Monday, December 1, 2014


We had so much to be thankful for this year.

We had a house full of people we love.  My mom wanted to get a picture with everyone together so we did that.  This is only a PART of the people who filled our house on Thanksgiving Day.  It was definitely a full house.

It was loud and crazy and joyful and I feel like every person there represents a blessing in my life.

My mom was able to be there.  Just a few weeks ago, we were standing beside her hospital bed while the doctor was telling us she might not be able to come off a ventilator after surgery since her lungs were so weak.  We were gathering her jewelry and rings and signing a DNR and standing over her praying and watching my Dad cry.  We didn't know if watching her being rolled away for surgery might be the last time we would see her awake and alert ever again.  But we had so many people praying for her.  Even several of her doctors prayed over her.  And look at her now!

We are so thankful.  God answered our prayers and she has fully recovered.  Now we just need to pack some pounds back on her.  We tried to fatten her up with lots of turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving Day!

All my sweet kids were in town.  I love them all so much.  It is so much fun having everyone home!

And we had so much food.  Everyone brings something and I couldn't even fit it all on my counter top.  What???  I know so many people around the world are hungry and we have so much.  It's humbling to me.

We did lots of the fun things I love to do at holiday time.

We watched lots of football.  We also watched Christmas movies and had a fire in the fireplace and drank hot chocolate and played games.

My girls and I were talking about what our favorite things about Christmas are.  For me, it's just the simple things like movies and hot chocolate or looking at Christmas lights or getting together with friends.  All those things are even better than Christmas morning!  What are your favorite things?

Steve's mom's 75th birthday was the day after Thanksgiving.  We are so thankful for her!  She is fun and bubbly and creative.  She is a wonderful cook and she has a beautiful yard with all kinds of birdhouses and flowers.  She is creative and can do anything from sewing to knitting to painting.  She is a nurturer and she is a wonderful mother and grandmother who always makes time for her family.  Through the years, she has done so many fun things with my kids and all her grandchildren.  She values family and is intentional about thinking of ways she can invest time in the lives of the people she loves.  So many times I have come over to her house and she was making a meal to take to someone who was sick or had just had a baby.  She visits the hospital and for many years at Christmastime, she would make baskets to deliver to the hospital waiting rooms and to all her friends.  Just this year she prepared close to twenty pecan pies to deliver to the homeless at Thanksgiving.  She truly has a servant heart and we are so blessed to have her in our lives!

We celebrated by going out to dinner with the whole family.

Afterwards, we invited some of her friends over to her house for cake and ice cream.  She has some wonderful life-long friends who she loves so much.  They have done so much together through the years and walked along side each other through all of life's ups and downs.  They are there for each other and that is one of the best blessings you can have!

We had such a wonderful few days.  Unfortunately, yesterday Lindy and Mark both came down with the flu--so we are now all just trying to stay well and healthy.  Mark has to drive back to Washington today because he has to be in class tomorrow.  I feel so bad for him having to make that trip with a fever and aches.  And Laura is flying back to Boston tonight so she has been washing her hands and staying as far away from Mark and Lindy as possible.  Looks like we will just be staying home and eating chicken noodle soup and watching more football for the next day or so here.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter Chill

Good news!  My mom got to go home from the hospital yesterday!!  That was a huge surprise.  We thought it would be the end of the week, but she was doing so well the doctors sent her home.  I truly believe it was all the people she had praying for her.  God answered our prayers and I am so thankful.  My dad texted me this morning and said she had a great first night at home and she was up drinking her coffee!  

I saw this quote this morning and it rang so true to me...

Even the blackest day or the scariest hour or the worst moment will not last forever.  You will get through it and things will ultimately get better.

Today winter decided to show up here in Charlotte.  It is only the middle of November and it is already below freezing here (like it probably is where you live, too!)  This is what the weather app said it was going to be like here today, but it was only kidding.  The high here today was 36!

Let me just tell was a COLD recess today!  Some of my kids were begging to come inside!

I know a lot of people really hate winter.  My husband is one of them.  He is just not a fan.  But we are kind of opposites in that way because I love ALL the seasons.  That is one reason why I love where I live so much!  All the seasons are very distinct here and just about the time you get sick of one, it is time for something new.  I love summer the most, but every season is fun to me and full of beauty and change.  That keeps life interesting!

I guess what I love about winter is the coziness of it.  Steve and I have been keeping our window cracked just a tiny bit at night so our bedroom is really cold.  Then we get all snuggled up under our warm blankets and THAT, my friends, is some good sleeping weather!

And what is better than a fire crackling in the fireplace on a cold night?  Throw in some hot chocolate and a good movie or book and you've got a perfect night!

Here are just a few of my other winter favorites:

All things Christmas, of course!

Cute jackets, warm fuzzy socks, coats, scarves, and mittens.

Snow.  Teachers love snow days as much as the kids do!

How clear the stars are on a winter night & the hint of smoke in the air from a fireplace nearby.

My Uggs.

The stark beauty of the winter trees.

The stillness.

And, red cups at Starbucks.

And, speaking of the things I love about winter.  Comfort food is definitely at the top of the list.  This week I tried two new recipes that were so good for a cold, winter night.  I thought I would share them with you!

The first one was from Damn Delicious.  It was called Baked Chicken and Mushroom Skillet.  My whole family loved it!  I served it with potatoes, roasted butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts.

The other one was Pioneer Woman's rice pudding.  That just sounded so good to me this afternoon after school.  Something warm and creamy and sweet felt like the perfect comfort food when it was so cold outside.  And it was!  Here is the recipe.

So...with all those fun, wonderful things going can you NOT love winter?!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

You Never Know never know what a day is going to hold for you.  Thursday morning, I woke up and got ready for another beautiful fall day.  I was thinking about the holidays and who was bringing what to Thanksgiving dinner and what Christmas presents I still needed to get.  I got to school and got the day going and had just taken my class to Music when I got a call from Ashley saying my mom had been taken to the ER with intense stomach and chest pain.

I told my principal the situation and she was so sweet and told me to go right away!  She gave me a big hug and prayed with me and told me not to worry one minute about my class--they would be taken care of.  When I got to the hospital, my mom was in so much pain.   Apparently, she had something similar to an intestinal blockage.  The doctors were there with my dad and my brothers and everyone was deciding what to do.  The problem with my mom is that she already has ALS, so any decisions we make have to take that into consideration.  The doctor thought the surgery would probably go well, but the problem would be when she had to come off the ventilator after surgery was over.  Would her lungs be strong enough to do that on their own?  We didn't know.  And there was the possibility that they wouldn't.  Saying goodbye to my mom as she was rolled into surgery was very scary since we were unsure of what condition she would be in when she came out.

We had so many people praying for her already though, and we knew that she was in God's hands.  And He was so good to us.  He answered our prayers.  The surgery went as well as it could have and she was able to come off the ventilator within a day!  Today when I went to see her she was sitting up in bed trying to fix her hair and had already gotten up to walk around a little bit!  We are so thankful.

My mom had to have emergency surgery yesterday. Needless to say, it has been a very stressful 24 hours. Her body is already compromised by ALS so anything like this is extra hard. But it has been such a blessing to see all the people who love her so much who have come by and prayed over her and told her, "My life is different because you were a part of it. Thank you for telling me about The Lord and loving me through the years." Thanking God today for being with us even on the hard days and for sweet friends who take the time to brighten our day.

Saturday we kept David, Caroline and Will while Ashley and John ran a 5K.  Ashley has been working so hard to get her baby weight off.  She has been running almost every day since June and it has paid off!  She looks great and she even beat John's time.  I am so proud of her!  It was absolutely FREEZING here on Saturday morning, so they are all bundled up!

While they were gone, we fixed breakfast for everyone.  Steve had bought David a really fun track and they played with it all morning.  

And this little pumpkin is getting so big and sitting up all by himself now!

Caroline wanted to read lots of books and that is fine with me.  She was so soft and snuggely in her little footie pajamas.

This weekend was also Ashley and John's five year anniversary.  They sure have gone through a lot of life changes in these five years with jobs and mortgages and three babies!  I will always remember the day they got married and how pretty Ashley looked and what a beautiful fall day it was!  I am so happy for them and thankful they have a happy marriage.

And, speaking of fall days....oh my word!  I cannot get over my neighborhood right now.  Seriously...driving through it this weekend was just as good as a trip to the mountains.  The middle of November is definitely the peak of fall beauty here in Charlotte!  I have to share a little bit with you. the countdown begins until the HOLIDAYS!!  Woo hoo!  I am so excited about that.  Last night Steve and I went out to dinner and then went to the mall and walked around looking at all the Christmas decorations and doing a little window shopping.  It is such a fun time of the year and I have so much to be thankful for.  

I already have my Christmas music playing and I am so ready for all my kids to be home and for parties, decorating, good food, Christmas movies, cold weather, and lots of magical fun.  Bring it on! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sweet Baby Boy

We had such a nice weekend.  I got the sweetest little note on Friday before I left school from one of my students.

The weather was gorgeous here this weekend.  Our neighborhood is starting to look so pretty.  Every time I drive through-it in any season really-it just amazes me with it's beauty.

We had lots of down time, which was much needed.  We just relaxed and hung out at home a lot.

I got some early Christmas shopping done on Saturday morning in my pajamas with coffee in hand.  THAT is my favorite kind of Christmas shopping! :)

I tried to get my Christmas cards done, but they still need a little more work.

Ashley brought the kids over on Saturday and we spent some time outside with them.

And on Saturday night we went to dinner with my brother, Brent and his wife, Britney.  We knew she was due this week, so we wanted to squeeze in dinner with them before their lives got crazy.  I am so glad we did, because she had a sweet baby boy yesterday!!

He is so precious with a head full of black hair and little round cheeks.

They already have two little girls, so they are beyond excited to have this little boy.  There is just something so sweet and special about little boys.  I love all my girls so much, but I think there is a special bond between boys and their mommies.  They are in for so many fun things.  It was a happy day.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

November Things

It has been a regular week here.  It is getting very November-ish.  It is getting dark early and all the leaves are turning so pretty.  The middle of November is usually when the leaves here are at their peak.  That is in about a week!

I have started to get "holiday brain" thinking about Thanksgiving and who is bringing what and I have been starting to do some online Christmas shopping.

I got my first red cup of the season....

And I am officially addicted to all the yummy Bath and Body Works candles that are out at this time of year.  Apparently I like the seasonal candles because my favorites are Autumn and Winter.

And I laughed when Ashley sent me this text this week....


Balance is always challenging at this time of year for me.  I want to do all the fun holiday things and be the best mom and holiday hostess, but I am so busy at school too.  I get up every morning at 5:15 and I am at my desk by around 7:15.

It is a full day of teaching and loving on kids and that can be tiring sometimes, but I know it is what God has called me to do.

After school we have had things going on every night this week.  Tuesday night I kept David, Caroline, and Will for Ashley so she could go to MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers).  Usually Steve goes with me, but he had a meeting at church that night so I was on my own.  It is a different story when I am there by myself!  Haha!  I wonder how on earth I ever did it with four babies under four years old?   I know there were times when I was stressed out, but time really does erase all the bad memories.  All I remember now is all the fun we had!

Will had just started a new formula that he wasn't a huge fan of the night I went over there.  He was very serious and even a little fussy.  Poor little thing.  He is always the SWEETEST angel, so I hate it when he is not himself.

And this cute thing just has my heart.  We were sitting in the chair together watching Frozen and I got out my camera to take a picture.  She saw the camera and said, "CHEESE!!"  Ok...she is just a doll baby.

Ashley took this picture of her not too long ago that I just love...

Poor David had pink eye that night.  Oh my word.  It looked so awful!  But thank goodness he is feeling better now.  When Ashley sent me this first picture, I could hardly stand to look at it.  That's the worst case of pink eye I think I've ever seen and I have seen LOTS of pink eye in my years of teaching!  Bless his heart.

Last night Steve and I met Lindy for Mexican food and then came home to watch the CMAs.  I thought Carrie Underwood looked so cute pregnant.  I love her and Brad Paisley hosting together.

Tonight we finally had a night at home, so I made us a big pot of homemade vegetable soup.  I am planning on reading a little bit and maybe watching an episode of The Good Wife and getting to bed early!  Tomorrow is Friday!! Woo hoo!  We don't have any big plans for the weekend except getting dinner on Saturday night and that's the way I like it!