girl’s trip to Florida 2017

A little over two weeks ago, Elsa and I returned from our second annual ‘girl’s trip to Florida‘.

The fourteen days spent in America visiting family, soaking up the warm sun, and taking a break from the daily grind of the household was just what I needed to recharge my batteries. I returned to Germany feeling reconnected, refreshed, motivated and inspired.

Our trip was broken into three segments.  We flew from Germany into Tampa, Florida and stayed with Jay’s parents in Clearwater Beach for four days.  The weather was cool and WINDY those first few days so we just relaxed and took in some shopping.


We then flew to Tallahassee, Florida.

My mom drove down from North Carolina.  She and my brother picked us up at the airport and we drove a little under two hours to Panama City where my brother is now stationed with the U.S. Air Force.  We enjoyed seeing where my brother and his family now call home.  He was a great tour guide, taking us to great restaurants and fabulous beaches.

St. Andrew’s State Park

Panama City Beach

We got to see my brother all dressed up on his way to a ceremony for work.

Elsa fell in love with the family dog, Lilly ♥♥♥


Elsa and I then flew back to Tampa for the remainder of our stay in Clearwater Beach.
We enjoyed splashing around in the pool at the condo and hanging out on the nearby beach.

 

 

My tan might already be fading, but the memories made on this trip will last a lifetime.

I am filled with gratitude for all who pitched in, rearranged schedules, took time off of work, drove long distances, and for girlfriends back home who made dinners and picked up kiddos, making our wonderful trip possible…THANK YOU!!

xoxo,

Mel

motherhood on the ICE train

The ICE (InterCity Express) is a high-speed train, with speeds up to 300km/hr, that connects all major cities in Germany and includes international connections to surrounding countries.  While it is a time saver, much is missed by taking this train.  There are fewer stops along the route and the beautiful scenery zooms by in a blur out the window.

This is often how I feel about Motherhood. The phrase ‘It’s all going by too fast‘ sits on my lips.
Every. Single. Day.
If I could make it slow down, switch to a regional (slower train), I would.
In a heartbeat.

Perhaps that is the root of my passion for photography.  Wanting to capture every moment I can so that in slower moments I can pour over them again, and again.  Relive the moments. Feel them again.

this...is everything.... so incredibly grateful and blessed to be mom to these four amazing children. #motherhood #allthefeels

A post shared by 📷 mel.etchell🌾 (@focusing.on.joy) on

 
I know it has been quiet here on the blog. I usually compose all our posts from our desktop computer and sitting down do so has been a challenge. Any social media, emailing and messaging is done from a mobile device (Instagram and WhatsApp have really been my on-the-go sharing apps). I just haven’t gotten the hang of how to blog like that and quite honestly, I do not think I want to. So thanks for sticking around with a listening ear.

As we are going into Mother’s Day weekend, I want to share a few things I am ‘hearting’ on right now.

The first is this by Lisa Jo Baker :: When You Still Need Your Mom and She’s Not There Anymore. Her writing speaks my heart.

Next, is this song, Slow Down by Nichole Nordeman. It speaks all those emotions I feel as mother to my four babes as I ride this marvelous train called Motherhood.

Wishing all the wonderful Mother’s, who I adore, out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!!!

xoxo,

Mel

elsa :: 8 month update

Didn’t I just post her 6 month update!?

Well, here we are already, Elsa at 8 months old ::

Weight :: 25lbs

Teeth :: Two bottom in since December. Currently cutting four top teeth ALL AT THE SAME TIME!! They have all broken through the gums. After these, I am hoping we will have a break in teething. So many, so fast…no fun.

Sleeping :: Not big on daytime naps, unless riding in the car which is good since we are on the go so much. She likes to be worn in the Tula baby carrier and will fall to sleep fast while in it. Nighttime sleeping has varied with her growth spurts in the last few months. She likes to go to bed late and sleep in late.

Eating :: She is still mostly nursing. Loves peas, bananas, apples, blueberries, carrots and salmon.

Hobbies :: She is a water baby, contented to stay in the water whether it is in her bath or at the pool. Playing peek-a-boo, her piano, clapping and smiling round out most of her days.

While she still is not crawling, her latest discovery is that the furniture is the perfect height to pull herself up on.  Cruising between the ottomans and the couches has become a favorite activity.

Just look at her go…!

PullingHerselfUpFeb2016

StandingonHerOwnFeb20161

 

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I can vividly remember taking this photo of Ari at 8 months, standing proudly after pulling himself up on the same ottoman, just a few short years ago.

Here is a link to that post (with a video!) :: 8 months old!.

 

xoxo,

Mel

happy birthday to our littlest boy :: {ari turns 5!}

Five years ago today, in the early morning hours, Jason and I sat quietly together in the dimly lighted living room of our home in Belgium. I was full of belly with our third child, our third boy.

Contractions had started coming on earlier the evening before and were becoming more frequent, but remained mild. So we sat waiting, waiting for them to start to come on stronger and longer. I instinctively felt the time was nearing to welcome our baby boy, but my water hadn’t broken like it had with our other two. There was no true sign that told us to go to the hospital. However, I remained uneasy and unable to calm myself enough to sleep.

It had been a fear of mine since becoming pregnant while living in the big city of Brussels that I would go into labor during the daytime when traffic was always horrendous and Jason was a good 25-30 minute drive away. In my mind, nighttime was when I had hoped to deliver our baby. Finally around 3:00am Jason said he would call for our friend, Carmen, to come and stay with the boys. The first two births were fast ones and he was a little nervous about making it to the hospital once I started progressing.

Carmen arrived in a flash. Excited for us, she said not to worry about Alex and Andy, wished us luck and we were out the door on our way to the hospital. Driving there we were hoping they wouldn’t tell us to go back home because it wasn’t quite time. We arrived at the hospital, parked the car and we walked (I waddled) holding hands in the rain through the emergency room entrance of the hospital.

Things got underway pretty quickly after we checked in…

William Ari Zolton was born on January 13th @ 7:25 am. He was 6.5lbs and 20in at birth.

AriBday13Jan2011

He ranks third in comparison to birth weight and height of our four children.

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Today he measures taller than Alex and Andy at 5 years.

Ari5bday1

Ari5bday2

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Ari is no longer the youngest of the family, but he will always be my baby boy.

Happy 5th birthday to our green-eyed love!

xoxo,

Mel