13 Years

Dear Josie-

Today the day finally came. The day you have been you have been eagerly anticipating for a long, long time. You are a TEENAGER. And you couldn’t be happier about it. 13 means you get to sit in the front seat of the car, wear make up (in moderation), and ride in a boat without a life jacket. You can get your boater’s license and we’ve also decided it means you get to start learning how to drive…in the field, anyways.

This year has been strange, and good, and interesting, and hard, and sweet, all rolled together. Middle school is a strange and awkward time. You are trying to figure out who you are and who you want to be. You are trying out all kinds of new personalities and interests, just to see if they fit. Your daddy and I are equal parts annoyed and enamored with you, all the time. We get to see small glimpses of future, grown up Josie, and we still see some of our sweet, happy little girl Josie, but a lot of the time is the awkward, annoying, silly Josie….or the moody, narcissistic, and emotional Josie. But we love all the versions of who you are. Every single one, even when we are annoyed.

Here are the things I want to remember about this year of your life:

-Covid was still very much a presence in our lives, but you rolled with it and handled it as gracefully and with as much patience as possible. You didn’t complain about mask wearing, you patiently endured quarantines, and you were happy (albeit very scared) to get your vaccine.

-You were officially diagnosed with dyslexia. And it has been a wonderful thing. This was your best year of school in several years, mainly due to the fact that you were finally getting the accommodations you were needing, and because you had Mrs. Rose for a teacher. AND because we finally KNEW. Just knowing was a relief. And you did one of the hardest, bravest things you’ve ever done. You stood in front of your whole class, and you told them about your diagnosis and what it meant. And it was so, so good for you. You felt immediate relief to have that “secret” out in the open. And it helped some of your classmates open up about their learning differences as well. We were so, so proud of you.

-You are slowly but surely giving up “playing.” You play with your brother, and I still catch y’all in make believe games sometimes, but your free time looks a lot different than it did even a year ago. You listen to music ALL the time, either through headphones or on the speaker in your room. Your current favorites are Old Crow Medicine Show or the Jonas Brothers. You are constantly redecorating your room. You will hole up in your bed and read for hours on end. You love, love books. You like to draw house plans and do art projects- especially if they involve melting crayons. You LOVE to roller blade. You will do that for hours in the driveway, listening to music. You and Jack also love to play on the slack line and create obstacle courses for each other.

-You had your first official “boyfriend” this year that we called your “scrunchie buddy.” (Nathaniel) Having a boyfriend didn’t mean much more than you talking to him at school and occasionally texting with him, though.

-We gave you a smidge more freedom with electronics this year. Partly because of isolation with Covid, and partly because you have proven yourself (so far) responsible in that realm. You get to chat with your friends on Google hangouts and you have a (monitored) list of people you are allowed to text. You inherited my old cell phone (without service) and Apple watch.

-You are growing like a WEED. Seriously, since Christmas, you’ve had your first major growth spurt of your life. You can share some clothes and shoes with me, and you have officially outgrown the kids’ section. And you definitely have an opinion about your clothes now. You are developing your own style. Sometimes your daddy and and I approve, and sometimes we don’t. You chopped your hair off big time this year, and it looks so good! You have learned to fix it really well.

-Growing like a weed also means you are eating us out of house and home. You literally eat more than any of us now. Your favorites are spaghetti, hamburgers, Greek food, and any kind of dessert (but especially caramel and dark chocolate). You also LOVE coffee, especially mocha lattes, and will drink it anytime you are allowed. Dr. Pepper is also a favorite.

-You love to write. You published several issues of “The Edwards,” a school newspaper you created all by yourself. You are also currently writing a chapter book.

-You love sarcasm and are starting to learn when it is/isn’t appropriate. You and your daddy have a lot of fun together.

-You are unpredictable-one second you will do something grown up and big and responsible and then the next minute run away like a little kid kicking and screaming from something you are are irrationally afraid of.

-You simultaneously have the best and worst memory of any kid on the planet.

-You learned to mow this year.

-When we ask you to name your best friends, Hannah is always first, followed closely by Josie B., Nathaniel, and Joseph. You are learning that not everyone is your friend….and that that is perfectly okay.

I could never list all the things that make you, YOU. But I do love you, so much, even through all the attitude and sarcasm and awkwardness. And because of it. Even though you are undeniably growing up, you will always be my little Josie girl.

Love you to the moon,
Momma

Summer so far

The kiddos have been soaking up their summer break and enjoying some unstructured free time. Josie has broken some sleeping late records, and Jack just enjoys having so much time to play with his sister. Here are few moments of summer happy that I want to remember.

I’ve been reading all kinds of books. These are two that I really enjoyed.

The kids helped me get these lavender and blackberry beds under control.

The farm is just beautiful, and all the flower seeds we planted are growing great!

We had sweet friends over for dinner one night, and the kids had a blast.

Water balloons. These can keep my kids entertained for hours on end.

Jake noticed this HUGE alligator snapping turtle on the side of the road driving home one day, so we walked up the road to check it out.

Our sweet, sweet neighbors have offered the use of their pool to us again, and the kids jumped in eagerly. Still too cold for me!

These kids worked hard to build a “fairy garden.”

Just a kid and his cat.

Saturday I took Hannah and Jo to a VBS choreography practice, and Jake and Jack went with the Roses to test their new boat!

Then they all came back to our house for dinner.

This is what almost 13 looks like.

Yesterday brought new adventures-skate camp at Rocketown for Jack, and Josie’s second Covid vaccine…and time to hang out in a coffee shop, just she and I.

Also the first day of VBS at our church! This is the first year our kiddos have ever gotten to go to our own church’s VBS, because it is normally in July, when we are on vacation. They were thrilled! Jack is still young enough to be in class, and Josie is helping. They loved it last night! And the Rose kids went, too, so Jake, Lindsey, Josh, and I actually got to go on a date! Fun times all around.

Memorial Day trip

For Memorial Day weekend, we headed to Willow Grove, our happy place. We were able to leave around lunchtime on Friday, since Jake was off work, and stayed until Wednesday. It was a good, relaxing trip, just what we needed. It was abnormally cold for Memorial Day, but that didn’t keep the kids from swimming….Jack’s lips turned blue a few times, but he survived, LOL. There was fishing, movie watching, board game playing, and laying in the hammocks. There was a lot of junk food eaten and boat rides with Grammy and Pappy. There were lots of walks and bike rides and reading and soaking up sunshine. It was good.

Friends

This weekend Gloria and the kids were traveling through Nashville, so we met up with them and a few other families from church at a park for lunch. It was so good to get to see them and talk for a bit, and the kids were overjoyed to play with their MO friends for awhile. Seeing all the kids together made us realize HOW MUCH they have all grown in the past few years! It is really amazing.

17 years

This weekend Jake and I celebrated SEVENTEEN years of marriage! 17 seems like such a big number. Sometimes it seems like those years have flown by, and sometimes it seems like we have been together for much longer than that. They have been good years, though. That much I know for sure.

Nana kept the kiddos for us so we could go to dinner to celebrate. We went to O-Ku, one of our favorite restaurants in Nashville. We had some delicious Japanese dishes and a new-to-us Japanese dessert. The waitress even brought us some “mock-tails” to celebrate. It was a good night. 🙂

May so far

Here are some more happy moments from May, so far:

Jack got to have a sleepover with his very best friend, Finn.

Justin and Kelsey let Jake and I use their Nashville SC tickets one Sunday. It was so much fun to be in a stadium again, even with masks on!

We’ve had several dinners with friends at our house. I don’t even have pictures of others, but this was a great night with Dan and Hannah-it had been a long time since we’d gotten to hang out with them!

We got zinnias planted at the farm, right before we went to Denver. It was a beautiful night to be at the farm! Jake also got some sunflowers planted last night. Our farm is going to be BEAUTIFUL this summer!

The kids had their Spring Concert at school. Jack was so excited to get to have a dancing part in his class’ song, and Josie has been looking forward to singing these songs in concert since AUGUST. They did an awesome job. She was most excited about “Down to the River to Pray” that the upper school girls performed- I was so impressed. They have SUCH an awesome music teacher at school.

Jack got to have Claire over last night, kind of unexpectedly- I love their sweet friendship. Josie got to go to her best friends’ house for a birthday sleepover!

May has been so busy so far, but I’ve been glad for the sense of normalcy we’ve finally gotten back. Thankful for Covid vaccines and low Covid numbers in TN. I’ve signed Josie up for her first vaccine! I can’t wait until both kiddos are vaccinated and life can truly return to “normal” (whatever that is, LOL).

Denver

This past weekend Jake and I took a trip to Denver. We’d been through Denver a couple of times on our way to other places, but never actually stayed there. So when Jake found some super cheap airline tickets, we jumped at the chance! It was a birthday, Mother’s Day, and anniversary trip, all rolled into one. The kids stayed with Grammy and Pappy. Jake and I flew out super early on Saturday morning, and got to Denver early enough for brunch. We found our hotel and checked our bags in, and then walked to a nearby cafe. It was delicious!

After brunch, we walked around, shopping and sight seeing until we could get into our hotel room.

We stayed at Union Station, and the room was beautiful. We took a good nap, and then I headed over to the spa for my Mother’s Day treat- a full mani/pedi. It was wonderful. While I was doing that, Jake wandered around Denver, taking in the sights. He walked a LOT of steps that day!

We met back up at the hotel, and then wandered around some more. Jake took me to the REI he had found- FOUR stories! We found some pizza and ice cream for dinner before going back to the hotel for the night to enjoy our super comfy room. But not before happening on the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen-the sun setting behind the Rockies on a cloudy day.

We slept late on Sunday morning, and ordered room service for breakfast-it was delicious. Then we took a long walk, stopping a restaurant to get some appetizers for lunch, and then wandering through the Rino Art district.

We took more time to find me some good coffee and then to be lazy in our hotel room before wandering back out for dinner at a burger joint super close to the hotel.

Monday morning we were up early to catch the train back to the airport and fly back in time for Jake to work and me to make it to the kids’ spring concert. Abrupt end to our trip, but it was SUCH a good trip. I’m so glad we got to take it-to relax, enjoy each other’s company, and just to get to have uninterrupted time together. Just what we both needed.

Ryan

I’ve been avoiding writing this blog post for a couple of weeks now. Because I just didn’t have the words. And I still don’t. But I can’t avoid it any longer. At the end of April, our good friend Ryan lost his fight with cancer. I hate cancer. So much. With a passion I can’t even convey.

Ryan was the husband of a wonderful wife, and a dad to three beautiful kids. They went to church with us for several years, went camping with us, hung out at our house, cooked out with us, hiked with us, and all kinds of fun stuff until they moved to Missouri to be closer to family. We saw them even after they moved, though-we met up with them when we took our trip out west, and they came to visit us whenever they came to TN-they even stayed overnight in our camper on one trip.

Ryan was full of life and adventure and the love of God. He lived a beautiful life. He loved his family and friends deeply and fully. He loved doing so many things, and did those things with care and skill.

He will be so deeply missed.

On the third, we went to Missouri for his celebration of life service. It was wonderful testament to a life well lived, but also so surreal. I still can’t believe he’s gone.

Will you join me in praying for his sweet family?

7th Grade Protocol Dinner

Saturday night was Josie’s 7th grade protocol dinner, something she has been eagerly awaiting for weeks! At school, they have a specific mini course on “protocol,” learning manners and expectations for how to behave at a fancy event. Then they get to have a dinner to practice those manners.

She had such an awesome time! The person in charge asked me to come just at the beginning to take a few pics, and it was so fun to see all of them all dressed up!