Soccer, Sports, and Creative Arts Camp

We started off our week bright and early on Monday morning! This week Carson attended Soccer Shots camp downtown at First Baptist Columbia. He was so excited about learning some “new moves” for the upcoming soccer season, and oh my goodness, he about brought me to tears, looking so very big carrying his water bottle and snack bag, and walking right into camp! He had so much fun learning some new skills, playing games, scrimmaging, and being a super hero soccer player!

Sarah Ann and Carson also got to attend Sports and Creative Arts camp this week at Lexington Baptist Church with some of their sweet friends. Reece participated in the sports camp and they did a different sport each day: basketball, soccer, baseball, and volleyball. I am so proud of how he has come out of his shell and has been so willing to try new things! He had a great time this week, and I loved hearing all about his day each afternoon! He is always so animated and had so much to share! And our little miss on-the-go extrovert also had a wonderful week! Ha! She does in fact have some shy moments, but she was thrilled to be on the same team with her friend Caroline and then in both of her classes with her friend Lucy Mills. She took voice and jewelry making for her classes this week, and she absolutely loved them both! Today her voice class performed, and they did an awesome job!

And this week definitely wouldn’t have been possible without some help from our family and friends! Thank you to Pops for taking Sarah Ann and Reece to camp on Monday and Tuesday and Mrs. Lil for picking them up! And thanks to Nanny for getting Carson to and from camp on Wednesday and Thursday!

We are so thankful for such a fun week, but I also think we’ll all be happy to sleep in a little bit tomorrow morning!

An Overnight Trip to Atlanta

Last Monday after co-op registration, we packed up Nanny’s van and headed down I-20 for a quick overnight trip to visit Uncle Jeremy, Aunt Melanie, and Annalee. Other than some traffic and a bit of carsickness, we had a smooth trip down and went straight to La Parrilla! Hallelujah! The kids asked me why we also go to La Parrilla when we go to Atlanta. Ha! But for real, there is no better Mexican restaurant ever! After dinner we went to the neighborhood playground, cooled off with popsicles, played with Annalee’s toys, and then slowly but surely fell asleep in their sleeping bags!

The next morning we played, ate breakfast, packed up all of our belongings and then headed to Kennesaw Mountain to hike. We grew up hiking, picnicking, and exploring Kennesaw Mountain, and it was really fun to be able to take the kids there to hike too! They did a great job! Reece is the fastest hiker ever, and I was so proud of Carson and J for hanging in there. Sarah Ann also brought along Mary Ellen for the hike! And I’ll always love the view from the top! You can see the hospital where I was born, downtown Atlanta, and even Stone Mountain across the way!

That hike definitely called for lunch at the Varsity, which I’m pretty sure is the only other restaurant the kids think exists in Atlanta! But, nevertheless, it’s always delicious and they love getting a Frosted Orange! And lastly, after lunch, we spent the afternoon at Catch Air! They had completely redone it since our last trip there, and the kids had an absolute blast climbing, jumping, sliding, spinning, dancing, and running around! It was a great way to cool off on a hot day and burn off some energy before the drive back to SC! We definitely had some sleepy and quiet babies on the way back!

Oh, Atlanta, you are always such a treat! (Even with your crazy traffic!) Thank you, Uncle Jeremy, Aunt Melanie, and Annalee for letting us stay with you! We can’t wait to come back in just a few weeks to celebrate a very special birthday!

Summer 2017, Weeks 7-9

Oh, sweet, sweet summer! Can you stay forever? 

Week 7: The Lego Movie in 4D with some of our favorite friends at the State Museum. Lots of fun in the sun and swimming with co-op friends. Sarah Ann got to participate in the magic show at the library, petting a snake, playing with Legos, and getting lots of new books (thank you for the pictures, Mrs. Kathy). Making dirt cups for dessert. Yum! Thankful for a slow morning at home, and then more swimming with friends! And finally a morning swim with some of our besties, running errands around town, and making posters for our trash men and postal worker.

Week 8: A girl sleepover at Nanny and Pops’ for AC and SA! Mornings at speech with J, and rainy summer school afternoons. A pizza picnic at the park on a hot day, and the boys’ turn for their sleepover! There’s no better way to beat this SC heat than more swimming with friends. We’ve got serious little fish on our hands! Making cards and printing pictures to send to Granny and NaMe! And finally a day with no appointments, no visits, and no schedule. Just a fun and fabulous day at the zoo! Carousel rides, sea lions, pony rides, a new octopus, and waterfall junction!

Week 9: Lots of fun at preschool space camp and art camp! Dress like a cow for free Chick-fil-a! Reading lots of books together and more summer school afternoons. Lunch, popsicles, and the pool with Anna Claire, Charlie, Nathan, and Emma! Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! A fun Friday morning catching up with friends at the pool, and an afternoon playdate and catching up with Mrs. Aimee, Averie, and Finn! For our service and acts of kindness this week, we drew names out of a hat so that we could do something kind for a family member that week, so that we could remember to think of others before we think of ourselves.

A Table Full, Part 3

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well, here we are six months into our foster care journey and five months of having little j as a part of our family.

i have never been more tired, more busy, more stretched, more thankful, and more overwhelmed by god’s sweet grace and mercy.

our babies drive him absolutely crazy, yet they cannot imagine life without him and don’t ever want him to leave. they love him and care for him and protect him and aggravate and treat him just like he is one of their own.

sometimes it’s hard to see in the day in and day out, but j has grown so much. he’s learned rules and boundaries, and that those are there because we love him. he’s learned discipline and obedience. he’s pushed the limits and learned that’s just not going to work around here. he’s experienced so many new things for the first time, and he’s so flexible and usually pretty go with the flow.

he’s now in speech twice a week, and we are seeing some positive gains. it’s hard, but it’s helping. he’s also gotten into the special need 3k program for the fall in our school district, and we are hopeful for how much he will grow and learn there. he’s moving forward and learning and growing and being challenged.

he still prefers all things sweet and junk food, and his favorite thing to drink is milk. all of his favorite toys spin around and around and around. he’s a little fish in the water and has absolutely no fear. he loves to be outside, and he likes building with the train set and doing puzzles inside. bubbles are a favorite too, and he loves dancing to music with the rest of our crew. he can totally fake some awesome tears, and he gives the best smiles. he sleeps with his favorite blanket every night, and he tries to sneak it out of his bed during the day too. he likes play dough and cutting with scissors, and he prefers to color with markers over crayons. he’s improved so much with listening to books, and he received his first summer reading medal today!

i’ve learned over the past six months that there are some things that we will never understand about this whole process. it is hard. it is trying. it is messy. but it is beautiful. and it continually gives us a glimpse of how jesus loves us and loves his church. and for that we are thankful…thankful that our table can be full… to love, to feed, to teach, to encourage, and to point j to jesus.

Church of the Small Things

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

–Walt Disney

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It’s not secret that books are a big favorite around our house. Each week we leave the library with 4 bags full! Sarah Ann barely has room to sleep on her bed, because it is filled with the picture books and chapter books that she reads every night before bed. Currently (and always) American Girl books and the Rainbow Fairy series are her favorites! I love to hear her laugh and see her smile when she’s reading. And I’m just blown away by how much Reece continues to grow in his reading. Sarah Ann read the entire series of Magic Treehouse books during second grade, so Reece is determined to do the same. He’s actually gotten a head start this summer, and he’s already on book seven! Jeffrey is reading through a series with Sarah Ann and Reece now that was written by one of his favorite musicians, Andrew Peterson. Carson also likes to check out chapter books from the library to read before bed just like the big kids, and he is a great listener when we all read aloud together! His favorite books are always about animals and sports! Little J has also come so far with listening to books, and he really likes books with flaps and that make noise.

And I’m now on my fourth year of reading a book every month. So far this year I have read “Looking for Lovely” by Annie Downs, “The Magnolia Story” by Chip and Joanna Gaines, “Different” by Sally and Nathan Clarkson, “Home is Where My People Are” by Sophie Hudson, “Missional Motherhood” by Gloria Furman, and “Nothing to Prove” by Jennie Allen. I am also spending the year reading through “The Life Giving Home” by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. They have all been so great! And there are just so many wonderful books out there, and so little time! But I am so excited to share that this month I am reading a brand new book by Melanie Shankle that will be coming out this October! On a whim, I applied to be on the launch team, and I was ecstatic when I found out I was selected and was getting an advanced copy to read and share! I have loved her other three books, and this book is so wonderful so far too! “Church of the Small Things” is all about the day in and day out, the little moments that make up this most beautiful life! I can’t wait to share more as I continue reading and encourage others to read it as well! And this quote perfectly describes the book….

“I’ve lived long enough to know that often, the most memorable moments in life are the ones that sneak up on you because they weren’t planned or orchestrated, but are just the simple moments we’ll eventually look back on and think of as golden. They are the things of love and parenting and laundry and marriage and what to cook for dinner–just life in all its messy, magical, mundane and marvelous glory. These are the holy moments that are Exhibit A in why I’m a believer in the church of the small things.”

–Melanie Shankle

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Space and Art Camp

This week Carson attended space camp at preschool, and he had the best time! He learned new songs, all about the planets, gravity, enjoyed playing outside on the playground with friends, and happy to be back at preschool! And now he’s set on being an astronaut for Halloween and when he grows up! Oh, I sure did miss my big boy while he was gone, but seeing his smile when I went to pick him up every day and having him tell me all about his day was so very sweet!

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While Carson was at space camp, Sarah Ann and Reece had art camp at Lexington Paint and Pour with Mrs. Stacey! They had a wonderful time working with clay, painting a canvas, making paint blob pictures, creating string art, making stamp pictures and stained glass paintings, and having fun with old and new friends! I loved seeing all of their art pieces and how they have grown in their art! And now they are counting down the days until art class starts again in the fall!

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And can we all just say hallelujah!, because for two mornings while they were all at camp, J also had speech for an hour, so this momma had two hours to sit and plan and read and journal! It was quite the treat, especially with my Sonic sweet tea in my hand!

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Alarm Clocks

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Sarah Ann had been asking me for a clock for her room, so one day a couple of weeks ago, I took the crew to Walmart to grab a few things, and Sarah Ann, Reece, and Carson all picked out alarm clocks to put by their beds. Now, my sweet girl is a night owl, just like her Momma, so she didn’t necessarily want the alarm clock for waking up. She wanted to be able to plan out her the time she has in her room to read, write, draw, and color before we have her turn off her lamp and go to sleep. And while she’s done awesome with that, it’s a good thing that she didn’t really want the alarm clock to wake up, because she has slept through it every single morning that she’s used it! Her brothers, on the other hand, have woken right up, turned off their alarms, and hopped out of bed! Reece likes telling me what time it is over and over again, and he wants to set his alarm clock every single night! And Carson just likes that his alarm clocks has a green light on it! 

“Let’s embrace the wonder hidden in the ordinary… because these are the moments that are full of possibility and promise.” –Melanie Shankle

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Those Summeerr Nights!

Right before Father’s Day, we had our annual Father/Daughter date night and Mother/Son Date night with the Henson’s! It’s one of our favorite year traditions since 2011! This year the daddies and daughters got all dressed up and had dinner at Chick-fil-a and got to take a limo ride too! The mommies and boys had dinner at Groucho’s, went to Reece’s karate class, and ended the evening with Pelican’s!

We also love summer nights when we don’t have anywhere to be! Homemade pizza, popcorn, pallets on the floor, and watching the new Beauty and the Beast! Home is where my people are, and I sure do love an evening with them!

Tuesday and Thursday summer evenings bring theatre and karate, and I love being able to watch my babies do what they love! They work so hard, and they make this Momma so proud, and it makes all the driving around town and all the miles worth it!

And that also means Tuesdays are also Taco Tuesdays, another one of everyone’s favorites! And paper plates for the win!

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Jeffrey and I also got to have a date night out in Lexington to the Root Cellar for a delicious dinner and to the new Icehouse Amphitheater to see Edwin McCain with some friends! We’ve seen him four times now in concert, but this might be the most memorable. It poured for about the first hour and we were all soaked, but then there was also the most beautiful rainbow that came out after the storm! We had such a great time, and I’m also so thankful for a date night with my favorite guy!

And there’s really no better way to end our hot summer days than freshly bathed babies, snuggles while watching American Ninja Warrior, and rubbing my sweet baby boy’s back while he falls asleep!

Happy 11th Anniversary!

Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I hath needed, Thy hands hath provided.

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

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On Friday, July 7, 2006 we had our wedding rehearsal, enjoyed a lovely rehearsal dinner fiesta, and said goodnight and went our separate ways for the last time. And last night, on July 7, 2017, Jeffrey and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary with dinner and a movie! We had our first experience at the Oak Table, and while we weren’t completely sure about everything on the menu, our meal was delicious and memorable! After dinner we strolled downtown and then came home and watched “Lion.” We might have been married for eleven years now, but I still don’t think we’ll ever agree on a movie. Nevertheless, it was such a treat to just sit and rest and enjoy some down time together!

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This morning, thanks to Nanny and Pops, we got to sleep in, have a nice morning run, go out to lunch at Carrabba’s and take a quick trip to Lifeway! And this evening we had a fun family night the Lexington County Blowfish game! It was SOAR night at the game to recognize the recent baseball season, and Carson and Reece got to go out on the field to play catch with the players before the game! It was also princess night, so Sarah Ann got to participate in the princess parade! It was sunny and hot, but it was also a lot of fun! And maybe they had the Disney fireworks just for our anniversary! I don’t know if we could have imagined that this is what life would look like eleven years later, but I know that it is more than I could have ever dreamed!

Fourth of July Fun!

From the mountains to the prairies,

To the oceans, white with foam,

God bless America, my home sweet home!

We kicked off our Fourth of July fun last Saturday afternoon with a trip to Lake Murray! We went to Grandpa and Ning’s house after nap time to swim, ride the jet skis, play in the water, eat a delicious dinner, and then finally go see the fireworks in Grandpa’s new boat! All of the kids loved them, but I so wish we could have captured J’s excitement! It was so much fun, and the fireworks were well worth staying up way past bed time!

Sunday after church, lunch with the Hensons, picking up groceries, and cleaning up at home, we headed over to Nanny and Pops’ to swim, grill out a yummy dinner, play, eat lots of yummy desserts, and shoot of some more fireworks! And the sparklers are always a big hit too!

And today was a fabulous Fourth full of family, friends, freedom, and fun! Kathy and I started the day bright and early with the “Born in the USA 4 Miler!” I made it home before everyone else was out of bed, and then we enjoyed white powdered donuts, blueberries, and red strawberries for breakfast! Daddy also read us the Declaration of Independence. After some playing, relaxing, and Tour de France watching, we spent some family time running a few errands around town and having lunch at Wild Wings, one of our favorites! While Jordan and I came home to take a nap, Jeffrey took Sarah Ann, Reece, and Carson to see Cars 3! It was a perfect way to spend a hot afternoon! The kids decorated some delicious sugar cookies after the movie, and then we went to spend the evening with some sweet friends! We had dinner, enjoyed catching up, played with lots of toys, and enjoyed a fun fireworks show with the Harmon’s, Seeby’s, and Heydt’s! What a great day celebrating America’s birthday!