Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Rest Of The Week

I promise not to do this every week, but I just had to show you these cuties on the second day because these were the outfits they really wanted to wear on the first day had we been able to get our acts together.

Ellie's shirt pretty much sums her up and says, "I bring sass to the class."  Bless it!  She is a hot mess.  She worn the shirt on her first day of preschool and again at Open House, so I made her wear something else with promises that she would pick her wardrobe on day two.

Eli had put his clothes in the wrong drawer, so I thought they were dirty.  I tore the house up look for them and am thrilled he got to look "too cool for school" on day two!

And finally, I had to show you a look we don't see much on Ellie.  Here's she's sporting her P.E. look!  I think it suits her well. Hahaha! Ok, I promise not to become a fashion blogger, but ya'll, they actually let me take pictures!

Monday, August 13, 2018

First Day of School 2018

Well, summer came and went and I'm still behind on blogging.  Instead of trying to get caught up, I'm going to just start fresh and back date posts as I can.  Eli turning nine over the weekend made me realize how much I need to cherish these precious years. This blog has always been a place for me to do that, and I'm eager to jump back into it!

Let's wipe the slate and start here...

August 8th was our first day of school here in Southern Kentucky.  I know that seems early to some, but we get some really nice breaks throughout the year and we get out early in the summer.  Plus, it helps with childcare costs, so I'm all about it!

Eli is starting fourth grade and is in class with two buddies from his baseball team.  I feel so, so sorry for that teacher.  He and I have had some discussions on making wise choices and not talking too much.  Haha!

Ellie is in kindergarten and also has some friends in her room.  She is so ready for this new adventure and could hardly sleep the night before.  She didn't bat an eye when I dropped her off, which was both comforting and heartbreaking.

Our tradition is to eat breakfast at McDonalds before school on the first day since it's the only time we aren't running late, and then we enjoy dinner at the Mexican restaurant in town before Wednesday night church.  Eric joined us to eat, and we loved hearing all about their first day and the new adventures that lie ahead!  2018-19 is going to be a good one!

Friday, August 3, 2018

But If Not

As a lover of words, written, spoken, performed, read, or recited I find that certain phrases tend to resonate deep within my heart and embed themselves in the soul of my being.  I recall them in good times and hard times.  They weave themselves into the rhythm of my thoughts and bring both strength and peace on the days that my soul is weary.

One of those phrases is “But If Not.” 

The words are strung together in the book of Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace, and as the guards were seizing them, they proclaimed the mighty strength of God and his ability save them.  Mid sentence they change gears and say, “but if not,” they will continue to serve him.

On the surface, those words seem so contradictive to someone walking in faith.  Of course our God can. He is the Lord of heaven and earth!  His words alone  spoke all of creation into existence.  He can move mountains, calm storms, and mend the broken hearted.  He can make the lame walk and the blind see.  He can breathe life into a dying soul and mend the broken hearted.  All power is his alone.

But what happens when the answer is “no,” when the healing never comes; when the need is not met? 

What I’m coming to learn is that the phrase, “but if not” is not a statement lacking faith but perhaps the greatest proclamation of faith there is. It shows complete surrender to our own will and acknowledges that no matter, God is still good.

He is the Great Phycian with healing in his wings who will heal our bodies…but if not, he is still good and there is complete healing on the other side of eternity because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that by his stripes we are healed.

He is the Counselor and Mighty God who says there is not a relationship be wont’ mend…but if not, he draws close to broken hearted and the crushed in spirit.  He is a friend to the friendless, and the one who sticks closer than a brother. And when we walk with him, we are never alone.

He can walk on water and calm the storm…but if not, he whispers “peace, be still.”

He can bind our enemies and fight our battles…but if not, he is our ever-present help in trouble who will never leave us nor forsake us.

He can give us riches untold…but if not, he will provide for us according to his riches and glory because he is the God who takes care of the flowers in the field and the birds in the sky, and he will take care of us.

“But if not” doesn’t mean that our God can’t do something, it just means that he is going to do something better. 

My friend recently shared the lyrics to a song that really resonated with me:

“Help me want the Healer more than the healing. Help me want the Savior more than the saving. Help me want the Giver more than the giving. Help me want you Jesus more than anything.”
To me, that’s what it means to say “but if not.”  Because there is no greater joy or peace than knowing Him and being surrounded by his presence.

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but I do know that no matter what, God is still good!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

2018 Vacation: Day Three

Because we didn't love the beach at Harbor Island, we decided to explore Hunting Island to start the week.  It's a private island that requires a pass or fee to enter and was absolutely amazing, plus it was only about a mile from where we were staying.  As a side note, parts of Forrest Gump were filmed at this location.

When arriving at Hunting Island, you drive through a preserve area that is rich with wildlife and nature.  It is breathtaking and reminds me so much of parts of Mexico's coast that are untouched by time.  

The island also offers a conservation center with daily activities and a lighthouse with tours available until 4:30 each day.  We didn't do either activity because our kids were more interest in playing than learning, but my brother and his family did the lighthouse tour with my dad and they all report that it was a fantastic experience.

While most of the beach is clear, there was a neat coral formation that was perfect for taking pictures and finding really unique shells.  We had buckets full by the time we left each day and several of our finds had living sea creatures still inside them, so we returned them to the water.

Sand dollars were everywhere.  We started collecting them but by the end of the day, we just kinda looked at them and through the back in the ocean to live a good life.  Ha!  Actually, we kept quite a few because they make great ornaments and are perfect for necklaces is you have talented friends who can make jewelry. 

As for enjoying the beach, our kids are water babies.  They love the ocean and had no reservations about running full speed into the water.   Eli could spent hours jumping waves and Ellie was in mermaid heaven pretending she was Ariel. 

After spending several hours enjoying the sun, we packed up and headed to what we heard was the best seafood market in the region.  It was our night to cook and we had plans for a shrimp boil!  

It was delicious and even better than we enjoy at home because, hello, fresh sea food!  We rounded out the night with a quick trip to Wal-Mart and golf cart drive around the island. Life doesn't get much better than that... nor does a vacation get more relaxing!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

2018 Vacation: Day Two

Sunday was our first full day, and we were more than ready to hit the beach with the kids!  After "sleeping in" and sipping on some coffee, we loaded up all of our gear and headed out for some fun in the sun!

The island had a private beach that was a short golf-cart ride from the house and easily accessible from a board walk.  I'm not gonna lie, that particular beach wasn't my favorite.  It was an inlet so the water was very murky and the sand had a mud-like consistency.  Remember the crab from yesterday?  Yeah, poor Eli got bitten as soon as he stuck his foot in the water. I think it was a hermit crab thankfully, but how random is that?

The best part was that when the tide went out, the beach was almost a quarter-mile long with little shallows of water that were perfect for the babies.  Even though I didn't love the beach for a traditional experience at the ocean, it was gorgeous to look at and perfect for a morning or evening stroll!

Since we weren't loving the beach, we went to the pool after lunch and spent several good hours playing with the kids and relaxing before dinner.  Each family picked a night to cook so that we could save some money since we all have trips planned for later in the year. And let's be honest, it's difficult wrangling kids while waiting on a table for twelve. Sunday was my brother's night to cook, and we had pork roast, beans, and potato salad.

Here's a view off of our back porch!  Ya'll, it was unbelievable and the picture of southern culture.  I was in heaven and could have sat in the rocking chairs staring out at the marsh for hours and hours. 

After dinner on the first night, we dressed and headed into Beaufort.  If you read Southern Living you already know that it's been named "America's Best Southern Town" about half a dozen times, so I was almost giddy getting to take it all in.  It's very reminiscent of Charleston if you've ever been, and it has a similar setup along the waterfront.  

After learning more of its history, it's no surprise that Charleston and Beaufort are so much alike.  They were both flourishing communities along the state's coastline, which made them epicenters for trade, commerce. culture and society. They were in a race to become the most prominent city in South Carolina and were truly neck-in-neck until the Civil War. 

The architecture is amazing and the city has done an amazing job preserving the history and ambience of the town.  Even "trendy" new establishments were tucked away inside the incredible buildings.  The old and new exist side-by-side, which gives the area a unique flare. 

My favorite area was the park on the waterfront.  It had benches for visitors to swing on as they looked out into the water.  There was a playground with a ship and antebellum home, two ice cream parlors, and plenty of space for families to run and explore. 

We attempted family photos on the waterfront before walking the historic district, and I'm quite thrilled with how they turned out considering we had so many little people to get looking in the right direction!

The little photo session took way too long for the kiddos, bless their little hearts!  I have to say that I love that Eli and Ellie are getting more independent.  They wanted to help with the babies and when it was time to walk the streets, they could keep up.  They asked a lot of questions, and I think they truly enjoyed learning about the history of the area. 

Ellie kept trying to wear the Spanish moss as a scarf, which was a terrible idea because it was full of chiggers.  Thankfully we had sprayed her down with bug repellent, so she didn't get eaten alive.  Meanwhile, my mom asked me to break in a pair of shoes for her...terrible idea!  I had blisters the rest of the week.  We were a hot mess, ya'll!

Just look at these houses.  Can you even imagine living like this?  Most of them are businesses or bed and breakfasts now, but I could just day dream for hours about living in that era.  The heat had to have been a nightmare!  Anyway, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves....

After our little self-guided walking tour, we enjoyed some ice cream and let the kids play before heading back to the house on Harbor Island.  Don't worry, we were back for more later in the week!

Monday, July 2, 2018

2018 Vacation: Day One

For the first time since before I was married, we took a vacation with my entire family!  The party of 12 included my parents, my siblings, their spouses and kids, and my little crew.  We stayed in a precious little house on Harbor Island in South Carolina and had the very best time being together as a family.

Typically Eric and I like to leave for vacation on the Friday evening of our departure so we can split up the drive for our kids.  But with another trip planned for later this year, we decided to save money and hit the road bright and early Saturday morning.  We were hoping Eli and Ellie would stay asleep, but no such luck.  Worry not, they were good little travelers minus a few too many pitstops for potty breaks - which was a welcomed change of pace following the "gum incident" of 2017 when Eli put gum in Ellies hair!

If you've been around for a while, you know our drill...no chain restaurants on vacation.  You also know that we basically plan our trips around getting to eat at Smokin' Pig in Macon and Valdosta.  Since neither were in the cards this year, we kept the BBQ tradition alive and found this little joint somewhere in Georgia. 

It was good and the kids enjoyed it, so we'll chalk it up to a win even though I'm still grieving missing out on Smokin' Pig.  There's always this winter, ya'll!

My brother and parents were well ahead of us, but somehow we managed to make it to the house before them.  Of course, I was completely unprepared for this and had no idea where the keys were, what the code was, or anything else.  To make matters worse, there was no cell service so we couldn't call my brother or look back through old emails. I'm sure that surprises no one.

Luckily, may parents were just behind us to save the day!  After a nice round of greetings and checking out the house, we headed straight to the beach.  They wildlife was incredible...just look at this crab!

The South Carolina coast is so much different than anything I've experienced on the gulf.  It was a lot of marsh land, but the homes were spectacular and the island was a quaint little dream like something out of a movie!

After checking out the beach, we started unloading the cars while we waited for my sister and her family to arrive.  Once everyone had settled in, we headed out for dinner at Johnson Creek Tavern. It was a fun atmosphere with a great "Low-Country" vibe, but it wasn't my favorite place we ate during the week.

The kids ran around and played in a little sand area, which was nice since we had a bit of wait to be seated.  Meanwhile, everyone was getting eaten up with mosquitos.  They were no joke people!  My advice would be to take bug spray if you head to coastal Carolina!

The food was very pleasant. I had blackened fish tacos and Eric had the shrimp and grits.  Both were delicious but slightly overpriced in my opinion.  I think it ended up being our most expensive dinner all week. 

After dinner, we got the kids settled and then I headed to WalMart with my brother and his wife for groceries because I didn't want to waste valuable beach time getting groceries for the week.  I think it was about midnight when we finished, so I was worn plum out, especially after being up so early to hit the road.  But it was worth it!  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Stand For Children Day

Each summer I get to enjoy a morning at the Bowling Green Ballpark participating in Stand For Children Day.  It's a way to give back to the community as thousands of children from across the area come and enjoy a morning of activities...and my little blondie usually comes with his summer camp!

I was running a little head ahead of schedule for once (thank you amazing coworkers), so I picked up a coffee and enjoyed a few minutes of quiet with this wonderful view! Actually, I spend many early mornings looking at ballparks, but this time I didn't have game day nerves.  Ha!

We gave out 500 apples this year and met the greatest kids...of course I'm partial to these two cuties!