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No doubt about it- my kids have big thick heads of hair.


Like uncontrollable big thick heads of hair. Most of them curly, except for Cole. I’m sure his will turn curly too.


This is the longest Blake’s hair has ever been.


He cut it right before his lax tourney. I don’t think his helmet was fitting very well


Our trampoline needed new pads and sides after Austin and friends ripped a big hole in the net. It’s the third set this trampoline has had. Eva says they are no longer allowed on “her” trampoline.


She’s the boss.

Hannah - Duh. She IS the boss :)

Eva Bonita

My sweet little hot-headed Latina is supposed to start Kindergarten this Fall.


I have been on the fence about if I should send her or give her another year. Her birthday was in April. She should go. But I knew there were bigger issues I needed to look into. Like her inability to focus on a task. Or her impulsiveness. Or her issues with other kids….


I tried to go thru the usual channels to get things figured out but when I realized it would be a 6 plus month process I decided to pay out of pocket and get the ball rolling.


So we sent her to what we called her “feelings doctor” to get some answers. Turns out my girly tested very high on the ADHD scale.

I know a lot of people wouldn’t put this info out there but here’s the deal- if your kid needs help, you should never be afraid to get it. Or ashamed of it. Because if you are, they will be too. And that’s not cool.

I know Eva has been through so much, so many moves and houses and with all her toys still in storage- that would be a lot for any kid to take. But for a kid like her it has been extra hard. We see brief glimpses of the kid she could be, and often says she wants to be… but 90% of the time she is on over-drive. She actually asked for help. She told her doctor that kids don’t like her because she is too rough and that makes her sad. I knew that already, but hearing her doctor tell us that SHE knows it too and voiced it made me cry.

As I often say, parenting is not an easy gig. And this year has been hard. Living in hotels, with friends, in rentals, If I wasn’t crazy before I certainly am now.

We have been back in our house- indoor camping for a couple weeks but moving back out again this weekend for two weeks while the floors get finished. I know all of this affects her.

I am ready to settle. To pick up my camera- because when I don’t have that outlet I lose all sense of who I am and what I like to do. And then I take it out on everyone else.

And I make this face that my girly makes when I take too many pictures of her


I think I am going to take 3 out of 4 kids to the beach for a week- it’s better than 2 weeks in a local hotel. I’m not thrilled about the idea of doing it solo but it’s the beach- and nothing is better than that.


Jennifer Niksich - You are an amazing mother! Way to go on getting Eva the help she needs and wants. Too many times parents try to hide or ignore the fact that their child needs help. You realize that Eva needs and wants help. She is getting both now. Now she is going to be able to be the REAL Eva that has been hiding behind behaviors/feelings she didn’t recognize or now how to cope with.

Gretchen P - You and Andy are amazing parents! All of your kiddos are blessed to have you! I know all to well about the ADHD thing. Robbie was diagnosed in 1st grade. I get it. It is not always easy. There is lots of information out there, and it will take time to decide what works best for you and E. Be patient, and even on the hardest days, know better days are coming. I promise. I look at how far we’ve come with Robbie, and I am amazed. You all will navigate this, and be better for it. I know we don’t know each other that well, but if you just need to vent, I am a great listener.

Amber - We went through this very same situation with our L. She had some serious sensory issues and wasn’t the best in socializing either. Her birthday was also in April and we made the decision to wait an extra year for kindergarten. It was honestly, one of the harder decisions we have made for her, but it is not one we regret at all. While she is one of the oldest in the class, it isn’t by much. Lots of kids have May or summer birthdays in our district so it is pretty much a non-issue. The added maturity of an extra year has given her a little boost in the social-skills area and her academics have been much better than I think they would have been otherwise. Every teacher I talked to (and there were a lot) said you won’t regret the extra year but you might regret starting her to early.

I would love to know who the psychologist you saw was. I wonder that L might have a little inattentive ADD on top of the sensory stuff and I need to get an evaluation started before her IEP expires in early spring.

Jules M - Thank you for sharing. You are a mom that knows that your child is going through something. That she needs some help. That you need to figure it out. You have seen her struggle. I hope that having this information will help you guide her towards things that will help. She is a beautiful girl & this is such a big step in the right direction. Good luck. Enjoy the beach.

Hannah - I always tell the kids you only hide what you are embarrassed of and if your embarrassed than it tells others its something negative, but if you admit it and own it, then it looses it’s power. She is awesome…that never changes.

Sophia’s BFF was supposed to start K the year before Sophia {her birthday is in May, Sophia in September} but her mom held her back for some of the same reasons and instead of struggling she has really thrived. I sometimes wish I had held Dmitry back {he’s an April birthday} I think it would have made the earlier years easier for him and that would have carried over into more confidence…because he lacks it. But I didn’t, not entirly for the right reasons, but we learned a lot together and he’s doing well now. I think whatever road you take, you’ll make the best of it.

Enjoy the beach. Do you need a family photographer? I know of a chubby, lame but totally awesome photographer who could really use a beach vacation ;) I need a home update soon!

Theresa - Eva is so lucky to have you as a mother. The fact that you are so willing to share something so many would much rather hide under the rug is a true testament to character. No matter what decision you reach about starting E this year or next, she will do awesome. Thanks for sharing.

The last of the beach

I really wish we were sitting there waiting for the ferry to Bald Head Island right now.


It’s such a cool place.


Instead these two boys are working today, laying sod.


Eva is begging to go to the pool but it’s so hot, and it will be so crowded. And I’m tired from a weekend in Cincinnati watching Blake in a lax tournament. We all decided that we have had enough of Cincy to last at least 3 years. But he played well, and lots of people told me that he is one of the nicest kids they have ever met. I’m proud of him. The team took 2nd place.


I am actually planning another trip out of town- we have to get out of the house again so they can do the hardwood floors. The beach is calling my name.


I need to do a house update soon. Maybe after the granite gets delivered on Thursday.


Austin is now running 17 miles a day. Dude is crazy.


I can’t believe the summer is almost over


I could use another couple of months


The final days at the beach flew by


Boys played some beach lax



And the girly danced


And that was the end of Topsail 2014



Tiffany - Another Summer almost down…and no trips:( Can’t wait to see the house update.


Hannah - These are awesome!

Sorry for the quietness, I’ve been reading…just not communicating. I would love a week at the beach. It’s just not happening this summer…I can’t even seem to get a weekend away, which is crazy.

Elizabeths - I love last pic of Andy and Eva. What a great shot! I’m hoping for one more last trip even if it’s an overnight weekend stay and I can’t wait for the house pics YIPPIE!!!


I have been offline and out of touch for over a week while I moved from a hotel back to my house where we have no internet or cable and very limited electricity. On top of all that we made the choice to put Barley to sleep. She was down a significant amount of weight. Not eating. And as a blind/deaf dog that was 11 (which is a decent age for a Golden)… I really felt like if she just had one issue it would be ok- but her face was all bloody from her rubbing it on the concrete due to allergies, she was falling, not even trying to find food. She was a mess. And I couldn’t get her up. When I would try to let her out in the morning she just wouldn’t get up. So I decided to let the vet decide. And the vet said she was living in a lonely world. And the fact that she had dropped so much weight…

I’m sad.

But this is how I choose to remember her. Back when she was healthy. And happy. At the farm.


Pet ownership is no doubt a heartbreaking deal. But so worth it. It never gets easier saying goodbye. But I will never give up loving a dog like this- having one or more in my life. Never.


Barley baby you were such a great dog.

We brought you in right after I had Cole- we had no time to train a dog and you seemed to know that. You trained yourself.


You slept in his carseat:)


you were such a little bear


I will never forget the day the boys picked you out of the litter…


I miss you so much my sweet girl


I feel like my eyes will always be red and swollen. This was hard.



I don’t understand people that don’t love dogs. I really don’t. As heartbreaking as it is to give one up- it’s one of the best parts of life.


So while my heart is broken and the tears are still flowing- I will never regret bringing you into our lives. I love you big girl. You are so very much missed.

Sarah "SophieBugsMom" - So sorry about having to say goodbye to Barley… we know that decision is forthcoming in our household too with our 12 year old Cavalier, Maggie. I walk into the kitchen every morning and peer into the doggie bed as she tries to wake up and wag her tail to greet us. Our furbabies are definitely a blessing to all of us… but so hard to let go.


Lisa - I’m so sorry. I can relate as we had to put our 16 year old dog down 4 years ago. I still miss her and could cry at the thought of losing her.

azjenny - I am so sorry about your beautiful Barley! I absolutely agree-can’t imagine life without our wonderful pets but losing them is heartbreaking. The only thing that makes it any easier is knowing the time was right for your decision.

Angie - I’m so sorry about Barley! Its so hard loving those fur babies when its time to say good-bye. My hubby was a K9 officer for years and his very first dog was the best damn dog there ever was. She mothered my babies and was fiercely protective of them. Especially my daughter. Its been 2 years since we said good-bye to her and to this day if I start talking about her I burst into tears. I can not have a dog or 2 in my life either. Hugs to you and your family.

Elizabeth's - I wish I was there to give you a comforting hug. My eyes are tearing up. This was a beautiful tribute to your beautiful dog. She is among the angels now running free. thanks for sharing and I agree so much about owning a dog. Nothing like it!!!

gayle - This made me teary…I sit here with Chris’ dog, Luke, a golden, age 7 at my feet. They are the sweetest dogs but we need to give them an out. Your dr. is wise. Thinking of you all now. Respect is such an important part of owning a pet. You are showing love and the respect.

Kim V. - I’m so sorry, Elisa. Making that decision is gut-wrenching, but so is seeing them struggling. I’m crying for her, and for you. What a beautiful girl she was, and what a happy life she had with you. Thinking about you all.

Laura H - Tears are flowing as I read this post. As an animal lover, I completely understand the emotions you are having. Dogs are family! My heart breaks for you! Hold your memories close to your heart, and know that in time the pain will subside. Hugs

Hannah - :( I know how much you love your sweet dogs. I never trust people who don’t like animals…so I totally get what you are saying.

I don’t really have anything to say other than it stinks and I wish it didn’t. I’m in a similar boat, our dog Augie is at that point too…in fact we have this conversation every single week. I just haven’t been able to do it…yet. It breaks my heart to think about it…which in turn makes me think of you and Barley and my heart breaks for you too. Love you.

jordan - so sorry for your loss..ty for giving him an amazing life and ty for making the decision not to have him suffer…
we put our dog down 3 days before xmas..and i still cry..
but as my daughter tells me..dogs do not have to live as long b/c they are born full of love and goodness and give us unconditional love in the short time we are blessed to have them