brotherly love

Mail. When did we stop sending it? When stamps started changing prices every 2 weeks so that we have to keep on purchasing those pesky 1 cent stamps and throw off the balance [or chi if you will] of the outside of our envelopes? Being a lover of real mail when my pesky beloved child dog ate my address book and I became too lazy and forgetful to remember people's addresses. This not knowing addresses part doesn't stop my brother though. He called the other day to see if I had gotten mail from him, he had "guessed on [my] address." You know where this is going...he guessed wrong. Apparently it was something important. I assumed a nice thank-you note for the Bean Pillow. I knocked on my down-the-street neighbors door where the mail had gone, but they had sent it back with the neighborhood mailman. Trusty mailman that he is sent it back, and then my trusty sister-in-law, who doesn't guess on mailing addresses sent it back.

This was not the thank-you note I expected (I already got one of those from my very prompt and always on top of things sister-in-law) thanks Ash! Instead, on his last trip home, Adam had been given a box of his things from my mom to dig through. This is not uncommon - mom is always trying to pawn things off on us from her house, and especially now that she is getting ready to move. Usually it was junk. This time there were treasures, treasures that he wanted to share with me to remind me he loves me and is glad I am his sister, and his mother's favorite child. {okay he didn't add that last part, but I know he meant it.} Here are the treasures:

I doubt you can read this, it is a letter I sent him while we were at camp, our first summer. Keep in mind our camps were across the highway from each other, and I sent him mail [and the date is "Food Fight Night."]
Dear Adam,
I know this might sound strange but I miss you a whole lot! I'm a little homesick and hope mom will take me back home! I miss taking care of Laura. I sort-of even miss getting in fights with you! I'm glad your disease is getting better {side note, NO idea what I was referring to here} Today in choir a bird crashed through the chapel window and broke it! Some people helped me make a grave for it. Sometimes I feel like crying because I miss everyone. Like right now I feel like crying because now I know how hard life would be without you! After Crestridge went back to their cabins, I had a HUGE lump in my throat!
Bye![my exclamation point had a heart as the dot!]Love,
P.S. I hope you get a care package soon.
P.S.S. Just in case you rip the envelope, my address is: ...

PEOPLE. I was eight years old. This letter is hilarious and very sweet to me. Who knew this camp that I was so homesick at for so many years would become my home for the next 15 years? Camp was a great bond for Adam & I, even though we added it to our list of competition of whose camp was better of course. I conceded on this one in the end.

Maybe we remember a lot of big brother little sister fights from being little; and he gave me a hard time my whole life for not eating meat, but I also remember sobbing when I would tell on him and would be given the chance to hit him back, and helping him hide books in the butt of his pants as fast as we could before my dad came up the stairs to spank him for picking on me. A little sister can't not love and look up to her big brother, especiallywhen he is a smart nerd who married a great woman and is getting ready to have a baby bean who I will be the FAVORITE aunt to. Even though this is the only picture of my brother and I on my wedding day, he's been a huge part of all the big important times in my life!

Not to mention, who could resist this brotherly love - this was on a trip to Disney, we were whooped, and look at how he is loving on me. This picture has been up in my house since college (when my mom sent me home with a box of random stuff with this one treasure in it).

We tried to start an annual camping trip together. The first year it was just the two of us [love the sunlight coming in through the tress on him in this picture - yes that's sunlight not over-exposure; and the leaves being kicked up under his feet in this picture] the next year we brought Laura along with us, and the next year...oh wait, there were only 2 years of tradition!

But they were fun years and great memories, and I can't wait to take Caleb (the Bean) with us on another trip to Dickey's Knob so he can learn to build a fire from the pro (me)!

The extra one cent stamp was worth it on this envelope, thanks brother figure.


26 and counting

Hard to believe that this is the same boy. Other than the obvious uncertainty of water - nevermind that this cutie is a total beach baby born in Hawaii and only recently moved to LA.

That's right - the Bruces (Natalie, Dave, & Kaden) aka my free place to stay in Hawaii just moved from Kona to LA. But the real fun is that they were here in Charlotte for the weekend. Terry and I took off work Friday and we got to spend all weekend with them. I heart being a part of the Bruce family. In effort to not get sappy, I will just say, WOW, what a blessing. And if my sister thought that Terry made me a cooler person - there's no telling what more time with ALL of these family members will do for my cool points!

Weekend tidbits and highlights in picture book fashion...

Friday we just spent family time being family and catching up and being together. Saturday brought a day full of busy funness [not a word, I know]. We headed to the lake to spend the afternoon at the Dunlaps and rode on the boat while catching some rays and holding onto 58 [or 4] kids.
*Note to self: husband is going to be PRECIOUS father

I heart these pictures. This is a face that Sam makes all the time, and he really was so into this Slip & Slide after our boat ride. He would stand 20 feet back, run full speed ahead and then just totally belly flop onto the hill. Ben on the other hand just took a vertical jump into the air and landed on his belly before sliding through the water gulping in gallons of water. After watching his brother several times, he finally figured out the run & dive plan - it worked much better for him from then on. Obviously (see picture of Kaden at top) not all of us were so convinced that this was such a fun idea altogether (or at all).

Saturday night after naps and showers for all, Bob & Gloria (Grandpa &Grandma) kept all of the kids so all of us big kids could go out as couples. This was awesome. I realized I have never gotten to hang out with my brothers and sisters-in-law without the kids, and it was so great to spend time with them getting to know them, eating yummy sushi, drinking adult beverages, and discussing the highs and lows of designer jeans addicts. [*When asked what he was most surprised by about me in our marriage, Terry's answer was the cost of my jeans. HA! Good thing he loves me enough to let me continue with this addiction for the sake of both of our happiness!] Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, no pictures from this night - mostly because my camera doesn't so much fit in my clutch. All the same, great memories, and hopeful plans of yearly family reunions were made! Anyone know beach houses that sleep 26?

[*potentially, this would fit...everything but our budgets that is]

Sunday, Robert and his family came down (bringing the Bruce grand total to 18 out of 26 (not bad - the rest of you SUCKERS should move closer!) to see the clan, celebrate the twins' 11th birthday, eat more yummy food, engage in the routine Bruce Poker Challenge, and remove the toxins from our bodies through our feet. This I'm not kidding about. One great thing about Terry's parents is that they always get the newest gimicks. This one was too gross to photograph, I potentially even believe in it. Enough that I'm convinced to do a detox fast with Jen after Memorial Day! The highlight of the day was of course Kaden's drum session. [*this video is old, taken in August, I'll re-post the new video from this weekend soon] He really is a prodigy child, I cannot wait to see how the Lord uses this little boy. Amazing.

All in all, a most fabulous weekend, and I'm pretty darn excited about a little anxious about volunteering myself to plan our first family reunion. Details to follow!


Puppy Love

Meet Salem.
The Bruce dog.
Look at all of the angles and the way her hair grows on her chest and belly.
I love this about her. She looks so shiny in this picture -
as if I brush her or bathe her regularly.
Yeah right, like that is in my daily schedule or something.
I gave up after my $50 Furminator was stolen from our loft.

Meet Ruby.
She's the neighbor dog.
Ruby used to be scared of other dogs, especially big dogs...especially excited dogs.
(this of course is the definition of Salem)

Be afraid no longer Ruby!
Salem and Ruby are now the best of buds - true puppy love (nevermind that they are both girls). It totally reminds me of The Fox and the Hound. Again, nevermind that one of them isn't a fox and neither of them hunt. You get the idea. I love that movie and I feel the need to relate to it - Ruby and Salem are giving me that window, let me jump in! (or out...)

Salem was taunting Ruby in the front yard the other day with this stick straight out of Ruby's yard, chasing her in circles and finally gave in and let Ruby catch up with her. They laid in the front yard in the grass (don't look at the fact that it really needs to be cut!) for a good 20 minutes chewing on this stick together. I like the unlikely friendship between these puppies. I hope my kids have these kinds of friends. These are the friends that take us by surprise and stick with us for a long time. The kind you can chew on a stick with (read: drink a glass of wine an talk about nothing at all with), chase each other around the back yard (read: play phone tag for 3 months and then talk without missing a beat), and bark at through the screened in porch at night just because you hear each other there (read: call on the phone with nothing to say). I love these friends...and these dogs.
The best kind of friend -
the one that licks your cheek when you try to take her picture
because all she really wants to do is play catch and tug of war.
Leave me alone with that camera thing mom.



lucky me. one of my favorite (not that i have favorites...) kids from work turned 5 and her sweet mama decided to divert from the traditional studio photos for the first time to get some home shots. oh to be celebrating only being f-i-v-e again. no mortgages, no 8-6 jobs, no laundry, no mouths to feed and no house to clean (other than those of your baby dolls and the rooms of the doll house). lucky me - MORE than happy to get to live vicariously through her and celebrate - and this family has taught me that everything is worth celebrating. every. thing.

the cute o'toole family

sweet lovin' on each other

precious sean and the fabulous five year old maura

REALLY. these kids could not be cuter.

these are things that make me want to change professions.

then again, i wouldn't have these kiddos if i didn't have my current profession.

full of the abundance of life - exactly what i hope to capture every time.