Home, Part 1

“Every day in each inch of space, each rhythm of time, each practice of love, we have the chance to join God in coming home, in living so that we make a home of this broken and beautiful world all over again. Love is enfleshed in the meals we make, the rooms we fill, the spaces in which we live and breathe and have our being.” 

~~Sally Clarkson, “The Life Giving Home”~~

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For as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a wife, a mommy, and a homemaker. I loved playing house when I was little, and even with my Barbies, it was all about their house and taking care of their home. And all throughout my years at home with my parents, the doors were always open, the island was always full of food, the pool towels were always being washed, and my friends were always welcome. my parents instilled a strong sense of home in my life.

I lived in a college dorm room for four years, but I always filled it with pictures, bright colors, and decor that made it a home for me during that season of life. And redecorating our apartment in Chicago (once we got married and it wasn’t just Jeffrey living there anymore) was a dream come true. It was only home for a few short months, but it was our first home together, and from the beginning, i knew i wanted our home to be a refuge, a place to rest, recharge, connect, and enjoy each other.

When we bought our first home in Lexington, I don’t think I could have ever imagined everything that would take place within these walls in these past ten years. We have brought three babies home here. We have rearranged and filled each room. We are in the midst of our third year of homeschooling. And just yesterday we received our approval to welcome and love on children in our home through foster care (which I will post more on later). We have loved, learned, cried, argued, grown and truly lived together in our home.

And in this season of life we are currently in, God has continually pressed on my heart to spend this year really focusing on our home a haven for all those who enter. For Jeffrey, after a full day of work, that he can come home and rest. For our babies, that home will be a place where they can make mistakes, where they can learn and explore, and where most importantly they can develop and grow in their relationship with the Lord. For family and friends, that our home with always be open, whether it’s clean or not, and that we will always have a spirit of hospitality.

I am so looking forward to spending the year going through, “The Life Giving Home” by Sally Clarkson with a small group of friends. I am praying that it will be encouraging and challenging for each of us as we long to make our homes a place where God is so evident and glorified as we love and serve Him and love and serve each other. Oh, Lord, may our home be a haven filled by You!

Looking for Lovely

“I’m believing what I cannot see because of what I can see. And thats the kind of moment that matters to me–the kind I hang on to, the kind I call lovely, the kind that sticks to my heart and reminds me over and over again of who our God is and how he works.”

~~Annie Downs, “Looking for Lovely”~~

Downtown

Downtown Greenville was our go to place during college. From Coffee Underground to Falls Park, and there were of course lots of restaurants and places to shop! Jeffrey and I went downtown to get ice cream from Marble Slab on our first date, vanilla with Reese’s Pieces for him and cheesecake ice cream for me. We had dinner at Trios and went to see Edwin McCain at the Peace Center downtown for our first Valentine’s together!  And now many years later, we still love taking the kids back to visit and explore all that downtown Greenville has to offer.

And most of our trips to Charleston usually involve a trip downtown too. We love to walk through the market, try new restaurants (and eat at our favorites too), walk along the Battery and swing at Waterfront Park. Plus, it’s always a treat to stop by the Pineapple Fountain and reminisce our engagement! We’ve been to the Aquarium and the Children’s Museum. There is so much history to learn about and discover, and the kids always have so much fun exploring! We are really looking forward to spending even more time in Charleston next year when we study South Carolina History.

Downtown Atlanta is another one of our favorite cities! From the Atlanta Zoo to the Georgia Aquarium, from the Varsity to the World of Coke, and Centennial Park too, we’ve been able to do some fun things downtown! And there are plenty more on the list too–so many places that I still want to show my babies! Jeffrey and I spent my 21st birthday seeing Oliver at the Fox Theatre, which is simply stunning, and we spent our first night married at the beautiful Georgian Terrace before heading off to Mexico!

So while we always love a good day trip or a weekend away, some of our most favorite days are spent right here in Famously Hot Columbia! There are so many great things happening downtown these days! Late this morning we went downtown to walk around Soda City and go ice skating outside by the Columbia Museum of Art. The kids did great and were so determined! Carson made it around a couple times with me before he decided he would rather hang out with Daddy and watch. This was Sarah Ann and mine’s third year skating here, so she was pretty comfortable with it all and had a blast!  And that Reecer, he never gave up! He was so proud of himself at the end! It was so much fun! We stopped by Mast General Store for a little shopping before heading to Wild Wings for a late lunch! Family Saturdays are the absolute sweetest!

my not so little baby boy!

three weeks from today carson will be 4 years old! i mean, for real, i just can’t believe it! there are things that he will say or do throughout the day that seem so grown up to me, but then there are moments when he just wants to be held and snuggled, and i just stop and soak it all in.

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last week carson went to atlanta with nanny for a few days to spend some time with his favorite annalee. he was a great big helper and loved playing with her! they played in her new kitchen, went to story time at the library, and had lunch at mcdonalds. they are so cute together! and apparently playing with your cousin will wear you out–he fell asleep as soon as they got back on the road to south carolina!

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carson was super excited to go back to preschool today, especially since they had a school wide pajama day! and this little buzz lightyear couldn’t wait to take off his jacket when he got in the car today to show me his super student sticker since he was the line leader today!

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Saturdays Well Spent

Last Saturday Jeffrey and I enjoyed a New Year’s Eve date night filled with shopping, dinner at Ruth’s Chris, and watching football! The kids, of course, had a blast with Nanny and Pops roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire pit outside, playing with their pets, and staying up late! The big kids made it way past midnight, but Carson preferred ringing in the New Year sleeping! Maybe next year, sweet boy!

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Yesterday morning we woke up to the tiniest bit of snow, but the kids were super excited nonetheless! They had fun playing outside, making a few snowballs, and collecting snow with Daddy for snow cream! It was quite the cold day, but we definitely made the most of it. We spent the afternoon on Harbison using gift cards from Grandpa and Ning at Toys R Us, Jeffrey and the big kids went to see Rogue One, and Carson and I went to the mall, rode the carousel, played on the playground, did a little cruise shopping, and got all of the supplies for his upcoming birthday party! Then we came home to some delicious taco soup in the crockpot and a snuggly evening at home!

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Discipline and Grace

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There are things that definitely become easier as your children get older. You sleep all night long (except for the occasional “Momma, momma, momma, will you lay wif me? from Carson). We travel without the pack’n’play and the stroller. Our day trips and vacations are so much fun. They are more independent, and they are helpful. They clean their own rooms and put on their own clothes (for the most part). And even today, I didn’t mind at all getting out in the rain with all three to go to the movies and run a few errands on the way home. Oh, my heart aches that we don’t have a baby in the house anymore, but I am also really loving and enjoying this sweet season we are in right now. Watching them grow up and learn and explore is such a joy!

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But there are also things that are a lot more complex. Understanding the world around them, handling emotions, friendships and activities. And with Sarah Ann and Reece more so, there is the balance of discipline and grace. Carson is still in the stage of learning boundaries and obedience. He knows the rules and consequences, and we talked a lot about how God calls us to honor and obey. But with the big kids, we are going deeper. And I’m learning that it’s not one or the other with discipline and grace, but rather both working together. We have well established rules and consequences in our home, and when we are in a new situation, I try to always be very up front with what is expected and what the consequences will be for disobedience. For example, last week Reece was having a rough morning while we are at the state museum with friends. The kids were suppose to have movie night with Jeffrey that evening while I went to dinner with friends, so I let Reece know that he would lose movie night if he got in trouble again that day. That afternoon while we were outside playing, he got upset and didn’t handle the situation correctly, so movie night was taken away. He was immediately remorseful and apologized, and he was heartbroken over losing movie night, but he handled himself well. Jeffrey and I talked with him when he got home, and as we discussed consequences and grace, we let him know that he was going to get to watch the movie, but that he had to clean all of the bathrooms on Saturday morning instead. I talked about how everyone makes mistakes, especially me, and that I get angry and upset, but it’s all in how I react and respond to that anger. But we also talked about how there are still also consequences for our actions. But that in understanding discipline and experiencing grace, we get a beautiful picture of how the Father loves us and works in us. And oh, that boy, I know that God is going to do big things with him! And his brother and sister too! And one of my biggest prayers for this upcoming year is that we will continue to grow through God’s sweet grace and discipline, that we will be stretched and become stronger, that we will love well and learn well, and that we will not just focus on the behaviors, but rather on the heart–a heart that loves Jesus and wants to honor him with our actions. Oh, Jesus, thank you for all that you teach me through my babies. Thank you for your grace and your discipline. Thank you for your love and your truth, and thank you for this most high calling.

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Christmas 2016

Christmas Eve was a wonderful family day. We spent the morning cleaning our rooms, decorating cookies, and playing. After some quiet time, we headed to church to help during one of the services. Sarah Ann and Carson were great helpers at church, while Jeffrey and Reece were great helpers vacuuming at home. We all then went to the next Christmas Eve service together. It was such a sweet time of singing Christmas carols, hearing truth, and focusing on the most precious gift we could ever receive through Jesus. After church we came home and made breakfast for dinner, took baths, read our final Christmas Bible story, and then went to look at Christmas lights one more time before bed. It was a sweet and simple day that I’ll forever cherish.

After the kids fell asleep, Jeffrey and I got to work! It’s always so much fun staying up late, wrapping presents, and anticipating the kids’ excitement of the next day! And this year we got it all done in just the knick of time. Right as we were getting in the bed, Carson woke up wanting me to sleep in his bed with him, because Santa was going to be coming down the chimney! Oh, sweet boy!

I keep thinking that this will be the year when the kids wake up super early, but it still hasn’t happened yet! Carson woke up around 8:15 and then he was quickly ready to wake everyone else up! It was so much fun watching them open their presents. There were a few things that they had asked for, but there were definitely some fun surprises too! One of my favorite traditions is that the kids’ rotate buying the things for each others’ stockings, and it is always the gift they are most excited about opening! After all of the presents were opened except one, we received a very special phone call from Mickey and Minnie letting us all know that we would be seeing them soon on the Disney Cruise! The kids were thrilled, and we can’t wait to go!

Nanny and Pops came over for an appetizer lunch and to see all of presents. We had a great time watching the Disney World parade, playing with the new toys, and eating lots of yummy food. Unfortunately Sarah Ann started not feeling well, and even though she really wanted to play, she also spent a lot of the day laying down. Sunday evening, Carson, Reece and I went over to Nanny and Pops’ house to celebrate with them, Uncle Jeremy, Aunt Melanie, and Annalee. The boys were so happy to see Annalee and discover the new trampoline in the backyard! Jeffrey and Sarah Ann stayed home and watched “Finding Dory” together. It was an imperfectly perfect Christmas Day!

Sarah Ann woke up the day after Christmas feeling much better and ready to play! So we had another day of Christmas celebrating at Nanny and Pops’ house. We ate lunch together, opened presents, played games, jumped on the trampoline, and played an intense game of kickball. Family time is always so very sweet and so very fun!

We were sad to see Daddy go back to work on Tuesday after having him home with us for several days. But thankfully Annalee was feeling much better so we were able to spend an absolutely beautiful afternoon outside with them before Uncle Jeremy, Aunt Melanie, and Annalee went back to Atlanta. And our new toys have kept us quite happy and occupied over the past week!

Grandpa came over to visit on New Year’s Day and we celebrated a bit more! They had so much fun showing him several of the magic tricks they have learned with the new magic kit they got for Christmas! It was definitely an extra New Year treat!

The days were full, but they were so very special! Every year it just gets more and more fun, and it is the best experience to be able to see Christmas through your babies’ eyes, no matter how big they are getting! Oh Christmas 2016, you were definitely one that we will never forget!

Hello 2017!

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

And hello 2017!

We are beginning this new year thankful, joyful, and hopeful for all that is to come!

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But before we get too far into this new year, let’s look back a bit on 2016!

In January, Jeffrey and I kicked off the New Year with a little getaway to Charleston! And we ended the month at Disney World celebrated Carson’s third birthday! It was a magical week!

February brought Carson’s birthday party at Moe’s, a Valentine’s family date to see Dr. Dolittle and have dinner at Mellow Mushroom, Sarah Ann and Daddy’s first year at the library’s Daddy/Daughter dance, and a Mommy/Son night at the circus!

In March, Sarah Ann and Carson started soccer, Reece tested for his final stripe on his white belt, we celebrated Easter, and took a trip to Atlanta for spring break!

We kicked off April with Reece’s sixth birthday and a special party with some of his favorite friends at HiWire and Chickfila. We took our first beach trip of the year, Sarah Ann and I enjoyed a girls day in Charlotte, and we took a day trip to Greenville to visit North Greenville University with the kids!

May brought an end to a lot of things–Reece finished kindergarten, Sarah Ann completed 1st grade, and Carson finished his first year of preschool! We celebrated a great school year at Chuck E. Cheese! We also finished up the Awana year, and both big kids completed their entire books! Spring soccer ended, and Sarah Ann’s dance classes ended with a wonderful recital!

June was a super fun month kicking off the summer with a week at Fripp Island with the family, going to Vacation Bible school, and Mommy running her first 5K! Reece also learned how to swim in June and we celebrated Daddy for Father’s Day with lunch and a movie!

July was another big month! Reece tested for his yellow belt at the end of June and officially became at yellow belt in July! He worked so hard! Carson had his tonsils and adenoids removed and stayed overnight at the hospital, and Sarah Ann was also the cutest blind mouse in Village Square Theatre’s summer production. And in the midst of all that, Jeffrey and I also celebrated our 10th anniversary with a trip to Tybee Island and Savannah! It was amazing!

August brought the beginning of a new school year with a first grader and second grader! Soccer also started back, and this season Carson was so excited for Daddy to be his coach. We watched a lot of the olympics and took a trip to Atlanta to celebrate Annalee’s birthday and visit the World of Coke. Daddy turned 34, and we celebrated with a fun night at Myabi’s!

We kicked off September with apple picking and our first Columbia Fireflies game. Sarah Ann started dance again and immediately loved her ballet, jazz, and hip hop classes! We were excited for college football to be back and to end summer with a family day trip to the beach. And then we kicked off a fabulous fall with our first getaway to Boone, NC at the end of September. It was such a fun vacation!

October brought with it lots of fall fun–the pumpkin patch, the state fair, boo at the zoo, fall festivals and parties, and lots of Halloween fun! Sarah Ann and Carson also finished their second seasons of soccer with a huge fan club, and they already can’t wait for it to start again!

Our big girl turned eight in November, and we celebrated our princess with a special dinner with friends at the Melting Pot!  We took a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge with friends too! And then Jeffrey and I got to return to the Melting Pot for the 10th year in a row to celebrate my birthday. The Thanksgiving holidays were also so very sweet as we enjoyed lots of family time!

And finally December! We finished the first half of our school year, Carson had a special class Christmas party, Reece tested for his yellow belt with white stripe and passed, Sarah Ann performed in the Nutcracker as a trumpeter, and I completed my first 10k! We also climbed to the top of Stone Mountain and enjoyed the Christmas season together!

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Wow! What a year! It was filled with some many precious memories that I’ll forever cherish! It was also a year of waiting, learning, growing, and trusting in the Lord’s perfect timing and perfect faithfulness! He is always in control, and He is always good! And we are expecting great things to come in 2017!

So, 2017, bring it on! We are ready for you!

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december to remember!

well, here we are at the end of another year! 2016 flew by, and december was definitely no exception! i’m going to post about christmas soon, but until then here’s a few moments from december to remember…