Wonderful Life

By Natalie

IMG_6584What happened to that little Grant, nestled comfortably on my shoulder? We’d walk to the end of the driveway wrapped with one of his cozy blankets to shield us from the cold. He’d just begun his cooing, and his giggles. He’d just begun developing his pallete for baby purees, and rolling over toward his light up toys.

Then he started crawling toward me as I ate my lunch on the floor. He started asking for more of this, and some more of that, in his sweet baby signs.

He pushes both feet together to jump down every step he comes across, because walking down steps one by one is for the boring. I’ll go out of my way to let him step onto the curbs when we’re running errands, just so he can jump off.


Now, I’m standing at the end of the driveway with him in my arms. He’s just woken up from his nap, and is happy to be held face to face with me. He tucks one arm in, and points to my mouth with the other. “Mou” He says. I respond with “Yes, Natalie’s mouth.”

He points to a car whizzing by, and I say, “Yup that’s a red car.” Most of my week consists of stating the complete obvious. Sure, sometimes I do crave a bit of adult conversation, but for the most part it’s actually opened my eyes to the simplest pleasures in life.

Grant points towards a bird, hopping about in front of us, and excitedly squeals. “Berr!!” So I stop to notice the sweet little creature, and of course respond to Grant with a Tweet Tweet. The bird flys away, and I tell Grant all about how the bird must be going home to his nest, up in a tall, tall tree.

Grant looks around, and I say, “Where’s Caleb?”

He throws his arm out, palm face up, and gives me a puzzled look.

“He should be here soon, he’s coming home on the bus.”

Grant points down the road in the direction the bus comes from, and the second he hears that bus engine whirring, his face lights up, knowing his brother is home.

I set him down, and he runs back up to the house next to Caleb. I sit on the recliner to write a note about what we did that day. In walks Grant pushing a kiddie slide up toward the couch. He climbs up to the top, and his knees get bending. He’s popping up and down, full of excitement. Prepping for his jump.

I know what he’s doing. He’s seen his brothers do the same exact thing. Caleb and Ryder have been perfecting their spins, and flips onto the couch for years. They’re natural little daredevils, and you better believe Grant is ready to run with the pack.

Caleb runs over and sits on the couch. “Come on Grantsy, you can do it. Come on!” Caleb waves his hands for Grant, encouraging him to make the leap.

I make myself as small as possible, careful not to disrupt such a sweet moment shared between two brothers.. Grant makes the leap, and he doesn’t quite make it.. I wait a couple seconds to see his reaction. Caleb whispers “It’s ok Grantsy, it’s ok.” And Grant is right back up, brushing himself off, and already to the top of the slide to try again. This time he makes it. Caleb cheered, and squeezed his brother tight, and Grant’s face was absolutely priceless from his triumph. I wish I had more words to describe that moment, but I don’t. I wish I had more words to describe the feeling of watching children grow, and feeling like stages last forever, until they’re over, and you wonder why you ever blinked. But there isn’t a way to describe those things. Because they’re just feelings. And those are the very best things in life, I think. The moments that cannot be described.. The ones that you capture and set aside to live in your memory for good.. The ones that you can look back on, and think to yourself…

“Thank you God, for this wonderful life.”

Hey There Raleigh

By Natalie

Raleigh just so happens to sit right in between where we live now, and our hometown. We’d never visited the capitol of our new state before so we decided to spend the day and stay overnight on our way up to Fredericksburg recently. The only troubling thing about doing that was how nice it was to split the drive in half. I say every trip up to Fredericksburg deserves a stop in Raleigh.

We had a stinking ton of fun meandering around this city. Charlotte is modern and rustic and beautiful and sketchy all at once. Raleigh was so different. It was smaller than we imagined which made it quaint and full of character.

Right off the bat we tried some eastern Carolina barbecue at The Pit. You know it’s good when they can get away with a name like that.

Across the street we stopped in at Videri Chocolate Factory to sip on americanos and gobble up some decadent truffles.

When my sister asked what our plans were in Raleigh I told her, “Oh I don’t know, walk around and eat. We’re foodies if you haven’t been able to tell already.” That’s totally what we did. We stopped in some eclectic shops, and we ate. We don’t eat pricey truffles the size of nickels very often, but when in a chocolate factory, that’s what I always say.  

In between lunch and dinner we stopped in the museum of natural sciences. We got there an hour before they closed and had no idea how huge the place was, so naturally we went back the next morning to ensure we saw it all. Also, to check out that boa constrictor again. It was wrapped so snuggly around the branch in its habitat that Brandon was convinced it was fake.



Processed with Snapseed.

Brandon and I never really were great classroom learners. We like learning on our own terms. We’re do your own research, extract what’s important to you and throw out the fluff, tinker around with your own projects until you get it right visual kind of learners.

I once had a chemistry teacher who went blue in the face trying to teach me moles after school. It wasn’t clicking. The lightbulbs in my head were not even flickering. She repeated the logistics on and on, and could not understand why I wasn’t grasping the concept. All I saw were numbers on a paper. Once she started playing Mythbusters in the classroom I started getting interested. Not because we were watching a show in school, but because I desperately needed visual, experimental aide.

Get us in a museum with all that knowledge at our fingertips, where we can move along at our own pace and we’ll be the last to leave.

But seriously, we had to pry ourselves away that evening before they closed, like a couple of science geeks.

Processed with Snapseed.imageimage

Processed with Snapseed.image



When we thought we had eaten our hearts out we noticed our hotel had a snack bar. It was much too tempting to pass up, so we grabbed some goodies, and sat out on the lounge balcony to chat. I love these heart to hearts on trips. Whether it’s a week, a weekend, or even overnight we always make it a point to wrap up our stay with a genuine heart to heart. Brandon will tell me where he’s at, and I tell him where I’m at, we talk about our explorations, and then we talk about our future.

Face to face time is such important work in a marriage. We enjoy ours most with coffee at the kitchen table or on the couch. But having them on a trip where our eyes are opened to new possibilities is always a pleasant setting.

Processed with Snapseed.

Charlotte Visits

By Natalie

The Lawrence’s made it down for my birthday!! How sweet is that? We did alot of exploring around town and had some tasty Carolina BBQ. What more could you ask for?

imageimageimageSeriously she is a brunette Pebbles Flinstone in the flesh.

Processed with Snapseed.Processed with Snapseed.imageProcessed with Snapseed.Processed with Snapseed.Processed with Snapseed.imageimageimageimage

The Peters’ came out for a visit, so I could snuggle my little Maceo man. He loves to be entertained. He’ll coo, and smile, but he’ll make you work for it. That provides the best memories after all. He seeks connection, he’s not going to throw his affection out to just anybody willy nilly. This little boy is intentional.


My sister as a mom. It still gets me. Though you could never tell, she’s twelve years older than I am. For years I was her baby and now she has her very own.


Jenny B came for a visit, and we head over to the Needtobreathe, Matt Kearney, and John Mark McMillan concert. We nestled in the lawn, begging Brandon to go grab us some King of Pops.

Not too long ago we house sat Jenny’s home while she was on a missions trip for the summer. When she came home we were housemates for another few months before Brandon and I bought our house in Fredericksburg. Many nights Jenny and I  would sit on the couch together talking about our days. Some nights we’d decide we deserved ice cream, and we’d both give Brandon those pleading eyes. “Brandon!” We’d yell. “Whatcha up to? We’re in our jammies, could you pretty please be the best guy ever and get us some hot fudge sundaes?” That Brandon. You know he caved, and totally enabled us.

imageimageimageWe love our Jenny. She’s been there for us, before we were us. It’s always special to have that kind of old friend around. Jenny has poured an incredible amount of love into me. She’s prayed over me. Supported me in every stage since I was 16. She is essentially another big sister to look up to, and I love her for it.

Ready to schedule your next visit to see us yet??

Summer Break – A Debrief

By Natalie

imageCan I be transparent? It was a really hard summer this year. The boys had about three times my energy each. Even with the triple espressos I’d sometimes put in my coffee each morning. One shot of espresso for each boy. That’s how to do it.

I started out with grand plans of fun filled summer activities and games which were quickly thrown out the window in week 3. These boys wanted to tumble, wrestle, swim, climb, hop, yell, slide, and play their way through summer, not color and make construction paper olympic torches. It was a sacrifice for me. I’m good with it.


Sometimes they got along adorably together, and other times the sibling rivalry was unreal.

Sometimes we’d have really sweet moments, and the next they were destructive, loud, rule breaking little wild things.

The amount of boundaries that were tested this summer was no joke. We all had to have alot of patience with each other and take alot of deep breaths.


Once every other week this summer we’d meet up with Brandon and take the munchkins to Chick-fil-a together for lunch. We’d park at Brandon’s work and wait for him to come out. Caleb would shout from the back seat, “I see him, I see him, it’s Bandon! Yay!” And I could take a solid sigh of relief for an hour.

Brandon had a great reserve of energy to wrangle up the boys when my energy levels were depleting.


We went to the pool a ton which was just fine because they’re total water babies.


Nannying can only be as great as the parents that you nanny for. They’ll make or break your experience.

Two years ago I sat on the Coggins couch. Caleb was kicking a soccer ball around the house. Ryder was hiding behind the coffee table, and Grant was a tiny little 3 month old laying in Mandy’s arms. They asked me questions about my experience. They were in search of a nanny, and I was in search of a job. First impression, I had a good feeling about them. I thought they were such a cool family and I totally desired to be a part. I had one more interview with another family and told them I would get back to them. They respected that, but as I left Jacob still threw out there, “I’m pretty certain you’ll want to choose us.”

Look at that. He was right.

I met up with Brandon on his lunch break the next day. We parked on the street in front of a sandwich shop, and ran inside from the autumn rain. I told him how eager I was to work for the Coggins. I frantically checked my email, and lit up when I saw something from Mandy saying they’d love to have me as their nanny if I was able. That night I accepted and have been unable to tear myself away from the family that has so graciously let me in.

Jacob is most like the big brother I never had. From helping us move to poking fun at me when he came home one day to find me knitting at naptime.

When Mandy gets home she takes the time to meet my eyes, and ask how I am. All in the midst of the boys begging for that much needed mommy attention. That, and the snacks in her bag, definitely the snacks in her bag. She always catches me off guard, as I’m watching their interaction and usually in a daze, having only spoken to children all day.

I once burned my gums with a hot dinner and told her about it a couple days later when a painful sore began to develop and kept me from chewing on that side. She gave me a numbing gel and later asked how I felt. “This area is actually starting to feel tender,” I said, pointing under my jaw, “do you think that’s related?”
She looked to where I was pointing and said, “that’s your lymph node baby. It may be your body fighting an infection.”
She calls the boys baby. Surprisingly that was all the comfort I needed. One affectionate word that made me feel taken care of. Like a family member. Like one of my big sisters was standing there concerned for me.

One day Mandy even texted me that I seemed defeated the day before. She offered to have me drop the boys off during her lunch break, so I could get away for an hour. I went home and slept. The second I walked in and hit the couch my mind shut off. My ears rung with silence and my eyes quickly saw the backs of my eyelids.

imageConsistency with kids is ridiculously important.

If you care for kids all day and their parents are not consistent with the same rewards and consequences, your work is all for nothing. When consistency is lacking kids learn to make it through the day just until their parents come home and they can have their way. I’m so thankful that Jacob and Mandy are not that way. It benefits everyone involved when all parties are consistent.

While the boys may grow anxious toward the end of the day for Mommy and Daddy to come home it’s only because they legitimately miss them and are ready for their evening routine. The kiddos understand that I’m the one in charge and they’re good with it. They know that if Mommy and Daddy get a good report from me they’ll be praised. It makes our days smoother.
Caleb is totally aware of these end of the day reports. When he gets off the bus each day and gets inside he’ll point to Grant and say “Matalie, how was he today? Where’d you take him? Has he eaten a snack yet? Did he nap good?”
It’s pretty sweet what kids pick up on.


The ends of my days this summer left me sweaty, bruised from flailing legs not patient enough for shoe tying. I had chlorine filled frizzy hair and I was exhausted beyond words. When people would hear that they’d ask me how, and why I still did it. Why I didn’t find a new job. But this isn’t just a job to me anymore. This is family. The only answer I’d have for them was that the boys had amazing parents and if I seemed to have my hands full, my heart was even fuller.

Summer So Far

By Natalie


Hey guys, summer’s here.


Actually it’s been here for a couple weeks. I’m just beginning to get my bearings.


Because, as the lady from camp mentioned “Girlie, you got your hands full.”

Cue Caleb spinning, and giggling down the hall, Ryder close behind squealing as his backpack strings bounce behind. Grant picks up pace, and I pick up mine, until I have to actually jog, because they’re all now in a full on sprint toward the door.

imageSchool is out, which means this kiddo ↓ gets all the pool time he can dream of. But you better believe that come nap time, after the wet clothes are hung to dry for the next day, and the lunch dishes are put away, Caleb and I curl up together to read a book.

I read a couple chapters out of this Magic Tree House book during spring break just to see if he’d like it. Then, when Mommy came home he’d jump up and down excitedly talking about our book’s characters, Jack and Annie.

My sisters read with me when I was little, and always encouraged me to get lost in books. As an avid reader, Caleb’s receptiveness made my heart full.

I read a chapter a day, and just last week we finished it!

Proud nanny moment. 

Our first week was all adjustments, and rule testing, and swim suits, and snacks, and parks, and heat, and timeouts, and giggles. Rough days, and perfect days.

But now. I think we’ve finally jumped into the swing of things.

Ryder started  camp our second week of summer, which meant we were driving up to Davidson. Caleb, Grant and I killed a few hours each day, doing something different.

The last day we pulled up to camp Ryder said “Yay camp! See you later guys!”

Ryder loves some individualized attention. Camp meant he got just that, and by the end of the week he was all about it.

Monday, we packed our towels, and lunch, and laid out at Ramsey Creek Park’s new swimming beach.



Tuesday, we went for a stroll on downtown Davidson’s streets in search of a coffee shop I’d bookmarked on Yelp. I stepped out back with my mocha in hand, and Caleb asked if they could play on the playground. That’s right. Perfectly placed behind this coffee shop was this mini playground. I sat down on the brick steps and watched them play. Kept them entertained long enough for me to finish my coffee, and kill enough time until the mini golf place opened.
imageMini golf.. Boy that was an interesting adventure. We had sunscreen, shades, hats, and water… But man oh man that sun was beating down on us. Halfway through, the heat got the best of my charges.

“Caleb, remember what I said in the car?” I said as Caleb laid on the green in frustration.

“We’re just here to have fun. It’s ok if you don’t make it in the hole. And do you know what else? I’m proud of you for waiting patiently for others to play. But right now another family is waiting their turn, so you may not lay here, and block their way just because you are frustrated.”

He hops up, and I’m surprised as usual when my pep talk actually works. He plays a few more holes, and finally looks up at me and says “Ma-alie, I’m hot. I’m done.”

The sweat droplets chasing eachother down my temples told me that was just fine.

I grabbed Grant’s hand, and we veered off the course.

When we got to the top we returned our clubs, and said thank you.

But that red ball. Grant was not giving it up. He went boneless on me, refusing to be alright with the fact that I put away his ball. I picked him up so he could see it. The girl behind the window kept it open for us.

“Say buh-bye ball. We’re all done.”

G looked at me, then the ball. He waved at the ball, and we walked on.

Again… When they trust me enough to try what I’m offering them, it’s gold.


Wednesday, and Thursday we spent the day at Jetton Park.

Playgrounds, trail walks that lead to gazebos, and a lakeside lunch.

Does it get any better?imageimageYou are never too cool for your nanny. Let that be known.imageCaleb grabbed my phone, and snapped these sweet moments.

Then he said, “Aw send that one to mommy, she will lub it.”imageimage

Relaxing? At first, yes. Then it was all spitting into the cracks. Because, boys.

Also, Grant. Forever learning the tricks of the trade from his brothers. ↓

Oh me.imageimageimageimage

Lastly, this view from the volunteer parking lot on Sunday… Icing on the cake.image

Myrtle Beach & The Future

By Natalie

imageimageIsn’t it interesting how you make up these plans for your life, so certain that they’ll come to pass.. And years later you find yourself chuckling at those plans. Because you were a different person when you made them.

Brandon and I sat on the pier in Myrtle beach this past weekend after filling up on fresh seafood.

We took turns talking about our favorite memories together in our five years of marriage. Our wedding. Our honeymoon in the mountains. Our vacations. Our moves. Our growth. All of it.

We took some time to talk about our future too as we watched young kids splash around in the water. We had a plan for where we’d be at this mark, but it is so far off from what we ever imagined.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal journaling lately, leaving little to be shared here. But this is a safe place, so I’m just going to toss it out there.

I thought I’d be dying to get pregnant by this point. And part of me does feel that way, sure. I have a happy home, a dog who loves licking sticky fingers, and a supportive husband, why wouldn’t I feel the urge to expand our family?

But sometimes ya know.. I really don’t. If it happened tomorrow, I’d be happy. If it didn’t, I’d still be happy. Babies are scary right? God allots you the strength you need, and the patience to get through parenthood, which is incredible. But I’ll admit, after so many years it gets hard to imagine what it’ll actually be like.

I stayed with my sister last trip to Fredericksburg. My eyelids were growing heavy, and I was dying for sleep when I looked over, and saw Nem passed out beside me. I walked into the kitchen to clean up, and I saw my brother in law fast asleep on the couch. I squinted to see the time on the microwave, telling me it was close to midnight. I walked into the living room, and saw Maceo sleeping in his swing. This tiny little human rendering his whole family exausted. I got myself ready for bed, and was about to slip under the covers when my sister’s alarm on her phone went off. It was feeding time. AGAIN. My brother in law woke up as delirious as ever, and Nem came to, eyes tired. We spent another few hours awake, caring for Maceo, and watching Caribbean Life on HGTV.

People say you’re never ready, and I believe that’s certainly true. It sort of seems like you get convinced to do it, then once you tell everyone how hard it is, they give you this knowing nod.

But here’s the twist. I don’t doubt we are in a place where we’re ready. Nannying for one has taught me a lot. I realized very quickly that it’s better to get out of the house for all our sanity, even if the kiddos scream and cry. I know what it’s like to deal with temper tantrums in Target, cleaning up vomit, getting sneezed on, coughed on, and prepping food for hungry bellies while my own hunger pain is eating away at me.

My mom in law tells me it’s different with your own. That there is nothing like having your own children. I cling to that truth. I know that when we have our own it will be hard, and beautiful, and fun, and frustrating, and tiresome, but everything I ever imagined.

imageTo be honest, halfway through writing this I felt like deleting it. Because what if I feel differently tomorrow? Or next week? Or just a couple months from now? I’ve decided that’s ok. It’s ok to feel like today I want to travel more. See more mountains, more beaches, more of the world. Spend more quality time with my husband, and focus on becoming a better me.imageTomorrow I can throw that all out the window, and say let’s start a family. Because no matter when you have kids you will be making a sacrifice. There’s no shame in cutting off deadlines, and living in abandonment of the path God has you on. It doesn’t mean that I can’t plan, it just means that it’s ok for plans to change. It’s ok to uproot, and move towards whatever feels right for us at the moment. Life is surprisingly much smoother that way..

And Nana Poe says no! More grand babies! I do hate leaving you hanging like this. One day Mom, I promise. One day. image


By Natalie

imageMan goodbyes are the hardest.
I took the train up to Fredericksburg this past weekend for my sister’s baby shower. Friday morning Brandon dropped me off at the train station. When I finally realized which line I was supposed to be in it was already half gone. I pointed and said to B “This is me.” And he smiled and said “K. Have fun. Bye. Love you.” There was only time for a quick goodbye kiss, and I headed for the platform.
My aunt waited to pick me up in Fredericksburg, and took me straight home to feed me the food of my childhood. I settled in, just as if I had never left.
Nem’s shower was a sea of faces to catch up with. A place full of people who have met my sister somewhere along the way, and ecstatic to be celebrating the baby she and Sean are expecting. After saying our until next times to the last of the guests, I hopped in the back seat of the Lawrence’s car. I looked over as I buckled my seatbelt, and Norah turned her head toward me, and smiled.
“Oh she loves it when someone rides back there with her.” Nadir said.
We get to the Lawrence’s and I snuggle in there. Nadir and I catch up, and we laugh together at reruns of our favorite sitcom. Norah downed a bottle, and nuzzled right into me when she finished. Being the second center of attention at a party is exhausting for a little one.imageThe next morning I walked into Norah’s room to get her up. I peeked into her crib, and she lay there peacefully.
“Good morning Norah.” I said as I brushed my fingertips down her arm. She wriggled, and stretched her arm up, resting the back of her forearm on her forehead.
“You are just a snoozer.” I said as I reached my hands under her arms, and pulled her close. She blinked her eyes open to meet my gaze.
“Hi, sweet pea.”
I laid her on the changing table to get her in a fresh diaper. She smiled at me, and stretched her legs. “Yea are you in a good mood today?”
I took a second to admire her, since she is growing so fast, and I thought about little Grant. How one day I was gently settling him into his bassinet, and now I find myself walking into the nursery of a bouncing toddler in his crib. The two of us laughing, as I swoosh him out.
I get Norah ready and Nadir drives me to meet up with the Poes. I kissed Norah goodbye, and gave my sister a grateful hug. Not allowing it to last too long, cause if it did, we’d both be in tears.
I spent Sunday morning with my in laws, which seems too detached of a word. They’re Mom. They’re Dad, and Laura. Ryan, Ashley and my wild nephews Mason and Everett, still in the peak of their childhood.
Their home, it feels like home, and I love being back there.
Mom, Dad, and Laura took me to the train station, and waited on the platform with me. The train pulled in, and the hugs were too short. I found my seat, threw my suitcase up top, and sat. I looked out the window, and saw Mom and Laura walking up and down the length of the car I stepped into, looking for me. I knocked on the window, and then noticed the girl in front of me was asleep, resting her head on the window. I waved, but they didn’t see me. I watched them still searching, as the train pulled away, and my heart sank. “Goodbye.” I said to myself as I watched Fredericksburg slip away into the trees.

Leaving Fredericksburg is like leaving home. But when the train pulled into Charlotte I felt at home too. I love it here. I love our life here. I want to build a future here. Goodbyes will always be difficult. But without goodbyes there’s no anxious and excited hellos. As easy as it would be to give into the sadness of a goodbye, I must remember the path that God has laid for us, and the direction he is leading us. That makes the goodbyes easier, because in fact they’re not goodbyes at all. They’re simply a see you soon. 

Local Library

By Natalie

Since for the past year I’ve been in the habit of taking Grant to story time at the Library, I’ve fallen in love with just how wonderful a place full of stories can be.

The set up at our library has the children’s area, and books on hold downstairs. Fiction, and nonfiction rest upstairs with dozens of tables and chairs strewn along the length of the windows.

imageTypically I’ll search for the book I’m ready to dive into next at home, and place it on hold. Then I’m able to walk in with G, grab my book, and lead him to the little house made up of storybooks for kids. He steps inside the little house with a couple other tots, all pulling corduroy, and other plush storybook characters out of a basket that sits in the corner.

He usually steps out to present his findings to me, smiling and grunting. He excitedly stumbles back into the little house to see what else he can discover, while I stand there alongside 20 other moms, and nannies watching our littles play.

If you have a little, infant to toddler, and you’re not in the habit of going to story time I have to tell you truthfully that you are missing out. The first time I went Ryder was almost 3, and Grant was 4 months. Little toddler girls ran up to the car seat when I grabbed a bottle to feed Grant, and they could not stop uttering the word Bae-Bee when I placed him on my shoulder to burp him.

These days when we go to story time Grant is happy to get up and run into the middle of the room with the other kiddos while a librarian reads to them. He’ll venture out just far enough to be on the other side of the circle, standing to stare at each woman sitting in front of him until he comes across my face, and senses the recognition. I smile, and say “Hey.” In hushed tone, and he runs to my lap, barreling into me. He’ll sit like that for just a moment until he gets settled, and then he’s right back up to repeat it all over again. It never gets old to see his face light up when he spots me in a room full of other women and children. My heart melts every time he joins me for the next song.imageClap your hands *Clap-Clap* Clap your hands *Clap-Clap* Everybody clap your hands *Clap-Clap* Clap your hands, clap your hands, clap your hands, clap your hands, everybody clap your hands. *Clap-Clap*

And then we go into Stomp your feet *Stomp-Stomp* Stomp your feet *Stomp-Stomp* and G really gets into it. Hinging at his knees on the edge of my lap to stomp his heels on the floor.

On the days when I forgot to place a book on hold, but am still yearning for a good read I head up the stairs with Grant in my arms. At the bend in the stairs he points to a painted picture on the wall. “Uhhhah” he moans. “Yes I know Grantsy, it’s a ship in the ocean.” And we stand there for a minute gazing at the blueish watercolor.

Once we hit the top of the steps it’s deadly quiet. I step into an aisle of nonfiction, and G continues his pointing, and “Uhhah” sounds. The area echoed like you would not believe. “I see that book.” I whisper.

He motions toward the window, and points to the trees outside. Making some more babble, when an older woman rounded the corner into our view.

“Well hello.” She whispers. “You must be the one I heard, huh?”

G smiles, and rests his head on my shoulder bashfully.

“Yes, you’re a sweet boy huh?” She smiles, and moves on, and G picks his head up to watch her go.

I snag a book on parenting, or the development of babies, and we make our way downstairs to check out. G sits up on the counter while I scan the books giving my arm a break. I hum our story time tunes as I set him in his car seat and we head back home. He giggles as he looks out the window, kicking his legs in approval of our outing.

The Nip in the Air

By Natalie

I walked into the Harris Teeter this morning to grab a bag of tortilla chips which I forgot on my original grocery shop yesterday. I’ve planned to make a dairy free Mexican layer dip this week, which I have been oddly craving for quite some time, and finally decided that the only way I’d be able to have it dairy free would be if I made it myself. This layer dip has been on my mind for so long, and I remembered every ingredient for it, except for the tortilla chips! Can you believe that?

I grabbed a couple bushels of firewood on my way out since the chilly air has finally made its way here. And we’ll hopefully be enjoying a fire this very night.

imageWe’re obsessed with our fireplace around here, didn’t you know? And when I say we I mean Brandon is obsessed with creating them, I am mesmerized, and cling to the warmth of them, and Bingley will plop very nearly too close the second those flames pop up. I think he will be devastated if our next place doesn’t have a fire. To be honest it’s another thing to set at the top of our priority list! Which is really the beauty of renting, because we have lived in such different spaces we’ve learned what functions well, and what to avoid.

Speaking of… Chilly weather.. Chilly weather, and three boys is possibly the most stressful mix ever. Did you know? Now that the weather has gotten cold enough for the necessity of coats, shoes, and hats there has been quite the wrangling going on at the Coggins back door. I’m pretty sad to say goodbye to barefoot, and swim shorts. image

I’ve got two socks, and one shoe on Ryder. One sock on Caleb that isn’t fit quite right, and I’m battling with him to put a coat on. Grant is totally aware now of the fact that putting shoes on means we’re going out, so he reaches for the doorknob like a trapped prisoner.

“Why do we have to wear coats?” Caleb says.

“Because it’s cold outside, and I want you to be warm.”

“Why is it cold?”

“Because it’s winter now.”

“Why is it winter?”

“Because the season changed.” (Mind you, I’m holding this conversation yelling over Bailey’s whining, and shrill barks. You might ask, “Why don’t you just let Bailey out while you get them ready Natalie?” To which I’d answer, “Because God forbid I did, then Grant would crumple to the floor in anger that I didn’t let him out barefoot, and coatless too.” It’s really a matter of preference.)

Caleb continues, while I pull a hoodie over a frustrated Ryder. He gets a particular sort of upset when you put a hoodie on him instead of a coat. Like you’ve just betrayed him by dressing him in something he cannot take off. But that is in fact why we put it on him, because otherwise he’d be frolicking in the nip shirtless!

“Why did the seasons change Matalie?”

“Alright Caleb, that’s enough questions, put this on.” I hand him a jacket, and help him with the zipper.

By this point Ryder is ready, Grant’s got shoes on, Caleb has a coat on, but insisted on changing his shoes. Pullover, pullover, where is Grant’s pullover? I grab it off the couch, and slide it over his head to which he always giggles, and that helps relieve the commotion a bit.

Somehow I’m always the last to put my shoes on, but I’m not silly enough to wear anything that takes more than a slip onto my feet when I’m with them. So I’m ready quickly, and open the door. The boys, and Bailey all trample past one another, spilling outside like a waterfall.

Of course, on a good day, I get each of them ready individually, in secret, before Bailey even hears anyone utter the words Outside.



DIY: Christmas Bunting

By Natalie


Here’s what you’ll need…

  • 2-3 feet of Fabric (Depending on how long you want your bunting to be.)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Pinking Shears
  • Double Fold Bias Tape
  • Matching Thread
  • Pencil
  • Iron
  • Stencil
  • Sewing Machine

I have been sewing for about three years, and I still make some serious rookie mistakes. Since I purchased pinking shears, buntings have been my favorite easy sewing project. I found this fabric, and thought I was being conscious of getting only as much as I needed, only to find out that once I cut out my triangles, half of them would reveal upside down christmas trees! Apparently I’d never used a print that it mattered which way I cut. Rookie mistakes.


Sometimes even the easiest of DIYs can turn out to be a headache. Don’t fret! You are not alone.

I made a stencil a while back out of a piece of cardstock, and would highly recommend doing so, as it makes your tracing much quicker. I simply used a straight edge to measure out how large of a triangle I wanted, and cut my piece of cardstock.

Once you’ve made a stencil lay it on the back of your fabric and trace away. (This is where I bring the ironing board into the living room, and start a netflix show)

When you’ve finished tracing, use your pinking shears to cut the triangles out. Pinking shears keep your fabric from fraying. Which is why you won’t need to sew a front and back piece together for this type of bunting. At some point I’m sure the fabric cut with the shears would fray after a little wear and tear, but since buntings are merely decorative, and I swap them out through the seasons, I’ve never felt the need to make them double sided. It should take a long time for them to actually start fraying.

imageOnce you’ve cut out your triangles you’ll want to iron out any wrinkles or folds before you place them in the double fold bias tape. Bias tape can be found in most craft stores near the threads, zippers, and other bindings. Just a tip I could have used when I found myself walking up and down the ribbon aisle looking for whatever that stinking bias tape was.


Pin your work together like so, and carefully carry it over to your sewing machine.


I like to use a zig zag stitch, to match the look of the cut outs, and just because I feel like it holds better.


Keep your pin cushion close to discard each pin as you go. You may need to readjust as you go, and be sure to keep your cut outs pushed all the way up to the bias tape fold.

Once you’ve finished your work should look something like this↓image

Hang it up, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!


1 2 3 13