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Joy to the World!

Merry Christmas from our happy little family to yours!

Soon we’ll be posting a 2011 year in review and catching everyone up on what has been going on in our lives. But for now, we are busy celebrating Christmas with those we love. We’re so thankful for this time of year. Peace and joy and love to you and your family this season and throughout the coming year.

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Memories of Memaw

We haven’t posted in a while. We had planned another Festive Friday post for the last Friday in June, but that turned into a hectic day, with Ryan’s flight getting in late, a mad dash to White Bluff to celebrate my Memaw’s birthday (but she was feeling sick by the time we got there), throwing stuff into suitcases for an early morning trip to Texas, and then a terrifying call that my sister’s house was on fire. Thankfully, no one got hurt. As you can imagine, we’ve had a very busy summer. But all of that is a story for another day.

This past Wednesday night (or early Thursday morning really as it was 2 a.m.) we watched my dear, sweet Memaw take her last breath on this earth. I’m thankful she’s not in pain anymore, and I’m thankful for the hope of Heaven, but I sure do miss her already. Life will never be the same without her, but it certainly was made sweeter because of her time here with us. A few of the grandchildren spoke during the service on Sunday. I thought I would share what I read during the services for those who couldn’t be there.

Memories of Memaw
My Memaw always fit the perfect image of a grandmother. From my earliest memories, I remember her in the kitchen cooking, I remember her sitting at the sewing machine helping me sew, I remember her rocking in her chair and crocheting…all the classic grandmother things.

There are so many things I’ll always remember about Memaw. She was a good hugger. She laughed a lot. She loved to sing. I remember her singing “Hang down your head, Tom Dooley” when I was little. As a teenager, I loved sitting beside her in church and listening to her beautiful alto voice harmonizing. I was determined to learn how to harmonize, so I would try to sing just like her. Memaw was also a giver, always sewing or crocheting gifts for us, or even giving her own possessions. Personally I’ve inherited several items, for a porcelain egg to a guitar, simply because I mentioned how much I liked them. (Come to think of it, maybe I inherited her knack for getting what she wanted.) Of course I can’t talk about memaw without mentioning her feistiness and her zeal for life. She knew how to have a good time.

I was blessed to live so close to my Memaw and to even live with her for a time. Some of my favorite memories are of her taking care of me. Whether it was coming to my defense when the older kids would pick on me (yes, I’m talking about you Mariah 🙂 ) or when I got older and she would pick me up from school when I had migraines, I always knew she was there for me. One of my favorite memories is the year when I was sad that I couldn’t afford Christmas gifts for my friends, so my Memaw helped me sew a gift for each of them. That’s the kind of grandmother she was. My sisters and cousins tell similar stories. While Memaw helped me through migraines, my younger sister talks about how Memaw helped her through puberty, with words of wisdom and lots of Advil. There were so many of us grandchildren, but Memaw took the time to give us exactly what we needed.

My Memaw had 8 kids, 29 grandkids and 27 great grandkids, and yet she still made me feel special and loved. Now there’s a slight possibility that I wasn’t really Memaw’s favorite…but she would make me feel like it. I’ve heard the same from a lot of people — how sweet she was to them, how special she made them feel. I’m pretty sure I inherited some of Memaw’s feistiness and ability to tell it like it is, and I know I inherited her love for music, but in the end, it’s her ability to make everyone feel loved and accepted that I hope to pass on. In a big family, it’s easy to get overlooked, but I always knew that wherever Memaw was, I was welcome there, and she would be happy to see me. I’m looking forward to seeing her again in Heaven one day. Just like it’s been all my life, I know she’ll welcome me there, and she’ll be so happy to see me.  

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Happy Festive Friday! Here are some things we’ve been celebrating.

  • Happy birthday today to Ryan! So glad he got home from New Mexico in time to celebrate his birthday. He is my best friend and favorite person to be around, and I’m so thankful he was born 28 years ago
  • Happy travels to Ryan! By the end of June he will have travled to New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas within a two-month time period. I’m glad that at least half of those are trips involve me. (I’d rather have a higher percentage, but 50% isn’t too bad.)
  • Happy Friday! Don’t you just love Fridays? Fridays are great because everyone always seems so relaxed and ready for the weekend.
  • Happy Father’s Day this weekend to our dads and granddads and dad-like influences and friends who are dads. And to Ryan who is the best dog dad ever to our sweet LuLu. 🙂
  • Happy welcome home to my sweet, little memaw who was in the hospital for over a week (and it was her third time in the hospital within two months). So glad she finally got to home where she can be a little more comfortable. Praying she feels better every day.
  • Happy welcome home to my friend Stephanie who recently moved back to Tennessee from Hawaii. Steph and her husband Richie are expecting their first baby, and I’m so glad she moved back in time for us to see her so cute and pregnant. Loved catching up over dinner the other night.
  • Happy baby shower to my childhood friend Tiffany. Loved catching up at the shower, and I can’t wait to meet sweet baby Enoch.
  • Happy baby! Since our last Festive Friday post, we’ve found out even more people in our lives are expecting. Is America experiencing another baby boom, or is it just with people in our life? It’s a good thing I love babies.

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My coworker/friend Amy T. has been on a mission trip in Africa for the past couple weeks, while at the same time my childhood friend Jen C. is approaching her mission trip to Africa in July. As much as I’m excited for these two ladies, I’m also quite jealous. I love mission trips, and I love Africa. Their trips have me dreaming of hopping on a plane to go immerse myself in another culture and witness God’s creation/children in a faraway land. *sigh*

I’m choosing not to dwell on the fact that I’m stuck here, but instead to focus on the fact that I’ve had exciting adventures of my own in Africa. You might recall from this post that Ryan and I went to Swaziland in December 2009 to celebrate our good friends John and Anelle’s wedding, and also to take our delayed honeymoon in Swaziland and South Africa (Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands…as made famous by the last season of The Bachelor). I’ve been going through the pictures since I’ve had Africa on my mind, and I realized that we never posted any. So here are some of our African memories for your viewing pleasure. This is the wildlife edition.

While visiting the Kruger area, we saw so many animals. It was amazing to be able to see them roaming free in their natural habitat instead of caged up at a zoo.

We saw monkeys:

We're pretty sure this sneaky little monkey was eating mustard from our neighbor's fridge.

Isn't the little baby monkey in the middle so adorable?

Giraffes:

We think this giraffe was in love with a giraffe across the street. They wouldn't quit staring at each other.

Giraffes in the road are not nearly as concerning as elephants in the road. Although this one was reluctant to let us through.

hyenas:

Mama and babies. Hyenas aren't really scary like "The Lion King" made them out to be.

We saw springbok and a hippo and lots of other creatures too. One of the most exciting things is that we were able to see all five of the Big Five game:

Elephants

This is Grumpy the one-tusked elephant who was marching right toward our little Chevy Aveo. We knew who would win that fight. Thankfully, he decided against it at the last minute. But that's a story for another day.

Elephant march! I just love the little baby elephant on the end. This reminded me of the elephants marching in "The Jungle Book." Yes, another cartoon reference. Ryan kept laughing at me because everything I knew about the African animals I had learned from a cartoon.

Rhino

We didn't get any great pictures of the rhinos. They seemed to keep their distance.

Buffalo

This guy was ready to have his picture made!

The three amigos

Lion

I love this one. We were so close to a wild lion! Pretty, isn't it?

It's so dark because it was 3a.m. and we weren't allowed to use flash because they didn't want the lions to attack us. I love that they just lie down in the middle of the road. They obviously own the joint.

Leopard

We sat under the tree watching this guy for hours. I think he liked the attention.

Here he is about to pounce. He started playing with a meerkat just like a cat would play with a mouse.

The great thing about these pictures is that most of them were taken with our digital SLR, and we don’t have a good lens to zoom with. (Note to self: buy better lens for next African adventure.) We were just really that close! Close enough that the lions and the leopard could have jumped in our open air safari jeep at any minute. It definitely had to be one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced.

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Laughter

Found this picture of me and Ryan in Mom A.’s mobile picture gallery. I love that we are both dramatic throw-your-head-back-and-laugh kind of people. And I love that we laugh together every day.

 

 

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” –e.e. cummings

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Happy Festive Friday!

Ryan and I love to celebrate. We will use any excuse to make something into a celebration. Friday seems like a great day to recap all of the great things we’ve been celebrating lately. After all, isn’t the fact that’s it’s Friday something to celebrate in itself. So here’s to our first Festive Friday post! This one will be a recap of celebrations for the past month or so.

  • Happy Friday!
  • Happy engagement to our good friends Livi and Jake! So excited for you guys! That ones a little older than a month, but we’re still celebrating.
  • Happy baby! Or happy pregnancy! Or happy you’re going to have a baby! Not sure how to say that exactly… But we have so many pregnant friends right now! In fact, three of my bridesmaids are pregnant. Along with another one of my closest childhood friends. And one of my aunts. And a close college friend. And a coworker. And one of my coworkers just had her baby yesterday. Is it because I’m in my late 20s, or is it a baby epidemic? Either way, I’m excited! I love babies! Congratulations all of you, pregnant people!
  • Happy one-year anniversary of my back surgery (and the Nashville flood)! What a crazy (often difficult) year it has been. Ryan and I participated in the Hell or High Water 5K during the first weekend of the month, and I celebrated the fact that I could walk 3.1 miles this year compared to last year at this time when I couldn’t even walk from the couch to the bathroom.
  • Speaking of walking several miles, happy first trip to NYC for me! I had a training session in New York City last week, so Ryan tagged along with me, and we made a mini vacation out of it. We walked over 30 miles while we were there! I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do that a year ago. So glad I finally got to see NYC!
  • Happy 2-year job anniversary to Ryan who has been working at LifePoint for two years now. So proud of him for recently being promoted to Senior Compliance Analyst. So happy promotion too!
  • Happy Cinco de Mayo, Happy National Day of Prayer and Happy Mother’s Day! I think that covers the holidays from the beginning of the month.
  • Happy Memorial Day! So looking forward to a three-day weekend! We are very thankful for those who gave their lives defending our freedom.
  • Happy Tallahassee friend weekend! We are so excited to have our great friends John and Anelle stay with us this weekend.
  • Happy end of the the school year to our sweet nephews (AB Honor Roll for those smart kids) and all the other sweet kids in our lives.
  • Happy first dance recital to our sweet niece Penelopi Jane who will be performing tomorrow.

As you can see, we’ve had a lot to celebrate lately. Hope you have a happy Friday and happy Memorial Day weekend!

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I’m a pack rat. And I don’t use that term loosely. I have been known to keep piles of things that other people would have no problem throwing away. (For example, my family had to convince me to throw away my collection of 50 empty 35mm film canisters. It was so difficult for me to do that…I mean, you just never know when you’re going to need a tiny container like that, right? 🙂 )

One of the main reasons I’m a pack rat (besides a traumatic childhood experience that I’ll save for another day) is that I love the feeling I get when I happen upon something from my past that I had completely forgotten about. Whether it’s a drawing from elementary school or old junior high letters (yes, I do still have those) or an email from a few years ago.  I realize the dangers of dwelling in the past, and I don’t think that’s a problem for me. I’m very much about living in the present. But that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to take a trip down memory lane every once in a while.

Today I happened upon this little gem in an email I wrote to my younger sister Phallen in March 2007:

I really like that Ryan kid I’ve been hanging out with. It’s the strangest thing…how do I fall for these guys that I meet? I mean, I kept asking myself that about the last kid, but Ryan…he’s way different than the last kid…I mean, he’s actually a nice guy. Like a real, genuinely nice guy, and I do think he’s falling in love with me…not surprising as it is so easy to do (haha, j/k), but a little frightening as we have only been seeing each other in a maybe we could be more than BFF way for a week…I guess when you’ve got it, you’ve got it, huh? 

I went on to talk about how I didn’t know if it could ever work out because he didn’t go to church and we had different beliefs.

I obviously had no idea what God had planned for me and that Ryan kid.

Here we our with our friend Livi in March 2007.

(And just as a disclaimer, that last sentence of that email was a joke. Although I do think I have it. And I have been known to have extremely high self-esteem from time to time.)

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