Life Hacks for Busy Moms – Grocery Shopping

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As I grow a little older and get a little comfortable in my role as wife and working mom, I’ve come to realize that life has to be simple. Prioritized. I can’t do everything, and my time is so precious, I want to spend it doing the things that are important to me and my people.

That 90 minutes it takes to drive to the grocery store, load my cart and check out, drive home, and unload groceries (not to mention meal planning, which I am terrible at) is time I would rather spend playing in the backyard with my kiddo. Or catching up on chores. Or knocking out a work project. Or (gasp) taking a nap. Maybe taking a bubble bath. Heck, even cooking dinner.

I only go to the grocery store about once a month now. Granted, I have an amazing chef husband who runs by the store to pick up random items that pop up at the last minute, and he does ALL the grocery shopping when we host friends (bless him), but the rest of the time, here’s how I automate my shopping (note: I did not receive any compensation for this post – all reviews are purely my own):

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I have been using Blue Apron for about six months and it’s glorious. Someone else meal plans for me, and every single ingredient is delivered to my doorstep on Saturday morning. Our family has 2-3 meals a week like this, plus lots of leftovers. The downside: meals rarely repeat, so we aren’t creating family food traditions. The upside: I don’t have to mealplan, the meals are tasty and healthy, and we get a lot less take-out. Plus, I still get to crank the music up in my kitchen and cook healthy meals for my family. It’s kind of relaxing.

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God bless Amazon. I don’t know how working moms did it before this life-changing invention. I use Amazon NOW for fresh/cold food items in between our big grocery store runs. It’s great for restocking lunch meat, or apples/bananas, even laundry detergent. They deliver milk, although it’s more expensive, so I reserve that for emergencies only.

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Did I mention I love Amazon? I use Pantry for most of our toiletries (we always have at least one back-up of everything on-hand), cereal, granola bars, apple sauce for Wrenn, and household cleaning items. Just about everything on there is comparable to our local grocery store. Delivery is $5.99, but considering it saves me precious time and gas money, it’s well worth it.

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Occasionally I can find cleaning supplies or toiletries on “regular” Amazon, and with my Prime subscription, delivery is free. Back before Wrenn was potty trained, it was my go-to for diapers and wipes, and I still use it for house-hold items (Lose a sippy cup? Need batteries? Just pull up my Amazon app and I can place an order without ever having to give it a second thought.)

imgresWe have a Braums close to our house, and we use that for milk, bread, basic produce, and meat/dairy. There’s never a line, parking is close, and since it’s so easy, I can buy smaller amounts more frequently, which means less waste. I had never considered Braums until my lovely husband introduced me to it- now I wonder why it took me so long! (PS – their milk is SO cheap!)

And there you go. I free up so much time and brain space by simply pulling up apps on my phone and purchasing items or stocking my cart as I realize a need instead of trying to remember. (Running low on shampoo? let me grab my phone…) And that leaves me with extra time to do fabulous things… like laundry. And cuddling on the couch with my tribe. Even washing my hair.

For more life hacks, check out my post over on the Fort Worth Moms Blog.

And now for a giveaway! I am giving away a FREE MEAL from Blue Apron to TWO of my readers! Comment below with what you could do with the extra time you saved from NOT going to the grocery store, and I’ll randomly draw TWO winners! Deadline to enter is Monday, April 25.

What my toddler has taught me about God’s love

I always tell people that marriage taught me how much I need a Savior, and motherhood has taught me how much my Savior loves me. Suddenly, I see life through a totally different perspective. I look at my child and more than anything, I want her to know that I love her. That’s she’s secure. That she her worth is not based on her behavior or her appearance or anything she can accomplish. She can’t earn my love. I love her simply because she’s mine.

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The following are life lessons I’ve been teaching Wrenn, that are really also teaching me:

It’s okay to be angry, but you still must be kind.

It’s okay to be sad, but you still must be kind.

God loves you even when you make bad choices.

I forgive you, and God forgives you.

When something’s wrong, stop everything and pray. 

Kind words are not enough. You must also use a kind voice and a kind face.

Our choices have consequences. But I will always forgive you.

God cares about the tiniest details.

Tomorrow is a new day. 

Oh, if only I could remember these truths when I look to my own Father, and think about how much He loves me. Not based on my performance. Or anything, rather, that I could ever do to earn his love. He loves me simply because I’m His.

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Adventures in potty training and the giant living in our home

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Potty training in bullet points:

  • Wrenn’s 3-year-old (boy) cousin taught her how to use the potty. I’m hoping that’s not going to be something that lands both of them in therapy someday. But it worked!
  • My child is crazy motivated by chocolate. Anytime she has “success” she runs out of her room yelling, “Mommy, I NEED CHOCOLATE!!!” Funny, that’s how her dad is motivated as well.
  • I learned an important lesson: Immediately dump the potty after she goes or the DOG WILL DRINK ALL OF IT AND YOU WILL WANT TO THROW UP OR DIE.
  • My mother-in-law had to tell me there’s an escape hatch on pull-ups for #2. I’m going to add that to the list of things people should warn new parents about, along with: don’t feed your kids too many bananas or they’ll never poo again (I learned that the VERY hard way).
  • I have no idea how to go from “Yay, you peed in the potty four times today” to “Yay, you’re wearing big girl undies and mama doesn’t have to spend $50 a month on diapers anymore!” I actually let her pick out some undies (it was a tough choice between Little Mermaid and Frozen, but she went with the mermaid) thinking we would give them a go, and then I remmebered… POO. That has yet to happen in the potty. And this mama is NOT cleaning POO off of Arial’s head. So moms… feel free to tell me what the next step is, as long as that next step doesn’t involve me cleaning poo messes off my couch.

And our new housemate:

On a completely unrelated note but still something I want to remember forever – it turns out that an imaginary green giant has moved into our home. Wrenn points him out – filled with all the wonder and fantasy of a two-year-old – and we wave at him, hide from him, laugh with him,  wake him up when he’s sleeping, pretend we’re scared of him, and draw pictures of him. His name is Jovie the Monkey and sometimes he’s a bald giant with glasses and sometimes he’s a snake, but he’s always big. Regardless, I love the wonder and imagination that this child brings to our home, and I hope this giant chooses to stick around for awhile.

Bold Prayers

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I’m reading Praying Circles Around Your Children, and already it’s changing me.

“Prayer is the way we take our hands off and place our children in the hands of God.” (Batterson)

This book is inspiring me, y’all. Tonight I snuck into Wrenn’s room after she went to bed, knelt down by her crib, and prayed big prayers over my child while she slept. It’s the greatest gift I can give her, the greatest defense against all of the challenges she will ever face, and the greatest way to ensure that I’m the kind of mother God called me to be. I may not be perfect, but I can pray.

Greetings from quarantine

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There aren’t enough Disney movies in the world to keep a sick toddler happy.

I’m not making light of kiddos who are REALLY sick. That’s downright awful and terrifying, and those mamas need extra hugs and prayers.

No, what I’m talking about is having a kiddo who is just sick enough to feel crummy – nothing life threatening. In our case, my kiddo had a high fever and some asthma problems, which means we haven’t slept in a week, and when she’s awake, she’s the GRUMPIEST THING IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

I know you’re surprised. Because my two-year-old could NEVER throw a terrible tantrum. Who am I kidding, she has thrown some epic tantrums on days when she felt absolutely fine. So please imagine with me for just a moment the kinds of tantrums I have witnessed over the past week from my sleep-deprived, feverish, MAD AS HECK two-year-old.

Yeah. I think I need extra hugs and prayers too.

Let’s just say that this mama has had a challenging week. See, challenging is code for BAD. It sounds so much more “glass is half full,” doesn’t it?

So yeah, it was a rough week over at the Right House. We haven’t had a good night’s sleep in about 10 nights because of that dang asthma, and then for the past five days or so we’ve had a cranky, crying, yelling, feverish toddler who also caught a random virus. Here’s how most of our conversations have gone:

(Me, ever so lovingly and patiently): Honey, would you like some milk?

(My crazy demanding toddler): NO! (with arms crossed, yelling, of course)

(Me, ever so lovingly and patiently): Okay. (closes fridge)

(My crazy demanding toddler): MIIIIIIIILLLLKKKK! Mommy, I want MILK! NOWWWWW!!!! (as she throws her toy across the room, pounds the wall with her fist, then throws herself dramatically on the floor and cries hysterically)

So yeah, this week has been absolutely precious.

It’s such mean twist of fate that at the very time that my precious child needs EXTRA love and grace and patience, Mr. Right and I haven’t slept well in 10 straight nights. Like, several nights we got up over and OVER AND OVER to console our screaming child, give her breathing treatments, bring her milk, rock her back to sleep, BEG HER TO SLEEP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

I would love to take a hammer to that baby monitor.

And then, because she’s sick and contagious, it means we’re home on quarantine. ALL DAY LONG. For a hot minute I fantasized that I would get so many things done, or maybe just sit and cuddle my precious child and watch movies all day.

Yeah, that’s not exactly how our quarantine has gone. It has been filled mostly with a certain someone screaming, “Mommy! Mommy! MOOOOOMMMMMMYYYYYY!” for hours at a time while nothing I do soothes her.

Instead, I have fantasized about drinking a margarita. For breakfast.

But I am happy to report that this morning she woke up her normal, delightful, non-feverish self. Praise the Lord, my crazy tantrum-throwing, happy-with-nothing child has been replaced with the one who loves to give kisses and snuggles and can sometimes make a decision and hasn’t been in time-out a single time all morning.

His mercies are new every morning. And I’m counting down the minutes until naptime… because this mama has a lot of sleep to catch up on.

A night off and adventures for everybody

Parenthood is full of so many contradictions. The biggest one may be this:

1. I love my child and want to be around her ALL THE TIME. I have tailored my career, my hobbies, and my schedule, so that it includes plenty of time to spend with her. Because she’s only a kid once.

2. The minute someone offers to babysit (especially overnight!!!) I’m all like, “Peace out kiddo – mama is getting a night OFF!!!!!!!

Can I get an amen?

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Even though we had just had an overnight date a few weeks ago, when the grandparents offered to keep Wrenn overnight so she could spend some extra time with her cousins who were in town visiting, we didn’t think twice. We immediately made reservations at our favorite spot and started counting down the minutes until we could have a hot date. And sleep all night without a baby monitor. And carry one of those tiny clutches instead of a giant mom purse and baby backpack.

It’s the little things, y’all.

I was already as giddy as a high school girl who was asked to Homecoming (have I mentioned that I married the Homecoming King? Yeah. I did.) Then, Mr. Right took it up a notch by sending me FLOWERS. To work. In front of everybody.

I pretty much met him at the door when he came home with a goofy grin on my face ready for a night of fun.

And I would show you photos of this night of fun, but we had too much fun to actually TAKE any pictures. Just imagine me all dressed up – IN HIGH HEELS – having a really great hair day. And Mr. Right looking studly in a new fall-colored shirt he was really proud of. We went to one of our favorite spots (Fort Worth friends… get thee there NOW) and indulged on PBJ chicken wings, fried chicken sliders, mac-n-cheese with bacon and jalapenos, and oysters. We talked about grown-up things and nobody threw a tantrum at the table (sorry Wrenn) and it was so… quiet.

After that, Mr. Right took me out for ice cream BECAUSE HE LOVES ME. And then we came home and sat on the back porch and talked about our upcoming adventure to New York and all the fun things we wanted to do while we’re there. It was such a fun night.

(And mom… don’t worry, we didn’t get any more tattoos.)

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The next morning Mr. Right was up before dawn while I slept in until 7:30 (which is my version of noon). While he rode his bike 47 miles from Fort Worth to Dallas, I got a massage and enjoyed a quiet morning to myself. I failed at the “no housework” thing – the weather was just so glorious that I couldn’t help myself… I cleaned out our garage and did some work in the garden. It was a great excuse to get outside on the first cool(er) day in two months.

And then I napped so hard I woke up completely disoriented. That means it was a really good nap, my friends.

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While we enjoyed 24 hours of care-free responsibility, little Wrenn got to spend the most glorious day with her cousins in the country, riding the pony and 4-wheelers, playing with stickers and eating popsicles and watching princess movies and fighting over the grandparents’ attention.

This girl had FUN.

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When we finally reunited Saturday night, I figured she would come running to me, squealing with delight as she melted into my arms for the biggest hug ever. Instead, we walked in the door and she saw us and started yelling, “No! No! No!” Because girlfriend didn’t want us to take her home. She wanted to stay there forever.

Ahhh, motherhood.

How to love and care for a mom after a miscarriage

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I’ve watched loved ones walk through extreme grief, so I felt like I had a pretty good idea of how to show love to someone walking through it. But you always gain a better understanding once you walk through it on your own. This isn’t one of those posts where I tell you all the things you need to avoid saying, or not do, so as not to upset your friend. Because really, I knew that people around me were trying their best to show me love. And I understood.

But we all want to love people well. Based on my own experience with having a miscarriage, here are some ways to love on a mom after a miscarriage:

1. Tell her you love her, but don’t expect anything in return.

Walking through grief can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning as waves of emotions toss you around. As soon as I told friends and family, the calls and texts started to flood in. And I couldn’t bear to talk to anybody. Not a one. But just having them reach out to me in my time of personal crisis helped me to feel supported. Knowing I was prayed for got me through those fits of tears. It reminded me that I wasn’t alone.

Give her room to be a lousy friend. She’ll come back when she’s ready.

2. Share your own story.

If you’ve had a miscarriage, share your story of how you grieved. One of my friends texted me almost every day and would tell me the things that she grieved over. Many were the exact same things I was crying over. I wondered if my baby was a boy or a girl. I was heartbroken that he didn’t have a name (so I gave him a name). I longed to hold him in my arms. I missed the feeling that my body was carrying life. I began to dread what would happen next March when my due date comes and goes.

Sharing your story gives your friend the freedom to share hers. Don’t share the sugar-coated version, but be real. And listen. You might become a safe person to confide in.

3. Acknowledge the loss, but don’t worry about what you say.

My favorite response was from someone at work who just hugged me and said, “It sucks.” Because you know what? IT ROYALLY SUCKS. So just say it like it is. I didn’t need to hear words of wisdom or have someone make it better. I just needed to hear people say they loved me and they loved my baby and then give me room to put on my tough face to get through the outing. I didn’t want to cry on any shoulders in public. But a quick acknowledgement and a “How are you doing?” helped my heart. Because it was still a big deal to me. The biggest deal.

4. Pray. Pray. Pray.

When you’re hurting the most, sometimes it’s hard to know what to pray for. There just aren’t enough words. Or energy. Or tears. And that’s the time when you need other people to pray on your behalf – to know that you’re surrounded by people passionately crying out to God for you. So pray for your friend who is hurting, then shoot her a quick text message or drop her a note in the mail and let her know what you prayed.


Friends who have experienced a miscarriage – what other ways were you loved and cared for? I’d love to hear from you!

 

On a happier note: Life, lately

After my last post, I needed something light. As I grieved, I felt like my words were silenced. Writing was too painful. But now, a month later, I’m ready to write again. And since there’s nothing lighter than a two-year-old, here are some happy things from Little Wrenn lately:

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Wrenn is the most affectionate little thing. She’s obsessed with holding hands and regularly asks to “Rock,” which means read books in her rocking chair, or “Cuddle,” which means cuddling on the couch while watching “Mommy’s Show” (aka – Seinfeld). She tells me if she wants me to rub, pat, or scratch her back. I recently asked her to rub my back (which she so gently did for about three seconds), and the I asked her to rub my neck. She proceeded to come around to my front and rub on the front of my neck, right under my chin, with the most serious little expression. I love how literal she is!

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I have been trying to teach Wrenn to do small chores, like feeding the dog or putting her cup in the sink after she drinks her milk or picking up her crayons and coloring book. She has gotten pretty good at her chores, and each time she completes one (many times without being asked) she will run to me and shout, “HUG!” And I gladly oblige.

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If you ask Wrenn what she wants for breakfast, this is what she will list off:

  • Chocolate cake?
  • Pie?
  • Cookies?
  • Popsicle?

I promise she has never had any of these things for breakfast. Also – the girl is totally obsessed with popsicles… especially the red onesphoto (93)

Wrenn is a water baby. And fearless. This child will jump off the diving board and go fully under water and come out saying, “Again! Again!” This summer she has LOVED swimming. What she didn’t love was swimming lessons. Trying to be a good mom, I signed her up for toddler lessons through our city, and she refused to participate in almost every class. She just wanted to swim on her own without anybody telling her what to do. We decided to not fight it and just let her enjoy the pool – there is plenty of time left for her to learn to swim. For now, she can roam free with her floaties. As long as Mr. Right or I are close by.

Oh, may I always remember these little bits of joy that Wrenn brings!

We had a miscarriage

I found out I was pregnant on Mr. Right’s birthday. It was something we had been hoping for, but still, it was such a wonderful surprise. I wrapped this and gave it to him as a birthday present.

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He was so happy! We ended up telling our families that night, because we were SO excited. And also because we knew that we were already at a very high risk for miscarriage and needed our prayer warriors. I had some complications during the first trimester of my first pregnancy and at one point, my doctor told me that the odds were stacked against Wrenn, but through a miracle from God, Wrenn beat those odds.

I was having those same complications with this second pregnancy, so the doctor pulled me in for some testing. It took a week of monitoring my hormone levels, with many long waits between test results. Oh, how I hate the waiting for test results.

I got the news one week after I found out I was pregnant, that we had an indeed lost our precious baby. By that time, I already knew that in my gut, although I was still clinging to the hope that I was wrong. All of those pregnancy symptoms were gone, and my soul just knew that our precious baby was no longer with me.

I’ve had friends and family members who have lost a baby. When I started to share our news with those around us, I was amazed at how many people have been carrying that same secret around. That same pain. I feel like I have joined a club that I didn’t want to be a member of. A club where I will meet my child for the first time in heaven instead of here on earth.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen.

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Grief is a strange thing. I only knew I was pregnant for a week, so I only had those hopes and dreams of what my child would be like for such a short time. Just seven days. Other than a tiny bit of nausea, I never felt this baby.  And yet, when I found out he was gone, it was devastating. It was a life lost. A future gone. A part of our family that would be missing forever. The emotions have hit me in waves. I am totally fine, and then the grief hits me and I cry and cry and cry. One minute my heart is so heavy, and the next I am experiencing joy. Regular joy. I’m fine. And then not fine. And then fine… back and forth. Back and forth.

I took off a few days from work and decided to just be. To experience the grief, to give myself margin to feel and to mourn. I didn’t want to be around people, to spend the energy talking about regular things when MY BABY HAD JUST DIED. My friends and family were so wonderful to both of us, sending us flowers and chocolates and calling and texting and saying so many prayers on our behalf. I was too sad to respond to most of them, but they were so special to me. I spent about two weeks quilting and gardening and playing with Wrenn, taking long naps and crying in my car and avoiding people whenever possible.

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Here is what I know:

1. God is still good.  He was good when he did a miracle and saved Wrenn despite the odds, and he is still good, even though this precious child passed. My God is sovereign, and just, and loves my babies more than I do. I will continue to praise him even on days that my heart hurts. Please know that, my friends.

2. We’re going to be okay. Things are already better. It has been a month now, and I honestly feel like my old self again. Most of the time. That awful cloak of sadness seems lighter. I have been warned that it will hit me at weird times, but for today, I feel better than I did yesterday. I know that one day I will get to hold my child in heaven, to introduce him to Wrenn and my other future kiddos and smother him in kisses.

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In the meantime, I wanted to share my story with you, my dear readers, because the stories others have shared with me have been so comforting. Many people choose not to speak of a miscarriage,  and I completely understand. But I also have always found that the most comforting words to hear are, “Me too.” Those words bring me hope – that God can redeem hurt and loss by giving me a “Me too” when someone else is hurting. To be able to empathize with their pain and let them know that they will be okay.

So here I am… me too.

Our Fourth of July – My Favorite Weekend in Years

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Sometimes what you need – what your whole family needs – is a three day weekend filled with nothing but being outside, together, playing and making memories doing almost nothing at all. For me, this year’s Fourth of July was exactly that kind of weekend.

It started with a morning swim at my parents’ house (they were in Europe – lucky dogs), as well as a little swinging on their backyard playground set. My parents got all the cool toys after we grew up!
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Have I mentioned that Wrenn LOVES the pool? Our fearless girl will jump in, slide off a mat head first into the water… just like in all other areas of her life, she wants to be independent and push the limits and experience EVERYTHING in the water. Thankfully, her little floaties allow her to feel like she’s swimming all by herself.

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She had so much fun that she passed out on the way home. That evening we were scheduled to have friends over for dinner, but that fell through, so instead we washed our cars and cleaned the garage and got our bikes ready to ride. It was so good to just be outside, the three of us, and sweat and work and play.

We ended the night by taking a family bike ride and then running through the water hose.

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Saturday morning, the fourth, we took it easy because we knew we would have a late night. Mr. Right built Wrenn a blanket fort in the living room and I finished up one of my quilts (stay tuned for proper pictures later… as soon as I take them).

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Then we all took naps. I managed to fit in a nap every single day during our three day weekend. Bless.

Then we piled up in our car, along with just about everything we own (man, we stink at packing light), and drove over an hour away to our dear friends‘ house, where we sat out on a patio enjoying a country evening, and then walked to the old baptist church across the street and shot off fireworks for almost two hours.

Fireworks are one of my favorite things in the entire world, and much to my glee, little Wrenn loved them too. She kept saying, “Fireworks! Up High! Mickey Chair!” She’s still talking about it, two weeks later. They were going off right over our heads, and the sound didn’t bother her a bit. In fact, our little morning girl fell asleep in my arms about an hour in, and I relished an opportunity to cuddle with her sleeping against my chest. A rare treat.

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Sunday Wrenn was so exhausted that she slept past nine (she’s always up by 6:30, so this was way out of character). We spent the day lounging and doing nothing productive. I so very rarely rest – why is that? It was so good for my soul.

Little Miss took a bit of a tumble head-first into our ottoman and busted her lip, so I treated it with her favorite thing – a purple popsicle. It’s amazing how quickly a popsicle can help heal a minor injury when you’re almost two.
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Sunday evening we were back on our bicycles, enjoying a beautiful evening together. Wrenn has finally gotten brave enough to master her balance bike. We also hooked up a trailer to Mr. Right’s bike, as well as let her sit on dad’s bike rail (totally illegal, but childhood is about being dangerous every once in awhile). With the wind blowing her hair she would tilt her head back and scream “Weeeee!” as they rode together.

Oh, how I would love to live this weekend over and over and over.