Sunday, May 29, 2011

big brother extraordinaire

I've been in a reminiscent sort of mood lately - I recently took this picture of Dylan pushing Mady around the neighborhood and then remembered a similar shot I took of Ella and him several summers ago.

Dylan is such a great big brother. Yes, he bugs his sisters but mostly he takes great care of them - he saves half of his birthday treats from school to share with Ella when he gets off the bus. He helps Mady get her shoes on so she can get outside (her favorite!) just a little bit faster. And he is always eager to help out by giving his sisters a push in the stroller.

He just needs frequent reminders NOT to drive the stroller like a race car ;)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

front closet + paper piles clean-up

It's Memorial Day weekend and I finally crossed a couple of items off my organizational to do list: the front closet and our paper files piles.

We have three coat closets in this house (no mudroom to speak of but many, many coat closets). We use one for the kids crafts/games, one for coats (crazy!) and one as a catch-all for just about everything else - winter coats, the vacuum, scrapbook supplies, a filing cabinet, extra shoes, small electronics, etc. Basically it was a giant mess and I dreaded opening the door.

{Please excuse the lack of a before picture - trust me, it was bad}


I have been gathering ideas from organizing blogs these past few months, trying to figure out the best system for us. (The post that first got me thinking: this one from Young House Love. The post that really got me moving: this series from IHeart Organizing.)

Since the only coats I need to store in here are kid's coats, I figured it would be OK to add a small bookshelf ($20 at Target). Before everything just sat on the ground in a big pile which was not helpful. This closet now neatly holds everything we need it to: paperwork, scrapbook supplies, stationary, exercise equipment, electronics, a cooler, and the vacuum. It's still a catch-all but at least it's an organized catch-all (thank you, Mr. Label Maker).

For the paper portion of the closet, I borrowed a lot from this post about organizing files in binders instead of filing cabinets. I couldn't resist these cool binders from Target and the file boxes (for papers that are waiting to be filed) are from Ikea (can you say cheap?!) 

I also made a big effort to go paperless a few months ago. As I was sorting through our mess of papers it was amazing to me how little we actually needed to save - most of the information is available on-line if we ever needed to access it.

I think I am sold on this binder method - it just seems easier to pull one of these off the shelf instead of looking through a filing cabinet and they take up a lot less space. For now, I still have a file box sitting on the floor for some of the items we rarely need to get at and all our old tax returns are in a black box sitting on the shelf. {Next up on my organizational to do list: a recipe binder as featured here - original credit goes to H-ville mom/blogger Kamarah).

The papers that I need day-to-day easy access to I keep in these folders on my kitchen counter. Just the simple task of labeling some file folders (that I already had) has made things just a tad bit less stressful around here.

Long story short, this is working for us - there's a place for everything, we're no longer buried in paper, and I actually enjoy opening this closet door. 

Happy long weekend! 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

preschool, class of '11

So, so proud of our little preschool graduate. I can't believe she's done with this phase already and that I won't be picking a child up from Maple Tree Preschool next year (for the first time in three years).

Daddy and her celebrated this morning with a special Daddy-Daughter breakfast at the Rainbow Grill before school. Big Brother is proud of her too :)

Ella and her buddy Xavier before the graduation ceremony.

A little shy on stage but she still sang her heart out (compared to her brother two years ago who practically fell asleep up there).

Construction paper graduation hats + diplomas = adorable.

A preschool favorite: Every day is a victory!

Our little Ella Bella, moving on up!


When we looked at this picture I took of Mady yesterday, Matt and I were both struck by how much she looks like Ella. I remembered taking a picture of Ella around the same age (Ella was closer to two, Mady is 18 months) on the same spot on the counter, so I dug it up to compare.

Below is proof our blue-eyed blondie and our brown-eyed girl came from the same gene pool (although I do have people tell me from time to time that they look like each other).

For whatever reason (serious spunk?) both pictures are slightly blurry (and please ignore Mady's black eye) - but they have the same goofy grin, cute little chin, scrunched up eyes, and fuzzy mullet hairdo.

Sisters. Wonders never cease.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Baseball

We are blessed to be part of a wonderful community of people that we share not only Sunday mornings with but also lots of time in between as we journey through life together. We spent the first part of this beautiful Sunday picnicking and baseball-ing with some of our favorite families. 

17 kids seven and under (yes, you read that right) and I think we held it together and even had some fun.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Four Year Blog-versary!

What a week for anniversaries - May 21, 2007 - the day I started this blog. Four years of pictures, milestones, and stories that might not mean much to any of you, but they are priceless to me. I love that I was able to capture some big and small moments in our family's life and I love having a (small) outlet for my creative juices.

A look's where we were at four years ago...

Matt and I out for a rare (at that point in our lives) date night downtown
in a photo that didn't make the cut earlier this week.

Still living in our first home (and just about to put it on the market).

Baby Ella was just starting to enjoy life - 
we had just survived the colic phase
and she was turning into a perfectly happy little girl.

Adjusting to life as a family of four.

Sometimes I forgot about these crazy early days 
of having two little ones only two years apart 
(that might not seem close together to some but my brother 
and I are 4 1/2 years apart so I never imagined having my kids so close together).

Our little man, 2 1/2 years old.
So cute, I kind of want to squeeze his cheeks.

Anyone out there been following us since the beginning?
(I wish I had a prize for you, but how about a big THANK YOU for sticking around!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

the first decade {together}

2 people. 10 years.

A lot can happen in 10 years.

3,650 days.

There are the highlight reel worthy events: countless vacations, two moving days to new homes, three very special birth-days for three very special kids.

Ten Ludington Mackers.

And then there are the things that don't quite make the scrapbook but are still notable: six jobs (three for each of us). 11 cars...and counting...

It's so simple to break down 10 years in some ways, so hard to capture it all in other ways. There is so much that lies just below the, grief, laughter, tears...the big ups, the big downs...

...and then there is the ordinary. How many plain old ordinary days (some of my favorite kinds of days, mind you) make up those 10 years?

When I look back at this last 10 years I see the big stuff - the events that would make the highlight reel - but I also see a lot of the every day...

waking up every morning to a husband who loves me, who faithfully provides for our family day after day, who unloads the dishwasher in the mornings while he gets the kids breakfast, who still makes me laugh like he first did 14 years ago.

When I look ahead I see our kids growing up, our marriage growing stronger, more potential ups and more potential downs...and a lot more every day...

Oh, and I see the house on the lake with the two rocking chairs on the front porch (no more, no less...those chairs are just for us).

And I am grateful. Grateful for 10 years together, grateful for the hope of many more years together. Grateful that my kids have such a wonderful daddy. Grateful that I have such an amazing partner for life (our little joke). Grateful that we have countless little our little jokes.

And really, currently, grateful that we have a week long kid-free tropical trip planned next month.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

well, aren't we aging well...

Tomorrow is our 10 year wedding anniversary and in honor of the milestone, I thought it would be fun to pull pictures out for each year we have been married. Only the most flattering shots were considered (much harder to find during the pregnancy/post-pregnancy years!)

We married young - we were both 21 when we walked down the aisle - and we have truly grown up together these past ten years. 

It was a fun walk down memory lane looking back at these years together. It was also eye-opening to find how few pictures we have just the two of us together, especially since the babies started showing up. Note to self: take more pictures together in the decades to come!

June 2000
Please excuse the pre-digital-camera-era quality on these first few shots.

Year One
Bahamas | March 2002

Year Two
Spring Grove Park | September 2002

Year Three
Spring Lake | June 2003

Year Four
Christmas | December 2004

Year Five*
Lion's Game | October 2005
*exception to the Only The Most Flattering Shots Were Considered. 
Sorry, Matt, that picture still makes me laugh. 

Year Six
WPHS Reunion | August 2007

Year Seven
Melting Pot | June 2008

Year Eight
Bahamas | January 2009

Year Nine
Chicago | August 2009

 Year Ten
Chicago | September 2010

Here's hoping for timeless style and good hair in the decades to come. 

Oh, and many more years of wedded bliss!

Happy anniversary, Hubby! I love you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

third one's a charm

I have this theory about kids - it goes something like this: If you have more than one, they will end up getting you one way or another. (Or It Doesn't Matter How Many Kids You Have, You Still Haven't Seen One Like This.)

For example, our first child, Dylan, was quite honestly The World's Easiest Baby. I don't even have one single memory of him crying. Really.

Ella, on the other hand, came out screaming and didn't stop until she was four months old and we took a trip to the Bahamas (coincidence or was she just tired of her first Michigan winter??)

And Mady was a perfectly content little long as you (and by that I mean me) were holding her all...the...time, making her our clingiest cuddliest baby of the three.

Another example: Dylan loved his pacifier, meaning he was a quiet content little guy but we had to go through the ditch-the-paci stage at 2 1/2. Ella refused a pacifier (see screaming, above) and learned to "self soothe" (HA!)

Mady took a pacifier for the first few months and then just lost interest and I thought "finally! I figured it out! we got through the first few months of newborn crying but now she's done and we don't have to worry about making up a Pacifier Fairy later!"

And then she stuck her thumb in her mouth. Game over. Kids win again.

I asked Mindy to take some 18 month pictures of our little Mady Mae. She's at a really fun stage but she also never stops moving which means it was time to call in a professional (I've always loved Mindy's work since day one and it's fun to catch up and chat while she snaps pictures too). Mindy did an amazing job as usual - I think these shots captured Mady perfectly.

In some ways, Mady as child #3 reminds us of babies we have seen before - she looks like her brother, devours ham like her sister, and treasures her blankey like they both do. But in other ways she brings a whole new set of qualities and quirks to the table.

She is our screamer, our wall scribbler, our cell phone snatcher, our uh-uh-uh (knows how to get what she wants) non-talker. 

She loves to walk anywhere and everywhere, especially outside.

(Dylan was happy to ride in the stroller until about age 4 when I finally evicted him).

She splashes in the toilet and likes to (ahem) fill her toy plastic cup in the toilet, also a new trick.

She bangs on the cupboard when she's hungry, bangs on the door when she wants to go outside.

(So much spunk in this tiny little person.)

She is our Craisin-loving, cheezy-grin-smiling, evil-laugh-laughing, fuzzy-hair-blowing, don't-box-me-in



Just a warning, parents: whatever phases you think you have avoided with your first, second or third child...whatever "my child will never do that" feelings you may have...if you continue on in this parenting journey and go for one (or two or three) more...they will get you every time.

Our #3. Our grand finale. She's giving us a run for our money.

And we couldn't be more thrilled.
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