Category: Holidays

Christmas Letter 2016

It is absolutely true what they say about how each year goes faster the older you get. I can’t believe it is time again for another year to end.

The year 2016 has been a year of growth, reflection, successes and heartache all rolled into one. I feel like that is every year for every one though, isn’t it? Looking back I have to say I am just so overwhelmed at God’s goodness and timing. The ways He has blessed me will never cease to amaze me. 

Andy’s job is going well, though quite stressful. He has been in charge of major projects at the mill and been successful in completing those. I don’t even pretend to understand what all he does, but I know I am so proud of him. We are praying this year leads to more success for him and also a little less stress. 

Rory ended Kindergarten and began 1st grade. We decided to go to a new school this year after a lot of trials at the other school. It was such a tough decision, but one I am so glad we made. The first of the year came with some major struggles, but I cannot even begin to tell you how much Rory has matured and grown through all of it. She is so tenacious and resilient and I’m so very proud of her for sticking with it and keeping her head up. The most profound blessing of my life, other than my own salvation, came this year when Rory gave her heart to Jesus. Oh, and she is so proud of it too. She tells everyone that will listen, “Did you know I am a Christian now?!” It is absolutely precious. In the midst of the heartache I felt when we found out Rory also had a heart defect, God gave her a new heart in Him. The timing was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever encountered. With every hard thing, God brings good. Rory also started on some new medicines to help her focus at school. The doctor asked her how she thought it was going and Rory said, “well you won’t believe this but I’m doing so great that my teacher is BRAGGING on me all the time. And I’m reading everything now and actually like to sit and read!” Her doctor looked up at me with tears in her eyes and you all know I was a mess. This is what we had been hoping and praying for. Rory at age 6 – almost seven!- is an absolute joy. She is still so funny and smart. Her personality hasn’t changed with this medicine, but she is shining through more than ever. Oh, I am so proud of my Rory. 

Ryder started Kindergarten this year and is absolutely in love with school. To be honest, I was a little worried I was making the wrong decision in sending her when she is a young 5. But I trusted my instincts and I am so glad I did. Her teacher is such a delight and we are so thankful for her. Ryder loves school so much that she had strep and was feeling awful but didn’t tell me because she didn’t want to miss school. She comes home from school every day and immediately goes to her “desk” to write or play teacher. She is like a sponge, absorbing every bit of information that she can. She is beginning to read and, of course, that is just the best thing to watch develop. I’m so proud of her. Ryder is still the joy that lights up any room and I can’t believe she is already 5 and in school.

I have to say, having two kids now that are “big” kids is JUST THE BEST. The girls and I went on our first roadtrip this summer and it was so easy and we had the very best time. The beach this summer was a breeze. We have been on day trips, week long trips, and everything in between and each time I think- LIFE IS GOOD. I feel like this stage with kids is by far my favorite. I cannot wait to see what adventures we get ourselves into in 2017.

As far as myself goes, I think this year has come with more growth in myself than any other. I took a step back and re-evaluated my life and knew I needed change. This time last year I didn’t like myself very much, if I’m being very honest. I had let so much negative in my life and needed to break away. I remember when I was going through one of the hardest times of my life at the beginning of the year, I laid on my face and begged God to shine some light into me. I didn’t like who I was as a mom, friend, family member. At that time, God started whispering into my heart and I’m telling you, I have changed in so many ways this year. Do not read this as I have any of my crap together because I STILL DON’T. Read this as God has shown mercy and grace on my life this year. In the depths of my sorrow through miscarriages and infertility this year, He has been a guiding light. He has saved me from despair by filling me with things that bring me so much joy. He’s given me such peace that whether I have another baby or not, life is still so good and I am so blessed. He stripped me from my former self and has made me stronger. I’m more thankful for every moment with my girls. I’m less selfish, but taking care of myself more in the important ways. I’m a better mom and wife, though I still struggle daily. I’ve learned this year that joy is not in the circumstances, but in God’s grace on my life. Through every heartache this year, God has shown up in ways I never could have imagined. I’m so thankful that I can say that my joy is still holding strong and that God has brought me through hard and amazing times this year. I’m proud of the mom I have become this year more than anything. I’m also proud that my girls have seen me on good and bad days so they know nothing is ever perfect. But by God’s grace I have lived another year and am better for it. With every hard thing, God brought good- that has been the theme of 2016.

I hope that you all have such a Merry Christmas and so much joy in 2017.

 

Christmas Letter 2015

I just seriously cannot believe it is already Christmas and 2015 is coming to an end. This year has flown by faster than any other year.

What a year we have had! Last Christmas we still lived in our apartment in Cleveland and didn’t hardly know a single soul. Actually, we seriously didn’t know anyone! God blessed us with a beautiful home that we moved into in May and has blessed me with such great friends in just one short year. I remember feeling especially lonely last Christmas and almost wished we had gone home for the actual day of Christmas for that year.

Most of our things were in storage last Christmas and so we just had a simple Christmas and it was absolutely wonderful.

This year we made up for it though! We did outside lights and decor galore inside the house and we have all loved every second of it.

IMG_1780 christmastour3 christmastour1 IMG_1755 IMG_1777 IMG_1791 IMG_1794 christmastour2(this pic below made me laugh out loud because it is so bad but I’m just going to post it anyway and let you laugh too)

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I feel like 2015 has been a highly emotional year for me, ranging from such extreme happiness to extreme sadness. It has been a wonderful year and I feel like I have grown so much in all the ups and downs. The thing I know for absolute sure is that God stood next to me like a support beam through all the good and bad times. He is always faithful.

I don’t even know where to begin looking back on this year but when thinking of all that has happened I’m most astonished at how much my kids have grown and matured. This year we officially moved past the toddler phase and are into KID territory. It is so strange, y’all. Ryder still teeters between the two stages but there is no doubt about it- Rory is a KID. I can’t believe how fast time has gone and that she will be 6 soon.

Rory is still absolutely loving Kindergarten. (Andy and I were talking yesterday and cannot believe she is half way done with her first year in school!) She has been out of school for a week and is already itching to go back. She still sometimes struggles with her strong will and our suspicion that she suffers from ADD but she is really starting to get into her groove. The very best thing that is happening is her learning to read and write. I cannot even tell you the pride and joy it brings me to watch this area flourish for her. I am pretty sure watching your children learn is the most amazing thing to witness as a parent. Every day that goes by I notice more and more how gorgeous she is becoming. That brown hair and those brown eyes are just stunning. Sometimes I just stare at her and think, “how on earth can she be made from me?” I’m just so proud to be Rory’s mom.

Ryder is adoring PreK, although she isn’t quite as self motivated as Rory….. is anyone shocked here?! She automatically assumes she “can’t” when it comes to any sort of school work but once she has a little encouragement she always CAN. Ryder is absolutely the class clown both at home and school. Her facial expressions cannot be matched and I’m pretty sure this is my favorite quality about her. She is absolutely hysterical and cute as a stinking button. The problem is that she knows that she is that cute and uses it to her advantage as much as possible. She is such an aggravater and drives ALL of us absolutely crazy but she is also so incredibly tender hearted. My other favorite thing about Ryder is that she is SO content. You could give her a stick and she would think it was the greatest thing anyone had ever given her. She is just precious and I’m so proud to be her mom.

Andy is loving his job here and has really flourished this year. When I think about how different he is here than he was in Savannah it makes me want to sob. He was so over worked and over stressed there and I was always worried about him. Though he still works so much and so hard, the company he works for is so good to him and has been such an extreme blessing to our family.

I have struggled this year to find my identity and my place. I think going from working to being at home again was more of a shock than I realized it would be. When the kids were little being at home was an obvious choice but now that they are in school and bigger it seems silly and I feel like I have too much time to think! ha! Even though I have struggled I want to make for sure to let you know that I have also been happier this year than I could have ever imagined. From seeing my kids flourish and go to Kindergarten and PreK, to seeing Andy so incredibly satisfied at his job, to just absolutely loving Cleveland- it has been a wonderful year.

Now that we have been in Cleveland over a full year I cannot even stress to you how much we all LOVE living here. I feel certain that every move, good and not as good, led its way to here. God clearly had his hand in each move and step to lead us to living here. I get teary eyed just thinking about it. When Andy graduated from MS State he had an interview in a town over from us for TVA. He was offered the job and the job with International Paper in Louisiana. One of the hardest decisions we have ever made was that one because we so desperately wanted to live in East TN but he also wanted to work for the paper mill industry. So we took the job in LA and had a lot of people (including ourselves at times) questioning our decision since it was so far from home. But from there we moved to TX where we had the best two years of our lives, to Savannah, to Cleveland. God knew we needed to take the longer path to get to East TN because he knew when we needed to be here. I get so overwhelmed thinking about all the friends that have become family we have made along the way. And once again God has given us that in Cleveland too. My prayer for 2015 was for God to send me just one friend. Once again, he blew me out of the water with that. I’m just so thankful.

It has been a beautiful year and I’m so looking forward to our most magical Christmas yet. The girls are just giddy about Santa coming. More than that, they have been so interested and in awe over the Christmas story this year. I see their hearts opening to truth and to Jesus more and more each year. It is the most wonderful thing to watch happen.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas this year, no matter how simple or done up it is. I am so thankful to have all of you in my life!

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I’m going to need these coughs to go.

As I have told you before in many different ways….

COUGHING IS THE ONE THING THAT CAN DRIVE THIS SISTER OFF A LEDGE.

All four of us have had the worst cough and it doesn’t seem to be subsiding. I’m to the point where I’m about to slap myself because I am so dang annoying. And don’t even get me started on the whole pee your pants every.single.time. you cough fiasco that comes with motherhood.

Sorry. That was TMI. But someone has to tell the truth.

So basically since we have been back from our trips to the Caribbean and Mississippi (both equally wonderful places ;), we have been high on cough medicines and low on the actual coughs. Doesn’t that sound like SO MUCH FUN?! Honestly this has just shown me how blessed and thankful I am to live in a house of people that so rarely gets sick. This is the first fever the girls have had in a year and I haven’t had so much as a sneeze for several years. God just knows I can’t handle a cough for more than once in a few years, ha!

We did come back from the land of the living this weekend just in time for our first round of Christmas festivities!

First we put on our tackiest outfits and headed to our SS Christmas Party- it was an absolute blast. We played Dirty Santa and Battle of the Exes. I laughed until I cried several times. It was just the best.

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My gift included these lovely signs. I will be creating an etsy account so you can purchase this amazingness soon. IMG_0876 IMG_0868

It should be noted that the girls slept in their beds the entire night for the first time that week on Friday night. I woke up at 6 worried that someone had kidnapped them.

Saturday morning we headed to a local holiday market to go see Santa, Elsa, and the Grinch. It is weird to be in a phase of life where your children don’t scream bloody murder when sitting on Santa’s lap! I miss that stage, to be honest. santadarker IMG_1005 IMG_0911 IMG_0903 IMG_0908

Andy met us and we went to Chattanooga for lunch and a little shopping. We ended up at Bargain Hunt and I stood in front of this giant thing of depends for a good 5 minutes debating whether my life had come to an end this point where I was seriously considering this purchase.

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Christmas 2016 I’m asking for a bladder lift.

We, of course, watched the SEC Championship and I, of course, was pulling for Florida because I love an underdog. Obviously the teams I’m routing for seem to never win- I’m looking at you State, Bears, and now Florida. All I can say is THANK YOU LORD that football season is now over because I don’t think my heart can handle another SEC loss. I’ve washed my hands of football. For now.

Side note- I clearly mean that ANDY watched the game and I just sat and ate chips and chatted with my friends. And also snuck out while the kids were playing and the dads were pretending to watch them so that I could head on over to Bath and Body Works to take advantage of the once a year $8.50 candles. Twisted Peppermint is my love language. I’m seriously regretting not buying a ton of candles in whatever they had left so that I could return them and get more holiday candles. Oh well. Andy and my bank account are glad I didn’t.

I will have you know that both girls crashed like they literally never have before.IMG_0925

Hold on to your britches when I tell you that Rory slept NINE O’CLOCK PM TO NINE O’CLOCK AM without moving. Y’all know that chick has never slept that long IN HER ENTIRE LIFE. It was amazing.

Don’t worry, she has woken up every night since.

Sunday we went to church and then we headed ourselves back home because WE HAD SOME SERIOUS LOUNGING TO DO. I took a 3 hour nap. Oh yes I did. The girls took a nap. We watched movies and had hot chocolate and spent the entire afternoon and night in our pjs. It was the best. IMG_0956 IMG_0960

You should know that Ryder made me take the above picture of her and also send it to Ethan. Her main man at school. I was scrolling facebook and she saw a picture his mom had posted of him by a Christmas tree and she squealed and said, “OH HE IS SO HANDSOME AND CHARMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Then proceeded to insist I send him a picture of her. This girl. I don’t even know what to say. Teenage years may be scary.

I will not lie to you. Monday morning I took the girls to school and then I came back home and got in bed for a few hours. Oh yes I did. IT WAS PURE BLISS. Then I mad cleaned my house because I didn’t want Andy to think I had gotten back in the bed like the lazy sloth that I am.

Are y’all with me, ladies?

This morning Ryder and I were talking while I put her little water spout in her hair and she said, “Mama, I know why God made me!” I giggled and said, “why is that?” She replied with, “Well, you know, He just knew there wasn’t enough cute things down here on earth. So He made me so that there would be more cutie-ness!”

She is rotten. And yet it is so true. God TOTALLY sent her just for that 😉

Happy Tuesday!

Halloween 2016

We have had the most eventful Halloween week in the history of all our Halloweens. Last week was such a whirlwind that I still feel hungover from all the sugar and events.

On Thursday Rory had her first ever field trip! Now. Let me just say, they could seriously load those kiddos up and drive the bus around for about 30 minutes and they would have been so dang happy. Rory was BESIDE HERSELF with excitement because of getting to ride the bus.

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We headed to the pumpkin patch and Rory had an absolute blast! I love getting to see her interact with her school friends and teachers. She is such a mess.

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I’ll tell you what– I never pictured myself being the mom that loved to go on field trips and volunteer at the girls’ schools, but it turns out I really, really love it.

Last week was especially fun because I got TWO girls’ nights and I mean… come on. It doesn’t get better than that!

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I can’t even tell you how thankful I am to have girlfriends in Cleveland now. It is so nice to get out of the house and nothing is better than two nights in a row!

On Saturday we slept in for the first time in I don’t know how long and we were able to get the house clean and ready for our Halloween Party! Our church normally does a big festival but this year they decided not to do it this year so we invited our Sunday School class over for a party. Our neighborhood is a huge trick or treating place so we took our kids out and then came back to eat. The kids had THE best time. In fact, Ryder won’t stop talking about how it was the best day she has ever had. Most everyone, even the adults, dressed up and it was just so much fun. I can’t wait until next year!

The girls really wanted me to go as Ursula at first but I had to draw the line and say no. We had a lot of suggestions but finally they settled on their current favorite movie- 101 Dalmatians. So Andy was Roger, I was Cruella and the girls were puppies. It was a lot of fun getting dressed up with them.

IMG_8558 IMG_8561 IMG_8551 IMG_8522 Here is the best group shot I got! 12186735_10100398360410006_4769489349576327621_o

Sunday afternoon I took the girls’ picture in front of a school here in town that is always gorgeous in the fall. Then yesterday the same picture from a year ago showed up on my facebook “on this day” and BASICALLY I HAD A SOB FEST, OKAY?!

IMG_865811666256_10101947251833776_685833017560260922_nI mean listen…. it was just yesterday that all my pictures looked like this-

IMG_8659And now suddenly my kids are almost 6 and 4 1/2. HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!

Side note:
That moment a kid toots and you ask who did it… should’ve known….IMG_8601

So basically I have had the hugest baby fever in all of the land for the past few days. And then God comes down just when I think I can have another one and whispers to Rory at 3am, “Wake up, my child, and remind your parents why they never had a third baby.”

Baby fever has left until the next time facebook breaks my heart with a picture of tiny babies. And then it’ll be over again when Rory wakes up yet again in the middle of the night and I realize OH HECK NO.

Happy Tuesday, my friends!

just happy to be alive

I feel the need to start off this blog post by saying….

I just absolutely adore going into bathrooms around the house every single day and finding a huge log of sh crap in the toilets.

IT NEVER FAILS, PEOPLE. I just walked into the “powder room” downstairs and there it was. A log so big I gasped because I felt like maybe Ryder was lying somewhere in the house in pain because there is just no way that came out of that tiny girl without causing damage.

Then I came upstairs to work on the computer and ran into the girls’ bathroom and gasped again because there was another giant log sitting in the toilet.

NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I SAY IT, MY PRECIOUS CHILDREN WHO ARE “LADIES” NEVER, EVER, EVER FLUSH THE DANG TOILET.

I just cannot understand it. I’m guessing they are just so impressed with the size of their dumps they feel the need to bless me with the knowledge of it too?????

Moving on.

I’m assuming I’ve lost all readers by now. If not, I will post some cute pictures of my naughty children to get the image of crap sitting in the toilet waiting to be flushed out of your heads.

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Since school started in August I feel as though I haven’t had a single moment to catch up with life. Our weeks are busy with school and soccer and church and our weekends are full of soccer, church, and other fun activities that are always going on. Fall is so busy with festivals and parties and hootenanny and I love every second of the fall fun.

Saturday we had a game at 9:00am and it was so stinking cold. I think because it was the first real cool snap of the season it made it even colder because we just aren’t used to that nonsense yet. Only 5 players came to the game and we play 4 players at all times so you can imagine that it was tough on the girls because they basically played the entire game. They still did so good and had a blast. Ryder was FOR SURE ready for it to be over about 5 minutes into the game though, ha!

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This would be Rory giving Ryder a pep talk… approximately 100 of these took place.

This Saturday will be the last game and I’m honestly so sad the season is ending. We have enjoyed Upward Soccer so very much and can’t wait to do it again next year.

After the soccer game we went straight to Aldi to grocery shop because we literally had NOTHING. Our cupboard was bare. We had plans to go to a pumpkin patch, an apple festival, a birthday party, a football watching party, and another birthday party……

Well. Once the grocery shopping was done we got home and the girls immediately put their warm, comfy pjs on and I took that as a sign to do the same. So I texted all the people I needed to and said, “I’m so sorry but I just can’t. I cannot even do anything but lounge in my pjs today. We are wiped and we just can’t.”

It was pretty much the best decision I’ve made in the past month. So Saturday we stayed in our pjs (and the girls also played dress up a time or two) all day. We watched movies and played games and *gasp* played with our toys. I mean, WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT?! We also cooked and baked and the girls were the perfect helpers!IMG_7507

Staying home for a day was so terribly needed.

Also, I took a four hour nap. HALLELUJAH AND AMEN.

Sunday was a really, busy day though! We went to church and our sweet Rory girl sang in church. She was so dang cute up there in the choir loft with the other kids. Let me tell you something- there is absolutely NOTHING on earth more precious than seeing your child worshipping the Lord. I know I sound like a granny when I say that but I don’t even care. At one point she even raised her hand for a second because she was so into it. Rest assured, I cried my eyes out watching her sing with all her heart.

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Rory is second row in the very middle.

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Sunday night we had a Sunday School pumpkin carving party. I gotta say, y’all, I stinking love our SS class. There is nothing quite like having people in the same stages of life with you encouraging you and making fun of you when you need it. It took a while to find the class but I’m so glad we held out and waited until we found the perfect fit.

We all four had a blast and the pumpkins never looked better. These people take it seriously and bring drills and the like. Gone are the days of a dull kitchen knife, I will never carve a pumpkin the same again!

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I mean, Ryder takes eatin’ seriously and there is nothing more serious than the first bite of a s’mores.

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Unfortunately I have had a migraine this week that just won’t quit. In fact, I’ve had this stupid headache for two weeks- some days are just a nagging, dull headache while others have me physically ill and unable to get out of the bed. There is nothing worse than a migraine, y’all. I have a new appreciation for my mom each time I get one (not that often) because my mom suffered years and years with migraines and still took care of us.

Yesterday I let the kids dress themselves because my head was killing me and we were running late. Bless it.

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Today I was awoken at 5:07 am by a little squirt bounding into my room with much gusto declaring, “I AM JUST HAPPY TO BE ALIVE, MAMA!”

Okay. Good for you. GO BACK TO BED.

Now, obviously that didn’t happen because Ryder was so excited for her school day and couldn’t possibly go back to sleep. She was rushing Rory and Andy out the door by 6:30… and hour too early. Today was Pumpkin Patch Day at her school and I got to go and be with her for it which was so much fun. We absolutely love her school and are so sad that this is the last year they will be a school. I’m talking TEARS HAVE BEEN SHED. Ryder’s teacher is the same one Rory had and she has been such a light to my girls and has made such a lasting impact on our family.

We took a hayride and Ryder played games and got her face painted.

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Mrs. Janice leading the prayer. Gah, y’all- I just teared up again looking at this picture.

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Now, I would like to show you the following images to let you know just how serious Ryder is when getting her face painted. We were all cracking up because she kept giving the lady a side eye like, “Woman if you mess up I will CUT YOU.” IMG_7843 IMG_7842 IMG_7839

Oh, Ryder. Her faces are priceless and always make my day.

I’m so glad we took that break this past Saturday because our weekends and weeks are CRAZY from now until Christmas. I mean, I am already exhausted just thinking about it.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Easter 2015

For the first time in probably our entire marriage, Andy got off for Good Friday. He so rarely has a long weekend and we were just so excited about it.

Friday we decided to head to IKEA in Atlanta to look for/measure/price furniture for the new house. I mean, who really needs an excuse to go to IKEA though? I would have gone whether we needed a few things for the house or not. Traffic was pretty insane and it took us about double the time to get there but whatever. I had a goal in sight.

The girls thought all the faux rooms were the best thing ever in the history of ever. They touched every single thing and jumped on every chair, bed, and couch.

Then we realized that they had a children’s area where they could go for 45 minutes and play while we shopped. HAVE YOU PEOPLE EVER HEARD OF THIS?!

We are lucky because there are two of them and they have no qualms about us leaving them so they were so excited when we showed them the play room. And then Andy and I walked around and actually shopped for 45 minutes AND IT WAS ABSOLUTE BLISS. Like I can’t even tell you how fun that was for us. The girls cried when we picked them up and we thought we had won the lottery discovering this mini-daycare in the IKEA. I mean. As if I couldn’t love the store more, now they go and throw this at me and I’m all LET US GO TO IKEA EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.

On our way back from Atlanta we stopped at an outlet mall because, NEWSFLASH: Rory has grown approximately 2 feet in the last 6 months. No joke, girlfriend woke up bigger one day I swear it. Seeing as Rory is extremely hot natured, we figured she needed some shorts in her life since it seems that spring is finally here to stay. *knock on wood*

If there is ever a time in my life where I realize men don’t grasp real life it is when clothes shopping for the children.

After getting two pairs of shorts and two short-sleeved shirts, Andy deemed Rory’s spring wardrobe complete…..

This is not a joke.

He literally said, “Well she should be good for a while now.”

And I’m over there looking at him with the ultimate Chloe face like, “whaaaaaaaaa?! how do you even figure? did Dave Ramsey put you up to this?!”

So, if you see Rory in the same two outfits on repeat this spring, you now know why.

BLESS.

Saturday we went to an Egg Hunt with the SS class we have been going to at church. We had a blast!

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After dinner Saturday night we made Rice Krispie Eggs and Crosses which the girls thought was the best thing ever. I love this stage they are in where we get to do so much more and they can help with all the fun.

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After the girls were in bed, the Easter bunny hopped on by and left the girls a few goodies. We got the chairs at IKEA for their new rooms so we just went ahead and threw those in there too.

IMG_4945FullSizeRender 3The girls love their chairs and little animals they got.

I also decided that from now on one of their Easter gifts is going to be their new Easter dresses. Both girls were so excited when they saw them. Ryder probably more than Rory which was a shocking turn of events. The entire morning she walked around curtseying and pretending like she was Princess Sophia.

After church Sunday morning (which was packed and so good!) we took them to get some pictures. My real camera died about 3 minutes into the whole thing and the girls pretty much have decided they don’t want their picture taken ever. So it was fun! I’m glad I waited until being refreshed at church to attempt this. ha!

IMG_0351IMG_0359IMG_0363IMG_0364IMG_036811136742_10101642860172106_6517580226289659467_neasterMy favorite pictures are the ones where the girls aren’t even trying to smile though. They got so tickled over something together and couldn’t stop giggling. Their friendship and love for each other is the greatest thing I’ve ever been able to witness in my life. I pray it never changes.

IMG_0371 IMG_0372There is just absolutely nothing like a sister.

My friend Amber invited us to have Easter with her family so we drove to Chattanooga to have a feast. I know I’ve said this a million times, but I’m so thankful for Amber’s friendship and for her family who has invited us so many times to come to their get togethers. IMG_5049The kids hunted eggs and played in the mud. Or maybe actually only Rory played in the mud…

Then we played kickball and I don’t want to brag or anything, but our team won. Andy’s didn’t. Just putting that out there.

Rory was ALL ABOUT kickball. She ran all over trying to get the ball.

You should also know that she now refers to herself as “Rory the Rocket” because she runs so fast.

She’s so humble.

But in the most shocking, miraculous news of all- Ryder played kickball.

As in, she ACTUALLY PLAYED KICKBALL, Y’ALL.

She ran. She kicked. SHE DID NOT COMPLAIN. HER LEGS WORKED THE ENTIRE TIME.

In case you are as shocked as we were, let me say it one more time…..

Ryder.

Played.

Kickball.

If people don’t believe in miracles after that statement, I don’t think they will ever be convinced.

And guess what mom failed to document Ryder’s venture into an unknown world called sports related fun….. SIGH. I’m so mad at myself. It is the price you pay when you’re trying to win.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! I’m so thankful to have the Hope of Jesus every single day. I cannot imagine my life without that comfort and peace.

 

 

is it still the spring break?!

Ryder has had a hard time grasping the whole Spring Break thing this week.

About every 10 minutes she runs to me and excitedly asks, “Is it still the spring break?!”

Bless.

I will admit that I wasn’t exactly looking forward to spring break. But as it has turned out, we have had a really awesome week. The weather has been GLORIOUS every single day and we have spent 99% of our days outside. AND NOTHING IS BETTER THAN THAT, MY FRIENDS.

Bonus perk to spring break: Andy’s parents came in for a too quick trip and the girls got to stay in a hotel with them and swim and play until they were tuckered out. And I got a night of sleep! WINNING!

The only downside is that my children, especially Rory, have woken up too early every single morning. And Rory has HAD to do some sort of “homework” several times a day. Ryder just wants powdered donuts and a nap.

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Rory has also practiced the art of filling in her brows.

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Before we move on, I would like to give you a little flashback to Rory on spring break (or just in spring) circa 2011. WHERE DID MY CHUBBY BABY GO?!

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Spring Break 2015 started with a bang at Benton Falls last Saturday where we hiked a total of 3 miles and almost killed our children in the process.

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LEGS OFFICIALLY DON’T WORK.

IMG_4240You were wondering who was hiking with us????? Yes??? Oh no big deal, just like 40 nuns.

THAT’S RIGHT PEOPLE, WE HIKED WITH NUNS.

IMG_4225 IMG_3997Never know what you’re going to find when you are with the Harris family.

Monday we went to the Chattanooga Zoo with my friend Amber and her boys Will, Thomas, and Lucas. Will and Rory have gotten to be big buds and it is SO CUTE. They just all of a sudden grew up so much.

IMG_4370 IMG_4377 IMG_4375Wednesday we went to the park for a bit and then we all took a 3 hour nap. OH YES WE DID.

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Thursday we were invited by a new friend in our new SS class to come dye Easter eggs! The girls had the best time ever and I had a great time getting to know a new friend.

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Today we finished out Spring Break ’15 with a girls day out to a movie and shopping at the mall. (DON’T WORRY DAVE IT WAS ONLY WINDOW SHOPPING, OKAY?!)

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Let me just tell you- this stage of life is 99% of the time A DELIGHT. I never thought I would get to the day where I could take the girls by myself to go see a movie at the theater and enjoy every second.

I mean I literally teared up at one point in the movie when I glanced over at them watching Cinderella with wide eyes and little grins. My beautiful, fun girls. I’m so thankful for this stage of life.

So here is a note to moms of littles that are close together- soon you will be able to enjoy that they are close and have so much fun with them. I promise. If I can make it you certainly can!

I have to say. I’m actually sad for spring break to be over! But at least this gave me encouragement for how fun summer will be! I am so looking forward to pool days and fun in the sun!

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

Wilderness at the Smokies | Rory’s birthday weekend

Winter birthdays are hard because you have to have an indoor party. And the cost of finding a place big enough for a party and then supplying everything for the party ends up being $200++++ depending on how big you go.

So I made the executive decision that THIS year we would take a little overnight trip instead. We had planned for years to take Rory to Disney on her 5th birthday, but life happens and you move and just can’t swing it. It happens, right?!

After a lot of discussion over where to go, Andy and I decided on Wilderness at the Smokies. It is a resort and indoor water park.  There were so many fun things to do other than the water park too- they have a ropes course, playground, arcade, mini golf, bowling, laser tag, and more I can’t remember. They also have restaurants at the resort so you don’t even have to leave ever. We absolutely loved it. Every single one of us. I can’t say enough great things about the weekend there. The room was great and every other accommodation was great too. We can’t wait to go back! The best part? We spent less than we would have on a party and had zero stress. WINNING.

I just have to say that Rory mastered every single attraction. She did such an awesome job  on the ropes coarse and went down every slide. She also did so good on the surfer thing (I have no idea what it is actually called). I was so proud of her and her determination to do everything she could without fear!

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I got a lot of a video and a few pictures. But mostly I just PLAYED with the girls and put my phone and camera away for most of the trip. It was WONDERFUL. Enjoy the video!

(Side note: we had planned to go to Dixie Stampede with Rory and her new “Dolly Partner” dress but we ended up going THE ONE WEEK they take a break in the year. Guess we will have to go back and take her another weekend!)

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the vacation(s) recap post.

There are a few things you should know.

1) IT IS FREAKING COLD. I just want y’all to know this because I know no one on earth is talking about it. I feel I should break the silence.

2) I have the worst case of vacation hangovers ever in the history of ever.

No but seriously. This morning Rory asked me if I would ever wear nice clothes again. Bless her heart.

But here’s the deal. Its freaking cold and I don’t want to get out of sweats because I can’t get over my tired from vacation.

The funny thing about it is that we got a decent amount of sleep and I even slept in a few days at the end of vacation. Shocking, right? Andy and I had a system though and it worked out well for both of us.

Let’s rewind here and do a little recap.

After a few glorious days at home over Christmas, we loaded up and headed for the beach. One of my best friends, Misty, and her husband recently got a beach house in Gulf Shores and graciously invited us and three other families to join us.

I’m going to be real honest, I was a bit worried about the trip. Five families (one I had never met before) in one house. 12 kids under the same roof. That sounds like INSANITY, doesn’t it people?!

Let me tell you something.

It was a stinkin’ blast. Those kids played SO WELL together. I mean, we barely broke up a single “fight”. The house was big enough for everyone to sleep and the living space is so well laid out that we didn’t feel on top of each other AT ALL. In fact, when we were inside, we barely saw the kids. They went off and did their own thing in the loft areas.

It was pretty much the best vacation of my life. I know that is a strong statement, but seriously. Cassidy, Kayla, and Misty are seriously my sister wives. They are the kind of friends you wait your whole life hoping you get lucky enough to have. They know my worst and, hopefully, my best and they still love me. Well. They better still love me. To get to spend a week with them and their husbands who I love too (don’t tell them though) was a dream come true. You know it is so rare to find friends that you honest to goodness love their spouses just as much. I have had plenty of friends that their spouses weren’t my favorite or that Andy would never be friends with. Basically what I am saying is, I won the stinkin’ lottery with these friends. I won’t ever get over being thankful for them. Then we threw another couple that I had never met before but instantly fell in love with too and it was just the best week of life.

I mean I wish I could tell you we did something insanely excited at the beach but…. actually no. I don’t wish that. Because I stayed in my pjs and *GASP* didn’t wear hardly any makeup for the entire vacation and OH MY GOSH IT WAS AMAZING. We sat out on the porch in our pajamas and watched the kids play in the sand. The craziest thing we did was play Heads Up after the kids were in bed and I may or may not have almost peed my pants from laughing. I also may or may not have pulled a muscle demonstrating break dancing. It was pretty epic.

I made a little video to put a bunch of pics and little clips in one place- here it is:

It was the saddest day ever having to leave. I held it together until I got in the car and then I cried like the baby I am when it comes to leaving my besties. It is just so hard because there is never any indication when I will see them next and it just makes me so sad. Andy and I seriously say all the time that if Texas would’ve been 4 hours closer to home we wouldn’t have ever moved. He loved his job there and I loved every single thing about Texas EXCEPT that it was just so far away from all our family. I am constantly trying to convince the girls they need to move closer to ME. ha!

From GS we headed to Gatlinburg to spend a few days with Andy’s family. It was a nice trip and we had a lot of fun. The girls obviously loved being spoiled by his family and all the attention of the aunts and uncles and grandparents. We played a ton of putt putt (and learned that Ryder is a putt-putt prodigy with EIGHT total hole-in-ones over three games) and walked about a hundred miles shopping while we were there. Rory was in heaven with all the signs of “Dolly Partner”. I think for her birthday we will have a Dolly Parton party. Her life would be made. Here are a few fun pictures from the trip:

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Andy and I had a plan that while in GS I would take care of the kids more and let him relax more and in Gatlinburg he would let me sleep in and relax more. It was the perfect plan and we both felt like we had the most relaxing two vacations in history. Teamwork at its best, people.

Let me tell you something else about the past few weeks.

Andy had off 13 total days. Since we have been married that has never happened, ever. I’m going to be brutally honest here…. I was worried about it. I thought “oh dear lord we are gonna be so sick of each other on day 3”.

But let me tell you what actually happened. Instead of getting tired of each other, we tag teamed SO well and had the most fantastic 13 days of our marriage probably. I’m not even kidding y’all about this. You know I wouldn’t lie to you. If it was awful I would tell you.

The first five days were spent at home and these were the days I was worried about the most. I am so used to be home alone that it is hard for me to break our routine and have someone else in the mix with me and the girls for so long. Andy stepped up to the plate though and helped me. We BOTH relaxed and took turns handling things with the kids. I was almost sad to leave and go on vacation because we were having such a great time together and with the girls. Then we headed on two different vacations and tagged teamed again and BAM best 13 days in history. Also, there isn’t much better for marriage than long car rides to get to talk and laugh together.

The day he went back to work I literally cried. (Shocker. I mean I never cry or anything.)

He got home from work that first day and said, “I missed you today!” as soon as he walked in the door and I cried again. Because Andy is not a talker (understatement) and is not mister “let me express my emotions ever”, so when he walked in and immediately said that it just melted my little heart more than anything he’s ever said. I had missed him all stinkin’ day and was so glad to be missed as well. I’ve missed him every single day this week and am longing for the weekend.

And now it is horribly cold and I feel bad even complaining because I have friends in NEGATIVE degree weather. But it makes for a hard time doing ANYTHING other than hunkering down under some covers and watching TV. The problem with that is the fact that I have children who have the nerve to want me to feed them and play with them and mother them. The little savages.

Hope y’all had a great holiday and are staying warm. Andy is working 90% of his days outside right now and I feel insanely sorry for him and anyone else out in the cold all day. I feel a pot of taco soup coming on, what about y’all?!

Happy Thursday!

 

Christmas Letter 2014

As cliche as it might sound, I honestly cannot believe the year 2014 is almost over.

This year has been such a whirlwind, wonderful year.

We started out the year in Savannah, enjoying being so close to family and enjoying our life there. I absolutely loved my job and Andy was working hard at his. He had a few calls about other jobs but quickly turned them down because we loved our house and our proximity to grandparents and other family. Then one day he gets a call and the job seemed way too good to be true. One month later from the initial call Andy started his new job. What a whirlwind! We have so loved Cleveland and East Tennessee. I tell Andy almost daily I don’t know if I will ever get used to living somewhere so beautiful.

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Andy– What a year he has had, y’all. I couldn’t be more proud of him. This year has been the biggest year of growth for him in his career and he has worked so hard. The promotion he got was something we weren’t expecting so early in his career but he deserves it more than anyone I know. As we all know, Andy’s not much of a talker, but as far as I know he absolutely loves his job. I know his boss is very good to him and I know that he seems a million times happier. His job is always going to be stressful and crazy busy, but it isn’t weighing him down at all times like it was before. No one is more thankful than I am for that!

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Rory– I think out of all of us, Rory has had the most growth this year. She struggled through school last year and lost a lot of confidence in herself in the process. The move was hard on her, she remembers every.single.thing. so she had a hard time missing her friends and grandparents. She also is very attached to “things” and she most definitely struggled with missing her “yellow house”. It was a very big adjustment for her. About a week after we moved here, I started Rory in a PreK program that is affiliated with a church. We hadn’t had the best experience with that in the past, but I prayed long and hard over where to send her and kept coming back to this particular school. God directed us there because, y’all, that girl has flourished. Rory’s confidence is back and soaring. She has learned so much it is actually shocking to me. Tears are falling as I’m writing this just thinking about how far my precious girl has come from last year. Gone is the girl who comes home from school saying, “but I just want to be a good girl”. Thank you, Jesus, for answering our prayers for a wonderful teacher and school. Rory is such a strong-willed, smart girl and I know teachers make all the difference with her. I will be praying non-stop for her teacher selection each and every year so she can continue to flourish like she has this year. As you know, her fashion sense has flourished as well. She absolutely cracks me up with her need to have the right outfit and how much she thinks it out. Nothing about the process is vain, its just a very well planned and thought out process for her (as is everything in her life). She is so her father’s daughter because she has that engineer brain, but even fashion is math and a project to her. She gets a measuring tape and measures her self and then her clothes to see which thing would fit the best. I mean COME ON. No one taught her to do this, she just found a sewing measuring tape and has been doing it ever since. My heart swells with love and pride for my sweet Rory Eve. I’m so glad this has been a year of rescue for her. And I truly mean that.

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Ryder– Ryder is my free-spirit. I can’t tell you how many times a day Andy and I will say, “oh she’s in Ryder world.” It is so funny to watch her. Every day we drop Rory off at school and every day we get home and Ryder goes straight to her room. She LOVES being alone with all their toys. She plays alone all morning, even going so far as to say “mom get out I don’t need you!” after I check on her. I love to listen to her talking to herself or playing with Barbies and making them talk. I have never seen a child so imaginative, but apparently my sister, Telena, was that way too. Ryder hasn’t had as hard of a time with the move, but I think it IS because of her “Ryder world” and of course because she is younger. She is every bit of a threenager and we have certainly struggled with that, but because I just had a threenager in Rory and now see how precious Rory is at almost five, I feel like I can survive Ryder. It is challenging and we are looking into her possibly going to Rory’s school for a few days a week to have more structure. We shall see. I personally wouldn’t mind having some time to think and get things done without worrying what Ryder was going to get into that day. Ha! I can’t wait to see how Ryder continues to grow and learn new things every day.

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As for myself, I have had a wonderful year of growth as well. I feel like I started the year in a drought and am now coming out of that. I absolutely loved my job in Savannah and miss it all the time, but I have enjoyed this time at home with the girls. I’ve been trying to work on blogging more and have really gotten into loving makeup (which sounds juvenile) and the whole process of how it can make you feel like a whole new person. I’m really enjoying the apartment more than I thought I would, which goes to show that “attitude is everything”. It is cozy and I could definitely go for 2 bathrooms instead of one, but I do really love it. It is easier to maintain and I love the layout. You all know how much I love to make my home beautiful for my family and I think that even in the apartment I’ve done a good job at that. Since we finally sold our house in Texas, I do get excited about starting the process to find our first home here in Cleveland in the next few months. I’m hoping I can convince Andy that we need to go for a project house and have lots of remodeling and ripping down walls and making it into our own. I will say that ending this year knowing it is my last full year in my 20s has thrown me for a loop just a bit. I never thought I would be feeling this way, but I am a little sad. At the same time, I’m hoping my 30s are more settled and I feel that they will be. I hope that my 30s bring me finding the courage to finally go after my dreams of maybe writing that book I have always wanted to write. I’m hoping my 30s bring me friendships here that are mature and honest and real. I’m hoping they bring me more growth as a wife and a mom.

We have surely been blessed this year. I’m immensely grateful for the gifts God has given us this year. Big changes are always hard, but I feel like moving here rescued us in a lot of ways. We have all grown and changed in many ways. I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings us.

Thank you for being such a huge part of my year. I love every single one of you who reads the blog so much.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and I can’t wait to show pictures and video of our Christmas as well.

Tiffany