May 29, 2015

Hipster Baby

     I just had to post these. I didn't do the best job at taking these shots, but there is a lot to think about when you sit a very active baby on a trunk. I was more concerned about catching him should he move than perfect focus. Photographing a baby is a lot more challenging than I thought! These were taken a month ago when he was 7 months. He's even more active now than he was then! #almostwalking
Thanks for the shirt Auntie Francesca!! Nerd is most definitely the new cool! :p

May 28, 2015

Florida with my mom.

     Florida has that humid, stuffy heat that like an enemy surrounds a person and leaves no room for escape. It is the kind of hug that lingers forever and becomes terribly uncomfortable and constricting. A slow death by suffocation if you will. In the midst of that heat lives my dear Grammy. A spunky, mischievous woman with eyes that twinkle and a wit like lightening. She likes to keep her house at 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It's the temperature that, if it were to speak, would boast of a woman who has fully acclimated to her climate. Anything below 85 requires long pants and a blanket. Too far above 85 and she gets slightly uncomfortable, but only slightly.
     She is part of a retirement community full of RV's and double wide trailers where an elect few reside. They have managed to break away from the cold of the North and settle, determined to live out their days under the sun. They drive around in fun (sometimes fancy) golf carts and attend weekly bingo nights at the community hall. They are a family of sorts. Everyone knows about everyone and everyone is concerned about everyone. They entertain various hobbies and every one of them has a story to tell.
     I think that's what I like best. I could sit and listen to all of that history and never tire. Stories upon stories of a different time and place, truly fascinating. I mean, being one of eleven children isn't something to snuff at. Living with your siblings, parents, and other family members in a two bedroom house? Just crazy. Learning to cook for a huge family because your mother wasn't keen on it and would trade you chores. For instance if you cooked dinner she would clean your room or do your laundry. Going to dances every Friday to meet guys. Stories upon stories.
     In the midst of the conversations we went to the pool. Caught some rays. Frequented her favorite restaurants and shops and walked around like royalty. "Oh don't you know? This is my daughter and my granddaughter and look! My first great-grand-baby!! Isn't he adorable?!!" We were the headline on the first page of the Sunday paper! Well, Tobias was, I felt like the Duchess of Cambridge when she gave birth to an heir to the throne of England (hehe). . . and that's how my mom and I spent our last week in March on her spring break. Together, with my sweet baby Tobias and my dear Grammy. Eight hours drive from Greenville, South Carolina and four hours flight from Xenia, Ohio, down in hot, sunny, Brooksville, Florida.

May 27, 2015

Couser Family Retreat 2015

     I had been looking forward to this weekend for a couple of months. It was highly anticipated and planned for and I was determined that nothing could ruin it. I have to say, most of the time, my expectations are so unrealistic that it inevitably leads to disappointment of the worst kind; but for whatever reason this weekend met my expectations and greatly exceeded them. This left me both extremely happy and wishing it could have lasted just a few days longer. . . Maybe next year!
     It all started when Gray and I began pushing for a scheduled family vacation. We wanted something we could plan on, a time that would happen annually apart from the major holidays. Currently I am the only Couser girl not living thirty or so minutes from home and as a result I can feel somewhat forgotten. A lot of life happens and that's especially apparent when you aren't a part of it. Thankfully my parents jumped on the idea and found a resort cabin of sorts in Cumberland, Kentucky. A good halfway point. So on this past Friday, after work, Gray and I loaded up the VW Passat with all our bags and Tobias and headed North. Not a direction most Southerners go (which totally worked to our advantage on the return journey!).
     We spent Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning with my parents, my three sisters and one of my sisters boyfriend. We explored the local scenery, took a hike where we saw Cumberland Falls and Eagle Falls and partook in the local beach scene at Lake Lure. The rest of the time we ate some amazing grub, celebrated birthdays, played lots of games, laughed till our bellies hurt, did morning devotionals, roasted marshmallows, and talked about life. It was so refreshing and truly fed my soul. There is nothing like family. I will forever cherish the memories we made this weekend!
Dan and Victoria were in charge of the pancakes on Saturday morning.
Tobias enjoyed several unconventional toys when he wasn't being snuggled by Mimi or Aunt Francesca.
 Breakfast together followed by our devotional in Colossians might have been my favorite thing!
This kid got a lot of love.
He was supposed to be reading about baby animals, not looking at me :D.
We celebrated five birthdays all told. Dad, Dan and Dominique were the first night and me and Francesca were the second night. 
My cakes were scrumptious. Strawberry with cream cheese frosting. Soooo good!
I love this girl. So wished she lived closer. . . not the most flattering pic, no makeup and all, but the weekend was all about relaxation and comfort we only got dressed up for the family pics!
And now for the family pictures. We used a makeshift tripod using two stools. Got to hand it to my dad, that was pretty inventive and worked perfectly. I need to add tripod to the list of things I bring next year ;).
Not naming any names, Grayson (cough, cough), but someone was a little too excited about the silly picture!
This one is hands down my favorite!!
The original girls! Dominique-18, Victoria-21, Me-24, Francesca-22
 Ty looks pretty unsure here. . .
 But he ended up accepting it, hehe.
Love both my big family and my little family. Is it next year yet?

Mar 25, 2015

Sleep is crucial.

     The last two weeks have been hard. Maybe the hardest yet. Two adults and a child who are sleep deprived, up countless times at night, and fussy every waking hour do not a happy family make. I finally reached the end of my fuse. I caved and bought a sleep training book and I talked to my mom and several of my mom friends. I listened to advice, stories of what worked and what failed, assurance that this time would pass; consolidating and stashing snippets here and there of things I would use, encouragement I would call upon in those rough moments and then we did it. We tried a method and stuck too it, even when Gray couldn't handle it I stepped in and vice versa. 
     Since Sunday night, the babe has slept from 7:30ish to 4/4:30 when I feed him and put him back to bed until 7:30 in the morning. Can I just say, sleep is so crucial. For me and my family a happy baby means a happy mum and a happy dad. We definitely have some zzzzzz's to catch up on, but we are on the right track. The texts and conversations I've had from friends checking in, meant the world. There is definitely a light at the end of this tunnel and I have more confidence knowing that I can overcome tough parenting obstacles. These pictures were taken in the midst of getting back on track so he still has that tired stare going on in a couple of them, but I love the purpose they serve. What a great reminder of where we've been and where we never want to return, so help me!
     On a side note, he doesn't seem to be bothered by grass, something that, according to my mom, I hated. He is as curious as ever and everything, I mean EVERYTHING goes in his mouth. I am loving and hating this stage. His adventurous spirit is inspiring. Oh and the giggles and laughs and tired cuddles and those chunky baby feet and fat knees, gosh! I'm totally gushing, I'll stop. Six months on Friday. Man oh man.

Mar 23, 2015

Mum and Tobias

     It is so hard to get pictures of Tobias and I when I'm the photographer of the family. I have to be super intentional and almost always they are planned. Hopefully the home videos will show my "personality" because candid photos are a rare treat. Thankfully I am able to convince Gray to take photos every once in awhile, below is the product of one of those times. It is important to me that I am a part of the photos that my kids will look back on someday.