When your big brother plans a suprise visit…

family maggie whitley

family maggie whitley

venice beach umbrella maggie whitley

family maggie whitley

family maggie whitley

My brother visited me for my birthday in July — a surprise visit! — and I just have to say, having a solid relationship with your sibling as adults is pretty rad. We’re only two years apart in age, but now that we have children of our own we have a totally different, awesome relationship from when we were younger.

Last year Matt surprised me by flying to Los Angeles for a week. It was his first time meeting Maxwell and it was amazing to see them interact as uncle and nephew. This year was more of a reunion for them. It was like we stepped back in time (minus my new baby bump) and the flow of his visit didn’t miss a beat. My brother has two boys of his own, so our parents are very curious if our second Whitley baby will be a boy or girl ;)

airplane bank maggie whitley

airplane bank maggie whitley

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Uncle Matt and Maxwell (about 5 months old), Summer 2013

We visited the Santa Monica Promenade soon after Matt and his girlfriend Kim arrived in LA. While we were window shopping, and reminiscing about Matt’s visit last year, we stopped into a baby boutique where Matt bought a red airplane piggy bank for Maxwell.

Once we were back at home they sat at the table and Matt taught Max how to put the coins in the thin slot on top. There’s a special message written on the bottom… and reading it makes me feel so many emotions. I’m incredibly blessed to have him as a big brother, and how much he loves my family.

I’m grateful that the miles between us are like a strong, woven rope. They don’t take away from our relationship, instead they give us something to cling to.

29!

family fourth of july maggie whitley

Over the weekend so many great things happened. First, our family enjoyed a loooooong three days of togetherness. It was fun and lovely and re-energizing and memorable. Secondly, we celebrated the Fourth of July and went to our first parade with Maxwell, hooray! What a wonderful day for our country to celebrate. And then to top off the FUN category here (if that’s even possible), I turned 29 on Saturday! ;)

Zack surprised me with a birthday brunch with my best girlfriends and our hubbies, pedicures, the sweetest cards from him and Max/Bauer/baby #2. And can I just say — the cards Zack writes for Max and Bauer are hilarious. Oh my. Later Saturday night we had dinner down in Manhattan Beach, and then pulled into our driveway just in time to get Max to bed. And then on Sunday we found ourselves at the pool. Everything about our long weekend was perfect, even the cranky moments of naps being boycotted.

Did you know I’ve known Zack since I was 18? We met as freshman in college at Central Michigan University and have pretty much been inseparable since. Eleven years later and he’s still the same caring, charming man. That in itself is a grand enough gift.

What a wonderful, blessed life this is. The hard days still come around, but focusing on the sweet moments is what pushes us through. I always get excited to turn a year older because it’s another opportunity to reflect on all the positives. Yup :)

PS. Maxwell last year at his first Fourth of July celebration, he’s so tiny!

The beat of life.

maxwell sleeping maggie whitley

Maxwell will be 15 months old on the 12th and that is literally fascinating to me. For one, where does the time disappear to?! I’m so grateful for all our memories we have created together since his birth. To be home with our babes is such hard work, it takes consistency and patience, and trying to get enough rest is pretty much a requirement. But these years at home with our babes are years of investment. They are my favorite years. As soon as we started a bedtime routine with Max he started going to bed so gosh darn easy for us. We keep a couple stuffed animals in his crib with him but it’s clear his favorite is Scout, a gift from my brother the Christmas I was pregnant. Once he’s in bed we’ll hear Scout “talking” to Maxwell, and Zack and I just look at each other and smile big cheesy grins. We are so head-over-heels in love with Maxwell. He is such a blessing to our entire family.

The 14 long (to us) months we prayed for our first baby were hard months. When we finally relaxed into the beat of life we found it much easier to be patient, and shortly later we had an announcement to share. And oddly, we find the same mentality to be true once the child is born: relax into the beat of life and your rhythm will come, naturally.

How to love on your children.

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I’ll never forget it — we were sitting in church a couple months ago and Pastor Brad was speaking on the importance of making sure we encourage our children (specifically fathers) and how powerful simply loving on them is, verses always parenting/correcting them. He gave many examples and it was seriously soul touching to see Zack absorbing the pastor’s wisdom.

One of my favorite examples shared that Sunday morning was about a little boy who had just finished playing a game of baseball. The coach was recapping some points from the game, and afterward a father met up with his son. I really enjoyed watching you play today; you did a great job, he told his son. And that was all he said. Pastor Brad made sure to emphasize this father could have repeated the coach’s points, reminding his son of the mistakes made during the game. Instead the father knew the importance of loving on his son through encouraging words.

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As a mother, you desire for your husband and children to have a close relationship. And I love so much that Zack and Maxwell are developing their own special bond… through tool time. Zack has such a leadership heart, and when Max points at the toolbox in the closet I know it is a proud moment for Zack to have such a special “man activity” with his son.

One by one they pull out each tool, and Zack explains what its called and what it does. Max usually puts it down quickly and focuses on holding the next tool, but he’s starting to hold on to them and use them correctly. But what I’m noticing is how Zack encourages Maxwell, regardless of whether he uses it correctly.

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Maxwell is at the age where he’s really beginning to notice things: the way we speak to each other, how we take care of our toys, our routines before a meal or at bedtime, etc. Actually, the other day I noticed Maxwell was putting his little LeapTop computer in the same drawer Zack stores his wacom tablet. He’s watching our every move (especially daddy) and I’m just so thankful Zack is exactly the man he is.

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These are hard years as parents. Very impressionable years. But the reward when we take the time to invest in our children is immeasurable, that’s for sure.

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