Category: Holidays

a simple, magical Christmas

I was in the living room folding clothes the first day we were back from Thanksgiving when I heard it; the first sign of the magic of Christmas in the girls’ voices.

Rory: Ryder! Did you know that Santa is coming soon? We don’t have a chimney but mom will leave the door open for him!

Ryder (much gasping and expression in her voice): NO! Is it SO SOON?! Did you know, Whoa-wy, that Santa is going to park them reindeers right on the balcony outside?!

And on and on it went, one imaginative story after another. It must have went on for 30 minutes.

The best part? I have barely talked to them about Santa other than confirming he will be coming and singing the typical Christmas songs. They are just making all these fun things up on their own.

What’s even more magical? Hearing them talk, on their own, about the birth of our Savior. They love to play with the nativity set and they love to talk about the angel and the star and “that baby Jesus who was so sweet all wrapped up in waddling clothes”. I mean, does it get any more precious than that?

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Rory said a prayer the other night before bed and it went something like this: “Dear Lord, thank you for this day and everything you gave us. Thank you for Christmas and for sending Jesus to live in our hearts. He is a precious gift. We love you and Amen.”

Tears. I couldn’t even open my eyes, I was so humbled.

Because I’m going to be honest, I’ve had a few weeks of being a butt in my heart and mind about Christmas. I have missed my house in Savannah. My beautiful yellow house that I’ve dreamed about my whole life and just, literally, fell into our laps at an amazing price. It was so easy. It was so gorgeous. It had everything I had ever wanted.

And here I am in our “800 square feet of fun” with no room for my giant tree that fit like a dream in our old house.

WHAT. A. FREAKING. BRAT.

Sometimes I’m just appalled at myself. What is wrong with me?! I mean, seriously.

When I finally got over my ungrateful, wretched behavior, I got out our “half tree” (yes, it is only HALF a tree- completely flat on one half) up and decorated.

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And I fell madly in love with the simplicity of it.

It is decorated with the ornaments we get every time we go on a trip and all our “first” ornaments- first Christmas engaged, first Christmas married, babies first Christmases. These ornaments that show of our lives together as a family, before and after children.

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Instead of decorating the entire apartment from head to toe, the girls and I put a few simple decorations. For a change, I put out decorations they could actually touch and play with. I mean. WHAT A SHOCKER. Can you even fathom your children living in your home and getting to touch the beautiful things that make Christmas so magical?!

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They were giddy over it. I was giddy over it. It took me an hour to put everything up and it’ll take the same to take down. Isn’t that a relief?!

When I saw and felt how delighted I was in the simplicity of my tree and decorations I started to crave simplicity in the entire season.

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We have had a big, complex year. Though this move was something we have dreamed of as far as location and promotions for Andy goes, it has also been the hardest as a family. Seeing your child miss their friends and cry over being farther from grandparents is harder than I could’ve ever imagined. It has just been an emotional experience for us.

So, I took a long, hard look at the things that always stress me out and make me forget what Christmas is really about. The things Andy and I argue about. The things that we need to financially cut out and put towards more important things.

There was one thing that I kept going back to that met all of the above stresses: Christmas Cards.

This one was a hard pill to swallow. It took me a long while to become rational. I mean, what would Christmas be without getting a card from us this year?!

In the end, I knew it had to be the first thing to let go.

Because I’m a crazy person, I stress HARD over that perfect Christmas card. I stress over the fact that they need to be PERFECT. It would be horrible if I had a typo or *GASP* if someone else in my circle picked the same card. And don’t even get me started on my perfect handwriting for the envelopes- I am an insane person when it comes to this part of the cards. Also, I have NO CONTROL when it comes to sending the cards. I can’t cut people off the list. It is just too hard for me. Last year I spent SIXTY EIGHT DOLLARS on Christmas cards BEFORE postage. HECK TO THE NO NO NO NO NO NO. I simply just COULD.NOT. do that this year. Could not.

So the first thing I cut this year was the beloved/stress-me-the-heck-out Christmas card.

Instead, we are going to be spending the money I always spend on Christmas cards to give a child presents she wouldn’t get without someone “adopting” her this Christmas. I feel my girls need to experience that much more than they need to be on a card that people throw away at the end of the season.

We have also decided that we will be sending Christmas day here at home, just us four. We have travel plans the week before and after Christmas, but for three days it’ll be just us at home. Andy has off and we want to enjoy time together and let the kids actually enjoy their presents. We will not get out of our Christmas pajamas all day on Christmas. It will be amazing. 

I can’t wait to see how the girls’ imaginations continue to grow and all the ways we can help to make this season wonderfully significant for them, because Christ’s birth is just that- wonderfully significant.

I’m so looking forward to a simple, magical Christmas.

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*Feel free to save the above picture and print it out as our Christmas card. That was as much as I could do, and I even put a 5 minute timer on myself so I wouldn’t stress over it.

What are YOU doing to simplify the holiday season this year? I would love to know!

Ryder’s 3rd Birthday Party

Ryder’s birthday isn’t until Tuesday, July 1st, but we had her party this past Saturday. Since we have a pool, it is a given that Ryder will always have a pool party. ha!

I had a whole lot of ideas and GRAND PLANS for this elaborately decorated party. Then I realized- you know what? I am stinkin’ tired. And kids don’t care if there is a large gazebo made of beach balls, floats, and kiddie pools. They really don’t.

So I decided that I’d throw a few decorations up and CALL IT A DAY. It is amazing what well planned snacks and a couple of clever signs will do for a party, too. I mean- could it have been any easier or simple?!

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I think I have found my new calling in life. I mean. LOOK AT THESE CUPCAKES. You can’t get better than that.

(side note: I couldn’t find my cupcake stand so Andy had to go buy a cheap one at WalMart… all they had was hello kitty. whatever, walmart. you failed me again.)

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okay. maybe you can. hahaha! I have laughed so dang hard over these teddy grahams!

thanks, pinterest!

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Ryder got kinda teased when we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her and it was cute to see her shy since that is not something that happens often.

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When all the guests arrived it was POURING. I was starting to panick because what in the world do you do with toddlers/kids if the pool party gets rained out?

And y’all know I don’t do planned activities, so I was getting a little nervous. But we had cake first thing and by the time we were done it was sunny and perfect for the pool.

Addison – Ryder’s little BFF

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Cute James- he had the funniest faces!

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My little water bug, Rory

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Ryder was in heaven. She kept saying after the party was over, “I love fwimmin’ with my fwriends, Mom! Let’s do that again!”

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We actually got a couple of decent group pictures. Miracle!

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Caden was the the youngest one there, but one of the bravest for sure.

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Kaleigh Grace was so brave- jumped right off that diving board for the first time!

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Here Ryder and Addison were saying to each other, “I love your bathing suit” “Oh but I like YOUR bathing suit!” Sweet friends.

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Now I’m going to show you a montage of photos of Ryder jumping in the pool. Because, y’all know that this child is NOT adventurous. She is very “I will let my sister do the crazy stuff and I will encourage and laugh and think she is awesome and crazy”. But suddenly, mere weeks after she declared her legs didn’t work so she couldn’t ever swim and DON’T YOU DARE GET MY FACE OR HAIR WET EVIL PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, she has decided she loves to jump off the steps, head first, into the water.

She jumps off the steps and literally sticks her butt in the air and her face down in the water and she shakes her head around in the water before she pops up grinning EAR TO EAR. It is so hilarious and astonishing.

Let me show you because I know y’all aren’t believing me right now.

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I mean. COME ON. Is the booty up in the air not the cutest and most hilarious thing you’ve ever seen in your life?!

This final montage of pictures is called “Ryder Is Precious When Opening Gifts”.

With pretty much every single gift, she did this “OH MY GOSH THIS IS THE BEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN” face and it was so precious I couldn’t hardly stand it.

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She had the most fun and I can’t wait to celebrate her more tomorrow.

because of today.

We have had one horrible week. The things that have gone down, the actions of others, and health scares have just wrecked havoc on us.

I got a call on Wednesday morning from my mom and I could tell by her voice something had happened. I’ll never forget that same voice when she told me Sam had died. I got a chill over my entire body and braced myself for the blow.

It was T. She had heard something had happened to him and that he was at the hospital. She didn’t know what, but she knew I would want to know.

I immediately started to cry. I was so scared he was gone. So terrified I’d never see him again, never get a hug from him again. Never tell him I was proud of him again.

Thankfully, he’s okay. By the grace of God only is he still here, for more than just this week.

There are times I’ve been mad at him, and others very close to me who are in this same boat, for putting the people who love him through this. For being so selfish.

But I’m over that. Now I’m just so sorrowful that because of some wrong choices, he will forever live with this demon.

Not saying he can’t be completely healed, I know God can work that miracle, but he will always have it in his mind. Always have to fight the desire to go back.

And honestly, aren’t we all the same way?

My parents and sisters and cousins and aunts (well, apparently everyone) tell stories of how I used to put my hand on my hip and say things like “what the hell?!” and “Damnit!” as young as 3.

Now, the stories really are hilarious and mortifying to my parents, I’m sure, to this day but I can’t help but think of it as the beginning.

You see, one of my biggest “addictions”, if you will, is my potty mouth. I’ve apparently always had it. I have such a hard time with it. You wouldn’t believe. I have trained myself to only say things out loud in front of people who I know won’t mind it (I guess? Who enjoys hearing foul language?) BUT my mind is always saying those words. All of them.

It is my sin that I deal with at all times. I’ve had years of no cursing and then I go back to it. Over and over I’ve done this.

So what is the difference?

.. for ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Romans 3:23

My foul language that causes me to be a stumbling block to others or to make my witness not mean as much is a sin just as much as a drug addiction.

I’ve really been thinking a lot this week about my sins that are every day struggles for me. I’ve been viewing my life from an outsider trying to see what they would see in me that was different.

And I’ve been brought to tears over and over again.

In tears over the people close to me who don’t know Him how I know Him. Possibly they haven’t seen His greatness enough in me. Sure they witnessed the miracles with Ryder, but since then? Nah. I’ve been in a funk. A negative place. A place that I cannot believe I’m in after all the goodness and peace and miracles I saw just over two years ago (and throughout my entire life).

But that’s how life happens. Just like the addict who runs back to drugs, alcohol, food, pornography, curse words, or whatever their sin is- I keep running away from God. I can’t seem to be able to sit still in His greatness. To abide in Him. I can’t seem to think I’m good enough for it so I use that as my excuse to go back. To go back to reckless behavior that affects those around me who don’t know Him. To go back (over and over again) to my mouth that spews words that are a hazard to my testimony and my witness.

Sin is sin. And no matter what it is, there is never a “too low” for Jesus.

And because of today on Good Friday, His grace covers EVERYONE. Every single one of us. His blood was shed so that we would never die. NEVER. We will live in eternity with Him, if only we accept His gift.

That means that nothing you or I can ever do will separate us. Absolutely nothing. Even if I run back to my foul mouth, I am still a child of God. He still forgives me over and over and over again.

Even if T runs back to his sin, God still forgives him over and over again. He forgave him before he ever took the first hit. Before the first bad decision that led him to where he is now, God had already forgiven Him.

Yes, as believers and Christians we should desire to live a holy life. But we all mess up. There would be no reason for Jesus if we didn’t. We all sin and fall short. But Jesus catches us and washes grace over us again and again.

I pulled an all-nighter with Ryder last night and I sang a lot of songs and prayed a lot of prayers.

I also had a realization again in my life that I’m forgiven. Jesus died for ME. Sometimes it is good to feel those butterflies again. To come to the place of realization for the 100th time that ME, the lowly sinner who has so many flaws and scars, has a Savior that loves me so much He died for me.

He did that for you, too, dear friends. You are never too far gone. Never. There is absolutely nothing you can do to separate yourself from God. He forgave you before you ever sinned.

Because of today, I can face tomorrow. I can face any sin and any storm, because He died for me and He rose on the third day to claim victory over my sins once and for all.

“But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” Acts 13: 37-39

Lyrics to Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone):

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine, will be forever mine
You are forever mine


 

 

 

Happy You’re A Failure Day

 

Y’all I am going to be really honest with you….

I hate Valentine’s Day.

LOATHE.

Valentine’s to me is National You’re A Failure Day.

No, but really.

Honestly, the whole day makes me irrationally angry.

Yesterday I was taking the girls to school and saw some of the most OUTRAGEOUSLY OVER THE TOP valentines and I threw up in my mouth a little.

I mean, seriously?! Seriously with the handmade monstrosities?!

Now I know some of you have the love language of stamping and scrapbooking and ALL OF THE CRAFTING and I’m not trying to hate on you….

But maybe if you could not flaunt your awesomeness so much and make the rest of us look like BIG OLE FAILURES?! K thanks.

Seriously though. I bought the $1 valentines at the Walmart and CALLED IT A DAY. My children are two and four. They just want to see a princess and a treat. They could care less how it is made or bought. I let THEM pick out their valentine cards at the store and THEY DELIGHTED IN THEM.

Then I get on the facebooks and the Instagram and Y’ALL ARE KILLING ME with your Pinterest Award Winning valentines.

KILLING ME.

In fact, I was so angry after logging onto Instagram and then taking the kids to school that I fell on the ice in the parking lot because I was angry walking so hard.

True story, y’all…. TRUE STORY.

I have great friends who are these women who go ABOVE IT ALL for Valentine’s Day and I love them dearly… but I also want to punch them in the face for making me look so bad. HA!

And let’s talk about the SHOW EVERYONE HOW PERFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIP portion of this National You’re A Failure Day.

Valentine’s Day is a made up day. I do think that guys should kiss their wives and tell them they love them and get some flowers (because seriously once a year is not going to kill you) and tell you that they would never want another Valentine.

And the women should shave their legs and their armpits and well, I feel like you are getting the picture here.

But really with ALL OF THE HUGE GIFTS?!

Let’s get real here.

Just because you get a good gift on Valentine’s Day does not mean you have the best relationship ever.

(I posted this on Andy’s wall today and I mean it with all my heart!)

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IT IS A LIE WE ARE BUYING INTO.

All these pictures of all of the gifts and all of the love are making me gag.

I love Andy so much it hurts but sweet mercy, it is VALENTINE’S DAY I do not expect him to suddenly change into the man only movies portray and give me diamonds and a car and a vacation to the moon.

THAT IS SETTING US UP FOR FAILURE. Every single woman out there that a) doesn’t have a Valentine for one reason or another or b) hates her Valentine right now because SOMETIMES THAT IS REAL LIFE is feeling like a big fat failure because of all the love fests going on.

GET A ROOM.

For the record, I’m not angrily typing this because Andy just happened to forget it was Valentine’s day and didn’t get me anything so I’m bitter. He actually got me some flowers that are so pretty and I feel so loved.

But he has also been working hard at making me feel loved more than just this one day. And to be honest with you, we had a crazy week and we were both NOT SO FUN to be around and not so nice to each other. So if I flaunted my flowers and all of the lovefest then that would be a big fat lie because it HAS NOT been a love fest this week.

So women who aren’t PINTEREST OF THE YEAR moms and aren’t loving your Valentine so much today- YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In fact, despite what Facebook and social media might tell you today, YOU ARE THE MAJORITY.

CAN I GET AN AMEN?!

The only thing that makes Valentine’s Day bearable now in my life are little girls with matching dresses. That is all I need.

PS- Rory in the first picture has made me laugh all day. We had a long night and well, she was having a hard time this morning with her attitude. Guess V-Day isn’t her holiday either 🙂

 

1601031_10101020523689406_1367824962_nAlso- if you need some encouragement today, read this post by Jen Hatmaker. – http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2014/02/13/to-those-for-whom-v-day-stinks

Happy You’re A Failure Day, y’all! Hope you can punch a wall or the air or something today to let out all your frustrations on the stupid people of social media!

 

 

 

 

FOUR. (a letter to Rory on her 4th birthday)

Oh, sweet Rory girl, HOW are you FOUR?! I don’t know why, but you should know that your mama has had a hard time keeping it together knowing that you turn four today. It just seems so big.

Actually, YOU just seem so big.

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See what I mean?!

Girlfriend, you crack me up each and every day with your clothing choices. You will FIGHT ME TO THE END on what you wear each and every day. There are days on end where I just throw my hands in the air and say, “WHATEVER GIRLFRIEND, go ahead and look homeless,” and then there are days when LAWD it is just so many kinds of wrong and we both end up in tears before you finally change your clothes. (For example, the other day it was 10 degrees and you had a sundress on with a swim suit underneath it with flip flops. No honey, no.)

But then, out of nowhere you will pick out an outfit and put it together like the one you chose today for your 4 year old pictures and I feel like maybe you have a future in design or some sort of art. You have this “eye” for things that are slightly off and you find beauty in it. It is one of my favorite qualities about you. Not to mention that you are an AMAZING drawer for your age.

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But on the opposite spectrum I wonder if you will be an engineer like your amazing dad, or a doctor or veterinarian or something where you have to be extremely smart. Because sweet girl, if there is one thing you should know about yourself it is that you have ALWAYS been amazingly brilliant. From the time you were a baby your dad and I have been amazed at your ability to problem solve.

Mix your crazy-smart brain and your tenacious spirit and well, the world should LOOK OUT because Rory Eve Harris is a force to be reckoned with.

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You are also so hilarious. You have such a dry sense of humor and it is surprising coming from a little girl. You are witty without trying to be and you say things that are SO hilarious without batting an eye or cracking a smile.

I don’t think I know of anyone on earth as observant as you. You take everything in and forget NOTHING. Sometimes this causes problems for your parents who try to be tricky, ha! And sometimes it seriously scares me that you will remember every single time I wasn’t patient with you.

You are also extremely curious. Lord have mercy. Sometimes I LOVE your curiosity and sometimes…. well… not-so-much. You tend to get into things and you are a GO BIG OR GO HOME type of girl, so when you get into something, IT IS A DOOZY. (For example, you and your sister EMPTIED an entire thing of Vicks and 5 tubes of lip gloss in about .5 seconds this week.) No matter what I do to try and hide things from you or lock doors or whatever else EXTREME measures, you use your mighty brain to figure out a way to whatever you want. It wears me out and makes me laugh all at the same time.

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Oh, Rory. On one hand I am just so sad you are turning four and on another hand I am SO GLAD. There have been times this year when I thought I was definitely ruining you and scarring you for life. I wasn’t always patient with you or understanding of your strong-willed nature. You tested me to my limits and I definitely didn’t respond well to those tests. I’ve heard that 3 is the hardest year and I am hoping that is true. I know that the past few months have shown me that things are getting MUCH easier so I am hopeful that I didn’t completely fail you. I worry every single day that I’m not equipped to raise a child as amazingly strong-willed as you. If it weren’t for the fact that I know God gave you to me specifically and knows the best for you and for me, I would be beside myself. I want you to know that I need grace from God every single day and you shouldn’t ever be afraid to fail because that same Grace is openly available to you too. I’ve been working hard to show you the Grace of God through my actions and though I’ve failed you in that regard more than once, I am trying so hard to show you grace more freely every single day.

And just so you know, I love that you are strong-willed. I honestly do because I KNOW that one day you are going to do amazing things because of your strong-willed nature, not in spite of it.

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Rory Eve, you should also know that you are stunning. You are just simply beautiful. Your big brown eyes, olive skin, and brown hair are the perfect combination. I love to snuggle with you in the mornings and just stare at your perfect face. Sometimes it makes me tear up because I cannot even imagine anyone more beautiful than you. I’m desperately clinging to these years of innocence with you because I am not ready for the years of insecurity and comparing yourself to others. I just want you to know that YOU are the most beautiful girl in the entire world.

My precious daughter, if you don’t listen to anything else your mother tells you, listen to this: You, Rory, are absolutely perfect in every single way. God made you EXACTLY the way you are because He has AMAZING plans for you. He has plans to use your tenacious and strong-willed spirit, your beauty, your brains, and your amazing sense of humor for His glory if you just let Him.

I love you so much Rory that I can’t even imagine a love more than I have for you and your sister. My days weave in and out between trying to let you flourish and reigning you in and guiding you to make good choices. I want you to experience the best things and always know that your potential in life is LIMITLESS. Truly limitless, Rory.

And no one on this earth is a bigger fan and supporter of you than me. I will love you NO MATTER WHAT, sweet girl. I promise to always try and guide you in the right path. I know I will fail you at times, but I promise to try my hardest to always do the very best for you. You won’t always like it, and I am okay with that. Just always remember that every decision I make is because I love you so fiercely.

You are the most amazing FOUR year old on the entire planet. I couldn’t love you more or be more proud of you.

Love You to Heaven and Back,

Mom

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Your 4th Birthday Stats:

– 3 ft tall and 30 lbs; you are now wearing mostly 4t clothing but (GASP) I have bought you some XS in the GIRLS department, size 9 shoe

– You love: your sister, “snuggle parties”, ballet, putting on “shows” for mom and dad

– Favorite Book: Go Dogs Go by Dr Suess (you can “read” the entire thing!)

– Favorite Songs: Hip-Hip-Potamus, Let It Go, Never Ever Back ‘Gether (oh yes, Taylor Swift)

– Favorite TV Shows: Sophia the First, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Doc McStuffins, Barbie: Life in the Dream House

– Favorite Movies: Frozen, Madagascar, Tinkerbell movies, The Croods, Wreck It Ralph

– Favorite Foods: cheese dip at the Mexican, broccoli, any fruit, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, SWEETS

Rory’s 4th Birthday Party

I know it has been a while since I’ve blogged, so what better way to end the break than with Rory’s 4th Birthday Party?!

As y’all know, Rory is a MORNING PERSON. Girlfriend wakes up early and enjoys the mornings. So I decided because that is her PRIME TIME OF LIFE I should most definitely have her party in the morning.

I stayed up late doing some of the decorations and watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony (duh) and I somehow ended up on the couch at about 5am this morning. I woke up to Rory rubbing my face saying, “Mom- you are amazing! You did all this?! You are magical, Mom! You are so wonderful!”

Now, y’all- that is pretty much the most wonderful way to wake up EVER.

Then as if I weren’t magical super mom enough, we look outside and it is SNOWING. I don’t want to brag, but me and THE LORD are tight and we had a talk about how I’d be the BEST MOM EVER if it snowed on Rory’s FROZEN themed birthday party day and well, HE CAME THROUGH, Y’ALL. HA!

Rory has declared this to be “the best day ever in her life” and I’m pretty sure she had an awesome time.

Enough talking, here are a few pics from the party! Now, y’all know I don’t take the best pictures and I tried to just enjoy the party and not overdo it on the picture front so you’ll have to excuse me on that part. I do hope you enjoy though!

The Birthday Girl in front of her cake (that you can’t see oops).

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Some of the decor. I feel like the pictures definitely don’t do it justice. Rory said it was a “frozen wonderland” so I’m going to pretend that I did an awesome job.

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The food! I typed up labels for all the food and TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THEM so dang, I had a fail for the day. We had cake (obvi), build your own snowmen treats, “ice”/aka blue jello, icey drinks, and “snowballs”/aka powered donuts.

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I got the cake at the local WalMart and y’all, it was GOOD. I’m pretty sure my girls and I have the same love language which is CHOCOLATE CAKE.

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Rory loved every single present. After everyone left she got them all back out and just stared at them in wonder. She said “I didn’t know everyone was going to give me so much! I just love my friends!”. PRECIOUS.

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We are just so thankful for Rory and especially thankful she has some wonderful friends who showed her so much love today. There is NOTHING that makes this momma happier than seeing her with her friends and knowing she is loved.

Mom and Dad love you so much Rory girl! Hope you had a wonderful day today celebrating your birthday!

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Rory’s official birthday post will come Wednesday on her actual birthday. We have lots of fun things in store!

Top Ten 2013

So I wanted to do a 2013 recap, but I haven’t blogged very well for at least half of this year so I thought I’d do a “Top Ten”. The following are not in any particular order really, just fyi.

Without further adieu – Tiffany’s Top Ten Favorite Things 2013

1. I’m pretty sure my most favorite moment of the whole year was our 10 year reunion. I had the best time planning and then playing. And I realized I never posted pictures! What is wrong with me?! Anyways! We had such a great time and I’m thankful for the people I graduated with because I truly (like for real, no lying) love each of them so much. As soon as we were all together it was as if no time had passed and I hadn’t seen most of them for over 5 years at least. I’m about to bombard you with pictures, just fyi. Also- you can see my giddiness x1000 in every pic. Not kidding, I had the absolute very best night with my friends!

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Group shots:

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Note Andrew in the middle holding the phone- John Michael was facetiming us! Ah, technology!

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Here we are with our significant others. Don’t even ask why I am standing like that. Goodness.

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Now here is where I proceeded to take a picture with every single person because I needed it for the blog. Problem is I didn’t realize there would be so many pictures to upload, HA! So here is a collage of me and all my fraaaands.

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Andy and I both had the best time. Thanks to all who came and we missed the ones not there!

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2. Our beach vacation as a family this summer. I’ve already written about it here so click on over and check out all the embarrassing stories and cute pictures.

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3. DotMom conference. Y’all I just loved my little weekend mom getaway so much. It was such a refreshing and encouraging weekend and I can’t wait until next year. And an extra bonus was that I got to see my aunt, cousin and grandmother and got to spend a lot of time with my friend, Amber!

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4. Tacky Christmas. My friend, Abby, hosted an ugly Christmas sweater party and Andy and I had the best time. I’m so thankful for this group of friends.

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5. All of the embarrassing moments with the girls/myself. They DID ME IN this year with embarrassing me, but I have never laughed so much in my life. Here are a few of my favorite stories (click to read)- Dog Food in the Car, 1st State game/Fondling Random Strangers, The Time I Shut Down the Church Movie Night …. there are so many more, but those are my favorite.

And also all of the hard days. Without the hard, how could we cherish the good? This year seemed like a constant fight (for Rory, for Ryder, for my marriage) but it was so worth it. I learned a lot about where my heart lies, especially as a mother.

6. Rory turned THREE and we had such a fun cowgirl birthday party for her. Definitely one of my favorite moments of ’13.

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7. Ryder turned TWO and we had such a fun You Are My Sunshine swimming party for her. I cannot believe my baby is two and a half now. So crazy! Her birthday party was definitely one of my very favorite things in 2013.

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8. DATE NIGHTS. Andy and I have had a stressful year, but we have also been able to have quite a few date nights thanks to grandparents willing to watch them. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that Andy’s parents are always so gracious to offer to keep them so we can sleep and how my parents sleep with them when we are there so we can sleep as well. These moments have so many times been my saving grace this year. And I am so thankful that Andy and I still love to go on dates with each other!

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9. Starting my new job. Y’all have no idea how much I love my job. Well, you probably do since I have talked about it so much- HA! The people I work with have become my family and I love every single one of them. I’m so thankful God placed me there and I know it was because of the people I am with every day. Morale is at an all time high around here because I have found something for myself that has boosted my confidence and self worth.

10. New and old friends. This year I have become friends with so many new people and I am so thankful God gave me friends in Savannah. And OH HOW I MISS my Texas, Mississippi, etc etc etc people, too. God has blessed me with such great friends. (Obviously there are A LOT of friends I don’t have pictures with this year. So this is in no particular order and clearly some of my dearest friends are missing!)

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And, of course, my sisters (and niece!). What would life be like without a sister? I can’t even imagine it. This year we have cried together, fought each other, and loved each other just like every other year. But something about this year has made me love them even that much more and appreciate them so much more. I can’t imagine my life without my sisters and I am so proud Tasha and Telena are mine. I’m also so proud of my niece, Jacy. I can’t even believe the woman she is becoming and I love seeing her flourish.

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It has been a wonderful, hard year and I am so thankful for every day of it.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL!

the Christmas He knew I needed

I remember going through the motions of a “weird” Christmas last year and thinking “this is not how I wanted it to go”. I was depressed and almost bitter watching everyone post all kinds of pictures of their kids in matching PJs, etc. I was so weary and had a bad attitude. Then I realized that I might not have intended Christmas to go that way, but God certainly did.

This year has been much different.

We found ourselves having Christmas this weekend with Andy’s family and my family. That left for an entire week AND Christmas with zero plans. At first it kinda bummed me out because I’ve never EVER experienced this. Then I realized the pressure was completely off and I could plan Christmas the way I wanted to.

Today we baked cookies, made Gingerbread Houses, watched movies, opened one gift, read the Christmas story and put the kids to bed in matching PJs. It is exactly as I have always dreamed and wanted to be.

Then it hit me- I didn’t plan this.

God knew exactly what we needed. He knew that with everything we are about to face with Ryder and the news of her having abnormalities on her spine show up on her X-ray last week that we NEEDED a break.

The peace and quiet and OH SO MUCH FUN as a family has distracted us from all the weight of just life.

The truth is- I am oh-so-weary. I am so exhausted with fighting and preparing and being an advocate for my miracle child. Not to say that I wouldn’t do it every single day for the rest of my life, don’t get me wrong here- but I am so tired.

When the doctor called last week to tell me the findings I fell on the floor and sobbed for an hour. We have no idea what is going on with Ryder’s spine- it could be something so small. But the news broke me down. I cried and cried and pleaded with God to JUST STOP IT ALREADY.

But God is always working on me, and I now have a peace and understanding that He knows what he is doing and has planned our lives according to His purpose. Nothing He does is an accident.

He has BLESSED me with a child who needs me to be her advocate. He entrusted me with such a special child- no special children– who need me to fight for them at all times.

So as we are celebrating this Christmas and only have plans to stay in our PJs and play with all our new toys, I will remember how weary Mary must have been with the weight of Jesus’ life in her heart and on her mind. I only know a tiny fraction of that weariness. I can’t even fathom what she went through her entire life.

This peaceful Christmas is exactly what God intended for us this year and I couldn’t be more thankful that He always knows exactly what we need and when we need it.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

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Christmas Letter 2013

 

Last year was a crazy Christmas- full of travel and fun and stress and hard times. It didn’t feel like Christmas last year for even a day. Everything about it just seemed off somehow. It just wasn’t the Christmas I intended.

This year we have had a much better time preparing and getting the girls excited and reading the Christmas story and talking about what that means. The girls are soaking up the story of Jesus’ birth and often act out the nativity scene. Ryder is so hilarious because she is ALWAYS the inn-keeper and she points her little finger and gives a mighty, “THERE NO ROOM FOR YOU IN DIS INN!” She takes her role seriously.

There has been a lot of joy in our house and it has been welcomed this year. Not to say that times aren’t sometimes tough around here, because they are, but we are actually quite enjoying this Christmas season.

I just now got my Christmas cards in, and of course couldn’t get everyone one which always makes me so sad. I had a hard time picking out our card this year because I knew that this year more than any other I wanted to make sure we weren’t depicting a falsehood about us.

So out were the cards that had a big ol’ PEACE written on it because this house hasn’t always been peaceful in 2013. (I could go on and on about this.) But I landed on one that said, “So Much Joy” and thought, yep- that is the one.

Not that we are always joyful, but if I could describe both girls I would definitely include the world joyful.

Sweet Rory is getting more mature and growing out of the baby stage more and more each day and she is such a delight. Still strong willed, but astonishingly wonderful after so many HARD years. She is so smart and eager to learn. She spells several simple words (Rory, Ryder, Mom, Dad, Cat, Dog, Baby) and I can’t even get over how her mind absorbs such things like this. I am treasuring this season with her and so thankful we survived ages 2 and 3.

And then there is Ryder. Sweet, precious Ryder…. who has turned into your typical 2 year old that pitches fits and all that jazz. While still precious, she is giving me a run for my money and completely exhausting me. She’s still my little miracle girl and just when we think health issues are getting answered and calming down, a whole new slew of concerns raise their ugly heads. Such is life with Ryder, but we are forever thankful for this blessed child. We stand strong because the Bible states in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So no matter what is coming our way with Ryder (or Rory or Andy or I) we know that God has dictated these circumstances with our best interest in mind far before we even existed.

It’s no secret (because I don’t want it to be- I want to be honest and real with all of you) that Andy and I have had a hard year. Nothing unbearable or earth shattering, but more of health issues/no sleep/having two mortgages/moving/etc have tapped away at both of us until we just were both weary at the same time. But God promises rest to the weary if we come to Him (Matthew 11:28) and we are finally entering a time of peace and rest. I am so thankful for every day with Andy. Even the hard days because I know those are the days that we survive and realize our marriage is always worth fighting for.

God’s grace has overwhelmed me this year, for I have not been my best. I have been, at times, negative and petty and selfish. But His grace has washed over me time and time again reviving me and reminding me that I am worth fighting for too.

So this year we have definitely had hard times, but oh how we have had joyful times. We are blessed far more than we deserve and I am so thankful for my biggest blessings- Andy, Rory and Ryder.

Thank you for reading the blog, I love you all so much!

I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas this year!

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what they don’t tell you about marriage

Yesterday was Andy and I’s 9 year anniversary.

I know what you are thinking- how could SHE be married for nine years? She’s much too young!

Ha.

Well, at just 18 years old I married a guy I was crazy about. He was 19 and handsome as could be (some things will never change).

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We were two skinny babies who had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

Sweet mercy, no no no we didn’t. We were blissfully unaware of the hardships and joys that came with marriage.

I remember the first year and remember feeling bad ALL THE TIME about myself and our marriage because IT WAS HARD and everyone kept commenting on how we must be experiencing “newlywed bliss”… and I all I could think was “IF THIS IS BLISS I CAN’T FATHOM WHAT HELL WOULD LOOK LIKE”.

Not saying it was hell necessarily, but well, some days were.

I thought something was way wrong with me because, quite frankly, sometimes I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into and if I wouldn’t have severely disappointed all those who loved us, I might have just ran away. (remember, I was only 19 our first year of marriage… aka I was dumb and selfish.) Plus, EVERYONE on social media that was married seemed to be so happy they couldn’t help but share their happiness every FIVE SECONDS on there and well, I kinda wanted to punch all of them in the face a little. Or a lot.

Each year after the first got a smidge better, but honestly it wasn’t until the fourth year that I finally could say I truly enjoyed being Andy’s wife. We had gotten through some severely hard times and I felt like we finally had made it to a place where we didn’t struggle constantly.

Not to say the past 5 years after that fourth year mark haven’t been hard because OH THEY HAVE at times, but we finally figured out how to fight better and finally became less selfish.

And that’s the thing they don’t tell you about marriage. It seems like it is either you are blissfully married or you are suddenly divorcing. No one tells you about the middle.

Andy and I decided a long time ago that divorce just was not an option for us. It just isn’t. And we have been through things that most wouldn’t make it through.

Only by the grace of God did we make it to 9 years.

And are we blissfully married now? Yes and no.

Yes- I love that man more than ever. Yes- I am so proud of him. YES- I cannot fathom my life without him.

No- marriage is still so hard. No- we are at a stage with young kids who tend to hate sleep and we take out our sleep deprived frustration on each other.

Yesterday Andy and I both gave each other cards. What the card writers said was sweet and sentimental, but it was what WE wrote to each other that was both funny and touching.

We both wrote a version of the same exact thing- “This wasn’t our favorite year of marriage. It wasn’t our hardest or our easiest. But I still wouldn’t have wanted to spend it without you. Here’s to a much better year where we try harder to love and respect each other.”

At first I laughed because we seriously wrote the same exact thing pretty much.

And then I found myself crying out of happiness that we still had so much hope and promise to make it better this year. We BOTH realized it wasn’t our best year and we BOTH are ready to tackle another year to make it much better than the last.

We are on the same page, and that is a good place to be.

Andy is my favorite blessing. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. Even the hardest years are better with him in it.

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