Alabama Dirt

IMG_1529One of the first things I noticed about Alabama was the red dirt. Not initially. I was too busy trying to find things about here that I didn’t like. That first visit was so full of emotions…it was honestly a good trip but I came home feeling more sad and empty.
When we officially moved here, I noticed some construction by our new house, and immediately the red clay dirt caught my eye. How could it not? It’s so stunning. Especially in the heat of the summer against the deep greens of the wooded area that surrounds our home.
Naturally I wanted to go play 😉
I can remember playing in the dirt as a child. Wyatt is my little dare devil- he is all boy. I don’t know who teaches them these things…but he just loves all things dirt and silly and messy and fun. I found a little spot while out driving, and we swung by there one evening just for the fun of it.
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These pants are big brother’s. The suspenders were worn last year for a family session- he’s grown into them! Last year they were so loose and falling off. We had to pin them up and keep messing with them. Not on this day! My how he has grown 🙂

So I guess this is my first official session here in Alabama.
I finished all my Houston sessions today…now the real adventure begins?
And like Wyatt- I’m ready to get dirty and play.

Alabama Adventure

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I can’t believe how much our lives have changed since we first met in 2003. Too young to know what was ahead…
In 2009 we bought our little mulberry house with so many dreams in our hearts. It is the perfect little starter home and it needed so much love. We worked in the yard every weekend, we did repairs and upgrades, we poured ourselves into our home. We were proud and we had plans.
I take comfort in the fact that the plans we made are different than the way it turned out. What a good life, indeed. As we say goodbye (for now) to the little home where it all started, I have been reflecting on the sweetness that was that experience. We built a life there. One that was messy and crazy and fun and most importantly *ours*.
We made lifelong friends on that cul-d-sac. We made lifelong memories in that yard.
We cried, we loved, we struggled, we fought, we laughed, we played…we homed that house hard.
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I couldn’t stand the thought of this house not being ours. It was our first. We brought all our babies home to this house.
So we decided to keep the property (and thus a part of our heart) in Texas. Renting out and maintaining a house that we adore so much has a certain sense of accomplishment and reward to it.
I feel like it leaves us open to other possibilities and helps me feel more grounded there.

We leave our mulberry house to explore what else this life has in planned. This move was certainly never on our radar and leaving family behind has been quite difficult. I don’t feel like myself right now.
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I look at that first picture from 2009 and I can’t believe how young and full of hope we were.
The older, more cynical me, wants to hold that girl, look her in the face and tell her how hard it’s been. How different the plans are. Prepare her. But then…I look at the last pictures taken there. Same house. Same flower bed. Same two people. Full of hopes and dreams and love and excitement. It’s still there. That girl is still there. Some fear yes. But my, look how we have grown! Look how the yard has changed because of those fears and tears and hopes and love.
Our children- we toiled and struggled and cried out and prayed and now we stand on the other side, arms full and hearts overflowing.
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As I write this, tears flow freely. The heat streaming down my cheeks…a raw reminder that growth is painful but so good for me. This has been hard but I think that the mulberry chapter needed to be closed.
We needed room to grow and change and be challenged.
Alabama will be as good as we make it.
Just like our little starter home in Texas.

Don’t dig up in doubt, what you planted in faith. – Elizabeth Elliot

Family Update

Summer is settling in and I’m slowly accepting it. For Texas, we have had a pretty mild start with lots of rain and overcast days. I’m not complaining. 

Last night, I sat on the driveway with a cold beer in my hand while my children ran up and down the street. The breeze was helping with the humidity, the sunset was beautiful and I had the sweet scent of Gardenias wafting straight to my heart. That smell…it only comes this time of year and I’m always caught off guard when memories come flooding back, triggered by that simple little white flower. 
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On this same drive way, three years ago, I was painting and preparing an old armoire with the smell of Gardenias in the air. The armoire now resides in sweet Rubys room after many hot nights of refurbishing and transforming that old piece of furniture. So many hopes and dreams…I would come home every day after work to dive back into my project. 

A girl. I was going to have a baby girl. 

So of course the armoire needed to be the perfect shabby chic coral color with wallpapered insides. My heart swelled. What would this armoire become for her? A dress-up closet? A place to store toys and dolls? The perfect tiny linen closet? Would she want to repaint and redesign it later? Would she take it with her to college? 

Because I wasn’t the one carrying her, I would spend countless hours imagining what that pregnancy was like. What her personality was. What she would look like. I tried to imagine how I would feel the first time my eyes met hers. And I filled my time up with preparing the perfect nursery because it was my only way to connect with her. 

Ruby will be two in August and I still feel like I am working to learn who she is and understand her. There are so many days I feel like I’m failing her. But then the wind blows, and the sweet scent on the air pulls me out of my thoughts. I look down and I see her standing there smiling at me. Her favorite blanket tucked under her chin, she waves and says “hiiiiii” and then runs away laughing. 

“She’s going to be ok” I tell myself. 

And she will. 

SPD has come in waves. When we make a gain in one area, SPD comes back to remind us that there is still real work to be done. Now that Eli is in school and has private therapies, I am busier than ever. We are not home as often and Ruby is forced to face things that agitate her. Thank you SPD. 🙂 It challenges me- all the things I thought I knew about parenting and being a mama…all the things I said I would never allow my children to do become so relative when run through the “SPD” filter. My heart has grown in so many ways and I have a new respect for my mom and other moms like her. I also care a lot less about what other people think, because they don’t know my children or our situation. Grace. I’m trying to have more of it and give more of it. 

I’m still learning. I think I always will be. But learning to embrace who my children are instead of who I imagined they would be has been such an introspective journey. I’m learning more about myself and enjoying these changing seasons. The Gardenia is a picky little plant- requiring just the right environment to flourish. It means “secret love” but the secret it out and I want to spend more time with this fickle flower. Oh my precious Ruby- I’m working on your environment. I want to get it right. I want to see you flourish and I want to enjoy the love the blooms as a result. I know you do too. I want to be a mom worthy of you. 

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