on growing girls

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 last weekend the girls and i headed out on our own for a little photo shoot inspired by the clothing my little jules sent us – no boys allowed!

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 we have a nearby park that has a great big playground and a huge grassy field, but the best part is along the (now dry) creek, with the trail ways and bridges.

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 the best part about this photo shoot was that the girls planned out all the shots themselves.  i just let them play and pose.  it was really fun for me to not only see their personalities come through the pictures, but to also be surprised by them.  just when i think i know them best, they surprise me with serious expressions or grown-up poses.

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 without telling them to smile or not, they kept doing these sweet gentle looks, small smiles and serious eyes.

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 this girl has been my hardest child to figure out yet.  just a year ago we used to battle daily.  our personalities are just so similar and that unfortunately pushed us apart rather than bound us together.

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 but this last year has been full of maturity, i think for the both of us!  i used to think that as a parent i would have to stick to my guns and stay consistent.  in ways, thats true, but i’ve learned that i also need to be willing to change and adjust and maybe not be so hard- headed about not so important issues.

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now i get more snuggles and affection from lily than any of the other kids!  she seems to be more connected with me than ever and honestly, i just can’t get enough of it.  just a year ago i thought that we’d never have the bond i longed for.  i love how motherhood can surprise me!

lily has a heart of service for our family, whether its cooking for us all, packing lunches for school, or helping her brother pick out his clothes.  she gets joy out of helping others.

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 and these 2 together?  they are hot or cold.  why are siblings like this?!  thankfully, this day was filled with sugary sweetness between the 2 of them.

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 so.  i have an 11-year old now.  ohmygoshhowdidthathappen?  and i am so blessed because she is wonderful.  like really truly wonderful.  she has a heart for others and creativity that doesn’t quit.  you can hear her belly laugh from far away and it is absolutely contagious!

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 but 11 is coming with its challenges.  not that we’re being challenged, but the decisions are challenging.  and the changes are challenging.

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 some of these challenges were apparent to me while i was choosing an outfit  from my little jules for gracie.  in every way, i want her to still be a little girl.  i want her to stay young to keep her from the harder things growing up brings.  i want her to stay tiny and have friendships that don’t hurt.

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so what does this have to do with ordering clothes?  i wanted to get all the cute ruffly skirts and tops with layers and bows.  all the things that make her look like a little girl.

but we recently had a talk about her not being a little girl anymore.  actually, she had to inform me of that change.  because honestly, i couldn’t see it.  i could only see her as a little girl who was trying to be bigger than i was ready for her to be.  but really, she already is a bigger girl.  a young lady.  a young lady that i was holding back from the stage God has designed for her to be in.  to explore independence a bit more and to gently test boundaries a bit more to see where she fits now.

mothering is hard, but i’m seeing now that growing up can be, too.  and i don’t want it to be hard, i want it to be wonderful.

gracie’s outfit represents that change to me.  its not a little girl outfit.  she looks older in it, but not like a teenager.  the butterfly sleeves have a sweet young look, but the skirt looks like a big girl skirt.

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 i want these 2 very different personalities to be each others’ favorites.  i want their love for each other to be stronger than any other friendship they have.

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 i want their differences to draw them together, to teach them to rely on each other.

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  as one moves into a new stage and leaves the other behind, i don’t want the connection to be lost, but strengthened.

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 i have been saying lately how fun it is to have big kids!  emily just wrote a beautiful, encouraging post about this.

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 going on outings is so much more fun, so much less stress.  we can go to the park and i can sit and watch them, rather than hover by their side.  we can go to the beach and i can enjoy them playing in the water rather than panic about their getting swept up by a wave.  now when that happens i get to watch them tumble, pop up, and laugh at themselves!

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 a great part of having a sister just 2 1/2 years apart form you?  sharing clothes!  gracie borrowed lily’s ruffly lace shorts and lily changed to a new outfit.

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 somehow we managed to get the playground to ourselves!

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 if this top were bigger, i’d borrow it from lily!  she should share, right?  after all, i loaned her my necklace, so its only fair ;)

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 because taking pictures is hard work, the girls were rewarded in ice cream.  because thats how i pay for things.  in ice cream.

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 those blue eyes just don’t quit!

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 i mean, really.

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 and for a little fun, here are my favorite outtakes!  they crack me up!

outfit details:

outfit #1 on lily: soft lace ruffly skirt – my little jules \\ denim top – target \\  necklace – borrowed from me \\  head wrap – my little jules

outfit #1 on grace: top – my little jules \\  skirt – my little jules \\  necklace – my little jules

outfit #2 on lily: top – my little jules \\  necklace – borrowed from me \\  shorts – target \\  head wrap – my little jules

outfit #2 on grace: top – my little jules \\  necklace – my little jules \\  shorts – my little jules

a note on the clothes:  each item i received from my little jules was extremely high, boutique quality!  when we’re not receiving hand-me-downs, i tend to shop lower end for my kids.  but these clothes have a quality you can feel in the fabric and the stitching that you just don;t get with cheaper clothes.  these are going to last and hold up well!  also, gracie’s clothes were all size 10 and lily’s were size 8.  sizing can be tricky for my girls, but these sizes were perfect!  also, the selection is huge!  when you check them out, be sure to also take a look at their sale section – the prices there are amazing!

my little jules has a $5 fist customer discount (with code Welcome) and free shipping on $79+ anywhere in the US and Canada!  also, they have offered one of you a $100 gift card!  see raffle copter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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linking up my weekly phone pics with jeannett!  i’m thepleatedpoppy on instagram if you want to follow along!

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my friend was hosting a bridal shower and i got to help her with the decor.  yippee!  a couple buckets of roses from my front yard helped out quite a bit!

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silas had a recitation night last week.  the same recitation that he was too nervous to do last year.  thanks to tons of preparation from a good friend of mine, he rocked his poem!  it takes a village to raise and school these kids!

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i had to snap a pic of this little 8 year old.  with ear buds in, she was rocking out to her uncle’s old band and crafting away quietly on a secret birthday gift for her sister.  just a quick peak into what she may look like in years to come…

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this jerk had to turn 11 this week.

ok, she’s actually the sweetest kid ever, but i’m still mad at her for growing up.

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and then we accidentally matched for her birthday dinner!

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the same day she turned “eleventeen”, we celebrated our 14th anniversary.  well, we remembered a couple times throughout the day that it was our anniversary and laughed about how much of a backseat it has taken.  thankfully we had barcelona to celebrate early!

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despite the absolute bored look on their faces, they were actually enjoying watching the sea lions catch fish dropped by the fisherman in morro bay.  we ventured out for an early fish n’ chips dinner with my parents on a really nice day!

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just before dinner we stopped into my mom’s favorite garden store and i spotted one of my favorite plants, string of pearls.

plans for the weekend?  we’re thinking of pulling out the new/old rv and cleaning it up… since we haven’t touched it since we bought it!