The rest of February

The kids ended up getting a whole week off because of the snow. They were over by it Friday and Saturday, though, and didn’t even go outside to play, LOL.

Sunday I got my first Covid vaccine! 🙌🏻

Josie has been wanting to get her hair cut short for awhile now, and she was so disappointed when the appointment had to be canceled because of the snow. We got to reschedule it for Tuesday, though. She cut a lot off, enough to donate! And she looks so much older I think. She was so excited to show it off at school the next day. I got my hair cut, talk for the first time in about three years (besides when Jake cut it during quarantine), and got it highlighted for the first time since college.

The weather was beautiful all week. After a week of snow, we had a week of beautiful sunshine and temps in the 70s some days-that’s TN for you. Wednesday afternoon the kids and went rollerblading on the greenway.

This weekend Jake and I went on a road trip to Ohio to go antiquing for furniture for Mama Judy’s new house….and random stuff for us too :). The kids stayed with Mama Judy. It was such a great weekend-we needed some time to get away together-soul restoring for sure. Time alone, just the two of us, good food, shopping, and a nice hotel. So thankful for time and resources to be able to do things like this. And, we had great success in finding some awesome pieces for Mama Judy and us!

I’m so glad tomorrow is March. That means one step closer to spring!!

Snow days, day 4

We woke up to several inches of fresh snow, and it was beautiful. Jake decided to start a fire in our fire pit, and we kept it going and enjoyed watching it and standing around it all day long.

Josie was too impatient to build real snowmen, so she built some flat snow men, LOL.

Jack went around our ENTIRE front and back yards on his knees to make a “trench path” and then he jogged it several times. 🤷‍♀️

I SO enjoyed sitting by the fire.

This afternoon I went back out and took a long 2 mile walk in the snow, up our road. It was beautiful and peaceful.

Then I stood by the fire for probably an hour or more, reading and looking at pictures, just enjoying the peacefulness of the snow.

It was a good day.

Snow days, day 2!

We got a little bit of actual snow last night, so the kids went back out today to get some more fun in…but it was COLD-never got out of the teens. I didn’t go outside at all today-too cold for me! Josie made snow cream, and it was delicious! Jack introduced us to SkipBo. He and I played in the afternoon, and then we all played together after dinner.

Ice Day

Last night it started sleeting…..hard. It had been misting ice for a couple of days, but not enough to stick to the roads, just to the grass and trees. We went to the Roses last night for dinner, knowing me might have to leave early in case the weather started to turn. We hung out until it started sleeting pretty hard, and then headed home the long way, just in case the hill was bad. We made it home just fine.

The forecast had predicted the sleet would turn to snow overnight…but it didn’t! It just sleeted, all night long, and started back this morning. I’ve never seen so much sleet! We probably would’ve had foot of snow if it had turned.

It’s President’s Day, so the kids didn’t have school anyways, and the best part is that Jake was off, too, so he could enjoy it with us. We had a long, lazy morning, and then the kids decided to go out and play.

They went over to our neighbors’ house to sled, and my sweet neighbor sent me all kinds of fun videos of them. The one with Jack wiping out is my favorite, for sure.

When they got done with that, Jake and I bundled up and took them right down the road, because we have a really big hill that we thought would be awesome for them to sled down….but it was a dud. The ice wasn’t packed enough, so it would pile up and slow the sled down. But it was fun trying, anyways!

So, since that didn’t work, we decided to go over to the farm. We have been waiting for a good snow since we bought the farm, and it hasn’t happened yet! And, this wasn’t actually snow…but we decided it was close enough. We tried several places, and finally landed on one of the pipelines that worked well. It was fun to just be at our farm all together, though. We so wish we could just pick up our current house and move it out there.

That hill worked pretty well, but this one was the best:

When we all got tired, we headed back home for a really late lunch and some warm drinks. It is always nice to get cozy after a fun day in the snow. Today was good for my soul, for sure.

Kids’ school has already been called for tomorrow, and with so much ice, who knows when they will get to go back!

Jack’s Birthday Festivities

We have a way of making birthdays last several days around here, and Jack’s was no exception!

Thursday we were supposed to get ice that never came, but school was closed anyway, so Jack got his birthday at home. He wanted donuts for his birthday, and Jake and I were in Brentwood on Wednesday, so we went to a little specialty donut shop and picked him up some to surprise him with.

Our birthday tradition is always a special breakfast, complete with birthday song and candles. Also-they love that hang up their birthday banner every year-that is an important part of the tradition! When I made those for their first birthday parties, I NEVER imagined we would use them for so long!

We normally like to do “experience” birthday presents, but Covid has made this a bit trickier. So, we did a normal present instead. Jack has been really into playing the Star Wars X Wing game with his daddy, so we got him a bunch of different pieces to go with it. He was SO excited!

Since we had a day off, I asked Jack what he wanted for lunch, and he said Taco Bell….so Taco Bell it was!

(And yes, he is still in his pjs). We also gave him the gift of unlimited screen time, and he took FULL advantage, LOL.

Love this picture of my big TEN YEAR OLD.

For his birthday dinner that night, Jack requested that MeeMaw make him fried chicken, fried apples, fried okra, biscuits, and chocolate chess pie. And she did, of course, because she is the best Mee Maw and he is spoiled rotten, LOL!

Friday after school Jack’s best friend came home with him for a sleepover. Josie went to Grammy and Pappy’s to “escape,” LOL. There was tons of Star Wars video games, extreme Nerf wars, and movie watching. Jack requested Jose’s for his birthday dinner, and an Oreo cake. They stayed up until 1:00 in the morning, and were up by 7:30 on Saturday morning. Before we dropped his friend off, we went through the Golly G’s drive thru for milkshakes. They had a blast! These two are the SWEETEST best friends. The giggling was awesome to hear.

Happy Birthday, Jack!

Catching up….

I’ve been absent for awhile. It hasn’t been on purpose. But January was a long, hard month. I’m not going to get into details….but I will share that I’ve taken a leave of absence from work, most likely for the rest of the school year. It is the right decision for my health, but it is definitely a decision that comes with heaviness, grief, and sadness. But I wanted to get back on this blog, because it is a good thing for me. I love reflecting back on the good things and the blessings that are happening in our lives. This blog is in no way a complete picture of our lives; it was never meant to be. It was meant to be a scrapbook of memories of our family, things that I want to remember for ages to come. So-I hope none of you ever look at this blog and think that nothing bad ever happens; of course it does, because we live in a fallen world. But, I’m trying to focus on the good :), so that is what you get here! The good. So, here, in picture form, of course, is some of the “good” that has happened around here since Christmas.

We celebrated our number one guy, Jake, turning 40. This is not at all how we imagined we would get to celebrate his big 40th birthday, but quarantining and Covid didn’t allow us to do it up the way we wanted- we will make it up, though! We made the best of it and picked up our favorite drive-thru Mexican for lunch and went to the park to eat it. We picked up ribs for dinner, and made all the fixings to go with that. He wanted his Granny’s homemade pudding cake and chocolate sauce for dessert, so that’s just what we did!

Our New Year’s Eve was certainly different than normal, but we still had fun. We pulled out ALLLLL the junk food snacks, watched a couple of movies, played some board games, and just relaxed together. Jake and I even went for an after-dark walk in our driveway together, just to close our exercise rings. 🙂

This boy’s love language is board games. He loves, loves to play. No matter what the game, no matter with who.

#craft projects keeping me sane

Finally got to celebrate Christmas with Grammy and Pappy one day at our farm. They got Jack an awesome Nerf gun, and Josie her first real shot gun!

Just a beautiful sunrise one morning, behind our barn. I do not care for winter, but I love the beautiful skies it always brings.

One weekend the Rose girls spent the night. I love the relationships our kids have formed with them-so sweet. We went to pick up some Golly G’s that night. The next day we went to check out the progress on Mama Judy’s new house, and then we went to check out the new road we’ve gotten cut at our farm, in the bottom! The kids had a BLAST trekking through the mud.

Jake got a new smoker for Christmas, and he has been putting it to good use-yum!!!

One day we took Mee-Maw down to see the new road, too!

We’ve also been helping MeeMaw clean out and get her house packed. It won’t be long now!!

Love coming home to this.

One day Jack’s good friend Matt picked him up for a day out before he went back to college. They went to Golly G’s and then went on a hike. He had a blast! I love this sweet family-they mean a lot to us.

We love this cat probably more than I should. I call her my “therapy cat.” This week she went missing for a few days…..and then I found her- IN OUR CAMPER. She must’ve followed one of us in there without us knowing, and then got trapped. Eeek! She was perfectly fine, though, and didn’t even leave too big of a mess to clean up.

Our sweet, sweet neighbor brought Jack a birthday present, and this shirt was one of the things in the bag! How cool! We love our neighbors.

Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. Felt almost like myself. It involved, among other things, ice cream from Jeni’s with Jake, that we got to eat outside because it was a beautiful February day, and getting to see Mom and Dad and Casey and her family.

Hopefully I can stay caught up now….but I’m not making any promises!

Happy Birthday Jack!!

Dear Jack,

I can’t believe you are DOUBLE DIGITS! I dreamed last night of you as a little bitty toddler, still saying things like “she’s shoes” and not being able to pronounce your “r” and “s.” Sometimes I miss seeing that squishy, sweet, little toddler boy, but I love this stage of having a big boy, too. And it helps that you are the sweetest “big boy” I know. You still love to snuggle and be “pat-patted.” You are tender hearted, sweet, caring, kind, obnoxious, loud, annoying, full of energy, lazy, and crazy, all at the same time.

It has been a unique year for all of us, one you will probably always remember- the “Covid” year. Even though that brought a lot not so pleasant things, there were also some good things. You got to experience homeschooling (and decided you preferred regular school, even though you didn’t mind homeschooling too much). We had lots of time to spend together as a family. You got to enjoy just being home a lot- you really like being here! You were a champ about wearing masks all the time-you never complained once.

Some of your favorites this year have been family movie nights (we all love a good heist movie), board games (board games are your love language, no joke), all things Star Wars and Mandalorian, riding your bike and Ripstick, driving the lawn mower, rollerblading with Josie, your cats, the “Wings of Fire” series you’ve been reading (I’ve been so excited to see you pick up books to read on your own this year!), playing on the Switch, making zip lines and obstacle courses outside (American Ninja Warrior style), climbing trees, fishing, throwing baseball with your daddy, and lately, the Star Wars board game y’all have started playing together. You LOVE being in your pajamas. You would literally live in them if we let you. Your very best friend is still Finn. You love everyone in your class, though-I love to see your sweetness towards your classmates (and I’ve gotten to see a lot this year, since I’ve been your teacher!).

Some of your favorite foods have changed, and you are eating a lot more now! Your favorite “restaurant” food is quesadillas- and it doesn’t matter where they come from! Milkshakes are always your chosen Golly G’s treat. You also still love all things Chinese. You love sweet tea, and your favorite home cooked foods are fried chicken, fried okra, fried apples (sensing a theme?), and sweet potatoes. You are big fan of ANY type of muffin or donut, and salads have also been a hit with you this year. You are really not very picky, and basically eat almost anything we put in front of you-or you at least will try it.

Even though we were limited on our normal activities, we still got to do a lot of fun things. We went on your very first overnight hiking trip to Roane mountain. You loved every minute of it. You and Josie spent the night in the treehouse a couple of nights over the summer. Your best friend Finn (and his siblings) got to spend the night for 2 nights at our house while their mom was having a baby. You mastered swimming. You won FIRST PLACE in every cross country race for the season and placed first overall in the league for your age group!! All that energy had to go somewhere! Your mandolin teacher has nothing for praise for you- you have worked hard, never complain about practicing, and that hard work is paying off! You are getting crazy good at bike jumps and tricks, and you will climb anything we let you. All of your pants have holes in the knees, and you go through tennis shoes at rapid pace. You LOVE life, and I love to watch you live it!

I love you, sweet boy. No matter how big you get, you will always be my baby.


2020 Books

I set out with a goal at the beginning of this year to read all The Chronicles of Narnia again, as well as at least one book from every grade level list from my school. I started out strong….and then, well, 2020. BUT, I still managed to read 58 books, and they were a mix of genres, not all fluffy fiction (although, quite a few were fluffy fiction, LOL), so I’m going to take that as a win. I’ve discovered my favorite type of fiction books is a good murder mystery. Below is my list, along with a few notes about each one.

1. When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal (good fiction-not “fluffy,” though, although it had a good ending)

2. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (third grade list)

3. The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield

4. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover (definitely a fluffy read, but really enjoyable)

5. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (6th grade list) (This was a long, slow read for me. 2nd half was better than the first, and I see the merit in reading it for the subject matter…but not one I will be rereading anytime soon.)

6. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (I thought I would like this more than I did. It was a quick read, and it kept me intrigued, but at the end my overall impression was just “meh.”)

7. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (12th grade list)

8. The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney (One of the upper school summer reading books. I enjoyed this, used it as a sort of devotional to supplement my Bible reading time.)

9. North by Scott Jurek (about him beating the speed record on the Appalachian Trail-I absolutely love books like this, and this one was no exception).

10. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms (Fun, fluffy read.)

11. On the Bright Side by Melanie Shankle (I always love her books, and this one was no exception.)

12. The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone (SUCH an interesting read)

13. The Road She Left Behind by Kristine Nolfi (cute fluff read, nothing special)

14. It’s a Love Story by Lincee Ray (a fun memoir by a Christian author)

15. The Youth and Teen Running Encyclopedia by Mick Grant and John Molvar (a coaching book I read for XC)

16. P.S. From Paris by Marc Levy (a fun, fluffy read)

17. A Fire Sparkling by Julianne Maclean (novel about WWII-really enjoyed this one)

18. Can You Drink the Cup? By Henri J.M. Nouwen (A book about spiritual life, focusing on the question Jesus asked his disciples before his death)

19. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (I love this author’s style of writing-always keeps me reading!)

20. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (Narnia book one-JECA kindergarten list)

21. Defending Jacob by William Landry (a murder mystery-quite good)

22. Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In by Louis Zamperini. (Memoirs, life lessons-really enjoyed this)

23. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell (murder mystery-really enjoyed this one-read it in less than a day)

24. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (good story, but written from a weird perspective)

25. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards (captivating story, but sad)

26. Why I Hate Green Beans by Lincee Ray (a memoir by a Christian author/blogger-very fun and encouraging)

27. A Woman Like Her by Marc Levy (another fun, fluffy read)

28. The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan (a murder mystery-good read)

29. The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman (a book about making decisions-good read)

30. America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (a historical fiction novel about Thomas Jefferson’s life, told from the perspective of his oldest daughter-based on his letters-really good read!)

31. Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (a true story about mondern day slavery and homelessness-a memoir-really good

32. Becoming by Michelle Obama (her autobiography about becoming 1st lady-very good read)

33. Stand All the Way Up by Sophie Hudson (another excellent book by one of my favorite authors-this one was very encouraging, and SO appropriate for what is going on in our world right now, even though she wrote it almost two years ago)

34. The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar (a historical fiction novel about the WASPs in WWII-great read!)

35. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan (A memoir about a daughter and father both having and surviving cancer at the same time).

36. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (murder mystery-really good)

37. Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (sad/heavy read, but written in such an intriguing way)

38. Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson (a reread that I love)

39. The Negotiator by Dee Henderson (1st in the O Malley series)

40. The Guardian by Dee Henderson (2nd in the O Malley series)

41. The Truth Seeker by Dee Henderson (3rd in the O Malley series)

42. Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan (a very, very fluffy beach read)

43. The Bright Side of Going Dark by Kelly Harm (a fun, fluffy read with some good messages)

44. The Protector by Dee Henderson (4th in the O Malley series

45. The Healer by Dee Henderson (5th in the O Malley series)

46. The Rescuer by Dee Henderson (6th in the O Malley series)

47. The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona Valpy (WWII book told from the perspective of women in France-good read)

48. The Guest List by Lucy Foley (murder mystery-good read)

49. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. (A book about trauma)

50. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (I enjoy her style of writing)

51. My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan (a fun romantic read)

52. The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin

53. The Last Letter from Juliet by Melanie Hudson (WWII novel about a female pilot-great read)

54. In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn (A sad, but very compelling, story)

55. The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal (really enjoyable fiction/mystery novel.)

56. The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock L. Eide and Fernette F. Eide (excellent read!)

57. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseni (A fictional book set in Afghanistan in the 1970s-early 2000s-a powerful, sad read, but so good and important. I like books like these that give me a glimpse into other cultures.)

58. Love Her Well by Kari Kampakis (a book about parenting teenage daughters-highly recommend!)

Christmas Day

This Christmas Day, of course, was not at all like normal. But it wasn’t bad, either! This is the first year, ever, that we have slept in on Christmas Day. Normally we have to set alarms and wake the kiddos before daylight so we can enjoy our Christmas as a family before heading down to my parents’ house. Which we love! But it was also really nice to have a slower Christmas morning and not be so tired.

We always get the kids one big gift and stocking stuffers. And we never wrap their gifts, just cover them with blankets. 🙂 This year we got Josie a Cricut and Jack a hoverboard with go cart attachment.

They were both THRILLED with their gifts. And they always love opening their stockings, too. This year Josie had a devotional book, a bracelet, a Golly G’s gift card, some ColorStreet nails, some candy, and Christmas Tree cakes, of course. Jack got a slingshot, some Legos, some bath bombs (he LOVES bath bombs), a Golly G’s gift card, candy, and Christmas Tree cakes.

Jake and I exchanged gifts, too. He got me rollerblades!! And a new awesome down blanket for hiking. The rollerblades were hidden in the dirty clothes, hamper, LOL and the kids wrapped up a note for me to find them.

I got Jake a Pit Barrel smoker, a smoker thermometer, and a new shirt.

For Christmas morning breakfast, I made Instant Pot sausage gravy (our FAVORITE gravy, but definitely a special treat type of thing!) and of course chocolate gravy. We decided to keep it simple and just have biscuits, gravy and fruit. And it was delicious.

And then we just had a long, lazy day. We watched movies and played. Josie played with her Cricut She loves it! Jack made a million laps around the house with his hoverboard.

At some point in the afternoon, even though it was FREEZING, we bundled up and went up the road to the church where we go for walks so I could try out my new roller blades. Josie rollerbladed, too, and Jack took his new hoverboard. Jake just walked with us.

After we went for a walk, we ran by Mama Judy’s (and stayed outside) to pick up our Christmas care package :). She sent us home with potato soup, chili, and lots of cookies.

Then we settled back in for a long cozy night, being lazy and watching movies. We checked the last thing off our Christmas to-do list, watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Even though it was different, Christmas was good. It was nice to be able to just focus on our little family of four. I love them a lot!