***I'm determined to catch up on cataloging our family's events this year. Be ready for outdated posts galore!



notice how they look at each other -
i'm enchanted with my life. 

things are far from perfect at the skinner household. my house isn't always spotless, i don't have dinner on the table when dan walks in the door, i lose my patience with the girls all day long and we have plenty of real life stresses and trials on top of all the little things that seem to go wrong.

but despite all those things, life is good (do i say that a lot?) and flying by and i'm trying to soak it all in.

today, after all of us snuggling in bed, we ate breakfast as a family which is a rare occurrence - scrambled eggs and bacon. (if you know me well, then you won't be surprised i had cold cereal instead. i don't do eggs). preschool was canceled so the girls did worksheets and colored pumpkins while watching little rascals so i could get ready for the day.  grace now sings, "you are so beautifuuullll, to meeee, can't you seeee?" thank you alfalfa!  its adorable. 

the girls and i had a visiting teaching lunch date and came home in time for them to have a picnic out in their new swing set.  i could hear laughing while i fixed their snack and i peeked out the window to see my two girls swinging back and forth on their tummies, just giggling hysterically.

back in AZ, madison used to tell people, "when we get to missouri i'm going to get a back yard, a dog, and a trampoline."  i figure a swing set is a fair trade (thank you g&g skinner!).  it's fun to see the girls running and playing and swinging outside and it feels good to make their dreams come true. 

this afternoon we're on the hunt for the cutest pair of little girl's glasses we can find - madison needs them.  then i'm off to mutual for the night and dan has the girls to himself.  our life is busy, and sometimes hectic, but oh so good.

i often find myself wondering why i feel so comfortable here in columbia, so far from "home" and everything familiar.  i haven't been homesick (yet) and am completely loving the adventure we're having so far.  i'm caught up in our life of moving from one thing to the next, having to depend on each other for everything, and the new and sometimes big responsibilities placed on our shoulders. 

i think being content comes down to knowing-
knowing we were meant to live where we are.  knowing we're working in the right direction as a family. knowing we're lucky to have two adorable and spunky little girls that are the biggest blessing i could ever have asked for.  knowing i have a husband who works so hard (even at 2 in the morning to finish a swing set) and provides everything we need as a family.

i know this is where we're supposed to be. 
we're fully invested in our lives here and i'm content.

*my glass of cold milk and homemade chocolate chip cookies help as well. :)


Time Is A Crazy Thing

grace turns 2 next week. next week! i honestly can't believe it. how has this happened? where has the time gone?  i swear we were just bringing her home from the hospital last month.  she's turned into a full-fledged, bustling little girl with a huge personality and enough sass and independence for someone twice her age.  she keeps us on our toes and makes me laugh on a daily basis.  she is sweet, tender, polite, and so much fun.

i can't stop thinking.
(beware this might be a jumbled mess.)
i was rearranging the girl's closet yesterday and found a little bin of things i tucked away from when madison was born = her little white shirt, the pink and blue striped cap, a tiny newborn diaper (how could she ever have been that little?), and the goggles she wore in the hospital for when she was in the bili light.  i showed her the treasures i kept to remind me of when she first joined our family and told her about when i held her for the first time. she was enthralled and recounted the rest of the story back to me - she loves it and has it memorized. i feel like madison came home from the hospital just last month also.

when i think about everything that has happened since i became a mom, i'm in awe.  i never expected how significantly i would be stretched and strengthened and in turn, grow.  i always knew all i wanted to be was a mom, but i didn't realize how complete it would make me feel.

i underestimated how much i would worry, how much work it would be, and how tired i would feel.  but i also underestimated the joy i would feel and how that makes everything else worth it.

when madison was still a newborn, just leaving the house was an ordeal.  planning around feedings and naps and loading the car seat and packing the diaper bag with 500 things "just in case" made play dates, let alone errands, a daunting task.  i used to think, how do people have more than one kid? how is there time in the day for everything that needs to happen?

fast forward to the present. last week consisted of a presidency meeting, mutual, teaching preschool, making cookies to deliver, a throwing up child for 48 hours, my first batch of homemade bread using wheat i ground myself, and a pediatric ophthalmology appt for madi.

this week makes me tired just thinking about it - missionaries and investigators over for dinner, dr's appt, discussion with investigator, bishopric meetings, lunch for visiting teaching, mutual, stake auxillary training, dan in st. louis for the weekend, ward party (just me and the girl's), teach on sunday.... this is without the regular things like cooking, cleaning, and sleeping. no wonder i feel behind.

sometimes i measure my success based on my to do list - what have i scratched off today? its easy to be caught up in all the things going on around us.  because of this, i'm finding it more and more necessary to make conscious choices to be available and engaged in what my family is doing.

i need to make to do lists that says things more like:
sit on the floor and read 10 books
make eggs in a nest with play-do
blow bubbles
make a fort
tell stories
have a picnic lunch

simple things make my girls the most happy and those are the easiest to do.

i need to do better because it seems like i'm running out of time. kindergarten feels just around the corner (ok, a little less than two years away, but still) and my baby will two. my girls are growing up right before my eyes.  i just want to push pause.

time is a crazy thing.


A Visit from M & M

  my mom and mark came to visit over labor day weekend and it was so much fun seeing them, showing them our city and getting some much needed help with our house.  we kept busy the whole weekend and i think they left a little worn out. hopefully we didn't scare them away for good. now for the pictures.

 we started with dinner at flat branch and then hit cosmo park on our way home. the girls loved showing off their favorite park. (the above slide shoots the girls off the end so madison is bracing herself in preparation :)

 racing down their favorite slides.

and climbing back up, over and over again.

we ventured over to the farmers market 2 minutes from our house...

 and picked up some groceries for a delicious dinner that night - fresh, homemade pasta, sauteed squash, zuccini, and onions with garden tomatoes, swiss cheese and herbs, artisan bread, and mini pies for dessert.
i would cook like that more often if all the fresh, homegrown ingredients didn't cost as much as eating at a nice restaurant.  it makes me excited to have a garden next year.

 on sat, mark helped dan with the 2-man post hole digger as they prepped for our new fence. more on that in a minute. i hated watching them use it and was glad they came out injury free.

i found these chairs on clearance at ace and they were perfect for the girls to watch all the action from.

 a trip to columbia wouldn't be complete without a carousel ride in the mall.

 shelter garden was beautiful and we actually couldn't have asked for better weather all weekend.  apparently september is a much better time to visit than july. sorry lindsay, we are learning!

tuckered out from church. (the girls love these dresses so much that i hide them after i do laundry.  otherwise, they ask to wear them every single day.  maybe it's because they're from g&g skinner?)

dan and mark dug all the holes and cemented the posts on saturday so they could put the actual fence up on monday.  they spent hours and hours on it and dan spent at least that much time on it before mark even came into town.  mark had some great tips and was such a good resource.  the fence looks professionally installed and it turned out very nice.  (finished pictures to come with the house reveal later.)

madison got an owie from 'working so hard'.  grace was concerned for her.

more of the fence.

madison gave me a demonstration of what mark and dan were doing.

we also hiked the devil's ice box trail and again enjoyed the beautiful weather.

we got so much accomplished and fit in so many things.  it was wonderful to have m&m come visit and we can't wait until they come back with the whole family for thanksgiving!


On This Lovely October Morning

i am loving...

sleeping in and snuggling with my girls.
waking up to dishes washed by a helpful husband.
princess pajamas and a makeshift derm textbook booster.
a breakfast of pre-cooked bacon, honey nut cheerios, and chocolate milk.
sweatshirts and the sound of the heater kicking in.
children's tylenol and puff's kleenex.
sesame street and PBS.
a whole day with no commitments.
and a To Do list that might get a few things crossed off.

**sometimes i get so caught up in trying to make sure i blog about the big things like trips and such that i don't make time to document the little things. 
all the small stuff is often what makes life the sweetest, don't you think?


Full-fledged Fall

 the chill in the air 
brilliant colors
leaves fluttering in the wind
and rustling on the ground
hot chocolate
sweatshirts (i wish they still fit)
and today it even drizzled.

i love love love the fall. 
how did i live without it the past 5 years?


Pick and Pick Plantation

one of our favorite things we've done here in MO was pick raspberries.  the pick and pick plantation was just a quick drive out of the city and it was a beautiful day.  the girls loved it. madison was so focused and grace probably ate her weight in raspberries.  no wonder they charge an arm and a leg for a pint of them- they probably figure you eat half of what you pick in the field.

i love how grace wears her hat on the side. she does it all on her own and won't let me touch it for anything!

"look at all the raspberries i picked."
"where'd all mine go?"

madison ended up trying a few.  they were tiny but super sweet.

dan showed the girls a jackpot of raspberries.

here's the goods! (i think grace's was empty :)

we'll be back next summer to try the asparagus, strawberries, and blackberries.


Oh, What Do You Do In The Summertime,

...when all the world is green?  
here's some of the random things WE did:  

rode the big wheel, went garage sale hunting, found this coffee table and sanded/painted it (finished product to be seen with our house reveal).

painted our toenails... or toes. and got bitten by bugs - grace seemed to get an unfair proportion.

wore crowns 24/7 because "we are princesses" and learned to keep my little ponies high out of sadie's reach.

discovered the wonderfulness of little mate's cove, the last day of the season.

you can bet we'll be there most of next summer, trying to escape the heat.

avoided being in pictures.

found cosmo, our favorite park by far. check out the big slides. most of the park isn't pictured.

raced down the awesomely long slides.

conquered a fear of the awesomely long slide.

sweat a whole bunch. (grace after 10 minutes in the humidity)

hugged and played and especially loved getting ride of the yellow living room walls.

Our First Official Visitor

my sister in-law, lindsay, was the first one to come visit us (in late july) and that just means she loves us the most. :) her ticket was booked before we even moved from az and it was something i was really looking forward to.  we picked her up in kansas city and i don't know who was more excited, me or the girls.  we had a busy five days and lindsay was our guinea pig as far as finding out what fun things there are to do here in MO. 

we hiked the devil's icebox trail at rock bridge park.  it was miserably hot and humid. 

looking down into "the devil's icebox". 
it's a stream that runs underground for miles and is open at times of the year for spelunking.  
it's pretty chilly down there and felt wonderful on such a warm day. 

they are sitting almost directly below the opening in the the picture above.

madison and dad.

lindsay braved the cave as well.  
i was the photographer and declined their invitation to join them. 
translation: i don't do caves.

 we headed downtown to shakespeare's pizza on friday night. it was absolutely packed and we won't be returning on a weekend anytime soon.  the best thing is the pizza dough they give the kids to play with while waiting for the food.  

a sunday stroll on the katy trail.
miserably hot and humid also.

ready for a walk in shelter gardens. 
new shoes from aunt lindsay.

miserably hot and humid, again. 
do you see a reoccurring theme here? :)

hanging out on the couch.
not pictured:
dinner at Flat Branch
lunch at panera x2
andy's custard x2
attended our ward
youth conference - lindsay had the girls all day long!
YW pres. meeting- once again, lindsay had the girls
carousel x3
shopped at the mall
played games
had a BBQ
and last but not least..

we celebrated lindsay's birthday!!

what beats getting woken up by your nieces, singing happy birthday, with candles in donuts? ok, maybe a lot of things but that the best we could do. we had waffles with homemade buttermilk syrup and i even splurged for some orange juice. i hope lindsay felt at least a little special that day even though we had to say goodbye and she traveled home.  we had a wonderful few days and we can't wait to have her come visit again in december! 

we love you lindsay!