impact your marriage and your spouse.  Instead this discovery was something they had to do together.

I’m proud of the way my parents have made their marriage work, by accepting (and even appreciating, at times) the way their partner is changing and evolving.  It’s a lesson to me for how I need to treat my own marriage – giving room for Dean to change and not expecting him to be the same Dean I met when I was 20 years old or who I married when I was 27 years old.  Giving him grace for the gaps in our expectations of each other.  And supporting him as he grows into the person he’s becoming.

So cheers to you mom and dad! I hope Dean and I can rock it at our #37 the way you have!

Mr. Bear is 6

Oh my little bear… I love so many things about you and I can’t wait to celebrate your 6 years of life today.


BRAVE: I love how brave you are.  You love a challenge.  While the rest of your family takes comfort in things we are familiar with, you love trying new things, even if it will take a while to master it.  You begged to try the catcher position in baseball this fall – and turns out, you loved it!


CUTE:  You are such a cute little bugger and you know it.  I love the faces you make and the personality you add to everything.  You bring the excitement to our household.


CONFIDENT:  No matter what, you nail it.  You walk into any room with confidence and are the opposite of a wall flower.  If I ask you to get in character, you have no problem doing just that!


GENEROUS:  I love how thoughtful and generous you are.  It reminds me of my sister when I was growing up. She never hesitated if I asked to borrow her clothes or play with her new toys, even though I wasn’t always so quick to reciprocate.  I see this in how you treat Landon like gold – always willing to give him your dollars if he wants to buy something, or like in the picture above when we took you out to lunch and when the bill came, you pulled a $5 you had tucked into your pocket and told us you wanted to pay for lunch.  We love encouraging this generosity and spirit.  This is definitely a trait God handpicked for you and it makes you so special.


SILLY:  It makes my heart smile when I find random selfies you’ve taken on my phone or iPod, little reminders of your silly personality shine through with funny stories and crazy candid shots.  Mini treasures that I stumble across unexpectedly in my days.  I hope you always keep this silly playfulness in your personality and the world doesn’t soften this in you.


AWESOME: You are just awesome.  You bring so much fun to our family. I’m amazed at how observant and smart you are.  You don’t think like others, you think in your own special Brooksie way that is beyond your years. I love you Brooksie Matthew and can’t wait to sneak you out of school this afternoon to hit the mountains for a snow day (your birthday wish!)

Happy 6th Birthday Brooksie Bear!

Landon turns 7: Cooking Party

Landon and his cousin, Harleigh, are three days apart.  They were born in the same hospital, side by side in the nursery, just down the hall from each other from the start.  They’ve been in the same preschool together and now are in the same elementary school.

While they haven’t been assigned the same teacher for K or 1st grade, they still try to find each other during lunch, recess and other times to say hi.

Plus, we are regularly doing family dinners, so the cousins get to hang out a lot.

Since we’ve started seeing more “gender separation” over the course of the past year (i.e. Harleigh wanting to do more girly activities with the girl cousins and Landon wanting to roughhouse with the boy cousins), we weren’t sure if they would still want to do a combined party – as they’ve done for every other party in their life.  We thought she might want a pedicure party and he’d want a superhero party or something.

We asked and they insisted on a joint party together and wanted to do a cooking class.  And it was awesome, because they each got to invite some of their classmates – who also know each other thru school – and everyone had a great time.

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The class was great – they did individual pizzas and molten chocolate cakes.  And to take home, they made slime/flubber.  The instructors did a great job keeping their audience engaged and also made it very interactive.  For example, if they needed 4 cups of flour, they did it in 1/2 c increments so 8 people got to do flour. So everyone got to pour, mix, add a lot of things!

If you’re in Charlotte and looking for a fun cooking experience for a kids party, Flour Power was great!

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.

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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)!



Married: 8 years

8 years.  In eight years, we’ve done a lot.  We’ve had two kids, lived in two houses, changed jobs, participated in several couples bible studies, taken lots of beach trips, a few international vacations and more.


Yes, those are the big things.  But the big things are just that – big – extraordinary – not the norm.  It’s actually the little things that really make up our marriage.

In those 8 years we’ve gone grocery shopping together over 500 times, we’ve tucked in the kids over 2,300 times, we’ve made 2,000+ dinners together – some out of a box, some from scratch, and we’ve watched every episode of Big Bang Theory. But that’s not all.


We’ve also had at least 100 fights – some big, some small – and we’ve apologized at least that often.  We’ve disagreed on everything from decorating our house (no we aren’t going with his purple Ravens Man Cave idea) to disciplining our kids. I still yell at him at least once a week about his driving skills and he “reminds” me not to be quite so opinionated whenever I meet someone for the first time.


But there have also been hundreds of kisses; huge, enveloping hugs at just the right moment; laughter in bed as we talk about our life (and kids!) and so many fears, secrets and dreams shared.

It’s been a busy 8 years, and I’m thankful for every day of it.


First Day: First Grade.

Landon kicked off first grade this week. He told me more than once in the week leading up to it that he was “excited, but a little nervous, too.”

I have no doubt he’s going to love this year. He’s already improved on his reading so much since last spring and I know he’s really excited about learning harder math problems.

We had to fill out a “Get to Know Me” sheet for his teacher. Here were some of his highlights:

Favorite Food: Mac N Cheese
Favorite Class: PE and Computers  (Math, too)
Favorite Thing To Do Outside of School: Play outside, ride my bike, play baseball
Favorite Color: Blue and Pink
Something you want to do this year: Read chapter books

He and his cousin, Harleigh, are at the same school again, but didn’t get put in the same class, so they’ll have to settle for hanging at recess and a quick wave at lunchtime!

Yes, Dean and I look really awake in this family shot! 🙂

I know that this is going to be a great year for you. You love to learn and work hard to get better at things and school is no different. I can’t wait to see you get better at reading and writing. I know I’ll be shocked by your math and computer skills.

Outside of learning subjects in school, I pray that you continually develop other skills this year, too. Things like compassion, leadership and respect.  While math and science are important, these values are the things that will get you places in life.  They’ll shape who you’ll be as a man.

I’m so proud of the boy you’re becoming, your dad and I are so thankful for you.

Your biggest fan,