Happy Birthday Rylee!

Happy 7th  Birthday Rylee!  It is quite something for me to think back and remember waiting 6 long days to even hold you in my arms after you were born 5 weeks early.  You fought hard to breathe, to live and faced incredible challenges in the first year of your life.  You overcame and your body was restored to perfect health.  And now, healthy as can be, you are turning 7.  I am amazed and blessed to know you.  You live with a certain amount of pressure and responsibility that always come along with being the first born.  You want to please, to succeed and to do things right.  You care a lot if you don’t do those things.  It is a quality that you come by naturally and one that will be both a blessing and a challenge in the years to come.  Your smile is bright when you share it-which is usually often, you are cautious and think before acting.  You are an amazing little reader and like learning when it’s on your terms.

Your greatest trait is the heart of compassion and care for others.  You often see a need before I do and do all you can to meet it.  You are tremendously sensitive to what is going with the people around you.  You ask more questions than most kids I know and I am praying for enduring patience to answer them and to foster the gift God gave you in that inquisitive nature.  You don’t want to miss anything.    And I don’t want to miss the delight it is to have you as our firstborn.  You are growing fast and you are abundantly loved.  You are like your daddy in that you are at your best at night, you lay in bed and read to me for as long as I let you.  You talk and talk and I try to stay awake to listen.  You love to sleep in and love being cozy.

Your presence made me a mother.  Your prayers (along with God’s providence) gave me another daughter to be your sister.  Your laughter is a daily blessing.  Your nurturing heart makes me smile.

Love always,

Mama

A long anticipated gift!

After hearing quite the ruckus out in the chicken pen, I went out to check on the ladies.  After rounding up one escapee who had flown the fence in search of all my growing veggies, I peeked inside the nesting box just to see if anything was there.  And lo and behold, there was!  There was quite the buzz of excitement around here, each kid got dibs on who they got to call and tell the news to.  Caleb told Auntie “We growed some eggs from our Blacky!”  So in the course of 10 minutes, the eggs went from this:

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to this

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and this

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to, sadly, this.

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We can hardly wait for more.

They were so delicious and it felt so amazing to have raised these chickens from babies and now to be eating their eggs!

Happy Birthday Kyler!

After celebrating Isaac’s birthday on Friday, then the 4th of July on Saturday, we geared up for Kyler’s birthday this past Monday.  It was a crazy weekend but wonderful.  Christopher had his first paid day off since starting his new job in January.  We (just mama mostly) are still getting used to a different schedule and a lot less time with Daddy than we’ve ever had before.  It’s still hard.  So to have more than just a day or half day was such a special treat.

I had felt some sense of urgency and a lot of pressure to make Kyler’s birthday extra special.  We had worked hard to make Caleb’s birthday special to him and I wanted Kyler’s big day to be no exception.  I ordered fancy cupcakes from a bakery.  I shopped around for baseball figures to top the cupcakes.  I made a special trip to mall (which I despise) to go the Mariner’s store.  I shopped several thrift stores looking for M’s gear.  I dealt with the buying of tickets then on game day trying to get everyone theirs at the right time and place which proved no small task.  I bribed kids to take naps so that we’d be in good shape for game/birthday night.  I made caramel corn to bring to the game.  I put baseball favors together.

Upon thinking and reflecting on why I was so wound up over this birthday, I think the reason is two fold.  Because of the challenges and behavior of one of our children, Kyler sometimes….regularly is the brunt of difficult behavior.  And that’s hard.  It’s actually not fair.  He is the sweetest little curious boy.  He melts my heart almost daily.  And he puts up with a lot.  For one day, I think I desperately wanted him to be the center of attention with his darling self.  I wanted him to have HIS way.  I wanted him to be treated exceptionally well.  I wanted him to totally delight in something.

And delight he did.

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from the front porch…

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to city sidewalks…

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to statues of players past…

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and of players present…

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to examining gifts…

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and blowing out candles in the wind…

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to watching Jared Washburn pitch a complete shutout game against the Boston Orioles.

It was the perfect day for our sweet boy.

(Forget the fact that 5 minutes into the game and already Caleb was sobbing because he had dropped his SECOND $6 hot dog on the ground…or the fact that my husband was sitting 7 seats away from me and I had to dole out 7 hot dogs without spilling mustard on our lovely friend Jill’s lap-which proved to be a small miracle in itself…or that getting 5 children ages 7 and under down several city blocks was more stressful than I’d pictured…or also the reality that several people still needed to get their tickets from us outside the field 20 minutes before game time…or the issue of traveling with 15 fancy cupcakes in a bag simultaneous to the traveling with 5 small children-trying to care for all).

Yeah.  Forget about that and everything else.

It was the perfect day.  The perfect celebration of our third born child.

He could not have loved it more.

And we could not love him more.

For that, it was all worth it.

Happy birthday Kyler boy.

To Nashville and back!

Many pages of my journals over the past 8 years hold tears as well as more than a few prayers that  include my little sister.  One of them from 6 years ago just after Rylee was born read “Somehow, someday I want her to be someone my kids can look up to.”

With a smile on my face, I can tell you she is.  My littlest sister has overcome great challenges and some unusually, exceptionally hard times.  But this past weekend, our family had the privilege of watching her walk across the stage as she wore the trademark cap and gown and received her college diploma.  There is something even more sweet about this accomplishment for someone who worked this hard, waited this long and wanted it this much.

The night before graduation, those graduating in nursing from Belmont University take part in a special pinning ceremony.  They receive a nurses pin and can choose someone significant in their life to pin them.  Stephanie chose our grandmother Jeanne and our mother Pat, both of whom happen to be nurses themselves.  Below is Stephanie getting her pin.  It is perhaps one of my favorite photos of her of all time.  Can you see the grin on her face?  Her whole body is smiling!

close up of pinning

During pinning, I followed a super busy Audrey around as she drew all sorts of attention in her sweet little outfit (thanks Kristin!).  No matter where I put her, she found her way to the center aisle or to the stairs.  What’s not to love about those little feet?

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After the pinning we headed to Steph’s apartment for an open house/goodbye/graduation party.  It was really fun to meet her Nashville friends and especially the Dean of Nursing who has been incredible to Stephanie these past two years.

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My cousin Reed may not describe himself as a ‘baby person’ and he may indeed describe me as ‘prolific’ with all my four children.  Either way he has quite the fan in Audrey.  She was happy as a clam to snuggle in next to him on the couch and chill for a while.   They make quite the pair and are in many ways the antithesis of each other.

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Friends of my sister babysat Audrey and Isaac while we attended graduation.  Rylee totally ‘got’ the importance of it all.  It was precious having her there with us.  After all the grads entered, Steph turned and looked at us.  Can you find her?

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That night we ate at Monell’s.  I can easily say I’ve never had a dinner like that in my life.  Family style, southern food.  Consumed in amounts I can’t admit to here.  It was a lovely place with flowers everywhere and a pond where the kids were happy to have some fresh air.

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Congratulations Steph, you’ve heard it a million times this week, but we’re proud of you and we are SO glad you are home!

Rylee’s party

Rylee with puppies
Rylee with puppies
Cousin Isaac watching puppies
Cousin Isaac watching puppies
Our own Davy Crocket!
Our own Davy Crocket!

Rylee with Payton on the cart
Rylee with Payton on the cart
Rylee on a horse
Rylee on a horse
Mama and Kyler riding a horse-he was so brave!
Mama and Kyler riding a horse-he was so brave!
The boys had more fun running and playing with toy guns than riding horses or playing with puppies!
The boys had more fun running and playing with toy guns than riding horses or playing with puppies!
A treasure (candy) search in the hay pile
A treasure (candy) search in the hay pile
The birthday girl and her horse cupcakes
The birthday girl and her horse cupcakes

Our friends Mark and Holly opened up their home to us today to make Rylee’s party so special.  She has been talking to strangers at the grocery store, to anyone who will listen about her upcoming party with so much anticipation.  It was everything she’d hoped for.  Thank you!

Holly and Audrey
Holly and Audrey

Festive Fondue

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It was sure fun to have Isaac tonight.  Not only did they drop Isaac off before they headed out for some dinner, they also dropped off a fondue set and the makings for some chocolate fondue for our dessert.  It was delicious!  I was never much of a fan for fondue, but after tonight, I can see how it would be good fun from time to time.  One of our favorite restaurants is The Melting Pot, which is all about fondue, but I never really thought about having one at home.  After we ate our dinner we made the chocolate concoction and busted out the fondue.  Unfortunately, little Kyler did not eat his dinner so he could only look on with a forlorn face for the ages.  Thanks for coming over Isaac, we had a blast!  And thanks to your folks for the fondue, it was scrumptious!

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Sweet Kyler looks on...with his dinner in front of him untouched 🙁

A Big Thank You!

I owe my beautiful bride a HUGE thank you for a wonderful Father’s Day. She gave me a wonderful day from the beginning to the end. I woke up and soon found a new pair of jeans and a couple nice short sleeve shirts waiting for me. It was sunny, we went to church for worship, we fed the whole family at Ivar’s for only $18, and spent the rest of the day playing outside with our family (and toss in a little Tiger Woods every now and then).  All in all I could not have asked for a better Father’s Day.  Here are some attempts at a family picture, some seriously fun ring around the posey, and Audrey’s gift to her Daddy…falling asleep on his chest at the end of a beautiful day.  Thank you Jesus.

-Chris

30 and Beautiful

It was a day that started off with the kids riding scooters and bikes out in the front yard even before breakfast.  That’s because it was already 70 degrees by 8am.  After riding a bit, the kids ate pancakes in the driveway as the day heated up.  Not a bad way to start Karissa’s 30th birthday.

 

Kim and Sean blessed Karissa

Kim, one of Karissa’s dear friends, drove a couple of hours to wish her a happy birthday.  Kim is always welcome, but she was especially welcome as she came with coffee, fruit, gifts, and best of all the most tasty homemade scones to bake in the oven.  Thanks Kim!

 

After Kim’s visit, the day was closing in on 90 degrees so the kids enjoyed the pool, the sprinkler, and the hose.  Soon it was time for lunch and nap time.  What better way for a “one day past due” Mommy to spend her afternoon resting in her bed while Dad got the kiddos finished with their lunch and in bed.

 

Party Hats

That evening, Buzz, Dee Dee, Papa and Nana came over and brought dinner.  Dinner consisted of steak, potatoes, yummy strawberry lemonade, peanut butter pie, and lots of fruit.  Thank you everyone!  With the house so hot, we decided to eat outside, the only problem was that the picnic table in the back was still in winter conditions and needed to be cleaned off.  We got the hose out and did our best to clean it up.  However, we did not think about the fact that the wood benches would then be too wet to sit on.  With some quick thinking, we put a table cloth on and then laid out 8 towels on the benches and had everyone sit down on the mostly dry seats.   The food was delicious but it really was the party hats worn by all that made it so fun!  The quote of the dinner was from Caleb – “You don’t have very many friends at your party Mom.”  We all had a big laugh.  Karissa would not have wanted it any other way given all the circumstances.

 

After dinner, we had a great dessert but before that was served, somehow Rylee managed to get her finger smashed in the baby seat.  Papa, although 60+, moved with some serious speed and was her hero.  Once free of the seat she sat in her Daddy’s lap with some ice and water combo in a zip lock bag which she proceeded to accidentally spil into his lap.  Let me tell you even though it was 90 degrees, I would not sign up for that again.

 

Later, our friends Kris, Bekki, Jake, and Tommy came over.  It was wonderful to catch up with them and have our kids play together.  They always have such a great time with those two boys.  After a wonderful time staying up way too late with them the day was over.

 

Karissa and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful community.  We know there have been many times in life that God has used our family and friends in remarkable ways to bring comfort, joy, encouragement, and truth to us throughout the years.  We praise God and thank Him regularly for the people in our life.  Thanks to all of you who made the day so special for Karissa.

 

I love that I am married to a 30 year old hot mama.

 

-Chris