In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

This Year So Far – The Highlights

Filed under: Abby Jo,Army,Birthdays,Elijah,Family,Hailey,Home,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Matthew,Me,Owen,Photos,School,Trips — Rachel at 11:46 am on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I don’t think I’ve ever let myself go so long without blogging here, and I’ve got a lot of ground to make up for. This post will be photo heavy, and just hit the highlights.


Celebrating the new year. January 1, 2015, 12:00 a.m.



Our three little guys played basketball this year. It was the first time playing basketball for all three of them, and they really enjoyed it.





Kyra played basketball on two different teams this year. This was after the game where she made her first ever 3 pointer!



We had a tremendous snow in February, and we were iced in for several days. Our road was impassable. At one point, Matthew and I had to walk out to the highway with rucksacks to meet my dad so he could take us to the grocery store to restock. These children ate us out of house and home!


They enjoyed the snow, though!







Elijah turned 11 on March 25, and Logan and Abby turned 6 the next day, on March 26. We had a birthday party for them at our house.



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Owen, Abby, and Logan all played baseball this Spring, and they were on the same team. (It was a really wide age range.) It was Owen and Abby’s first time playing baseball. Owen played catcher, and he loved it. Abby wasn’t a huge fan. I’m not sure if she will play again next year.




Enjoying the newly warm weather, I took the three boys out for ice cream one day after getting their hair cut.



Because I’m mean, I sent the above picture to the girls who were at home, and they sent me the picture below in response.




Because I’m not really a mean mama, when I took the girls for haircuts a few days later, they got ice cream, too. (We took a frappachino home to Kyra, who didn’t get her hair cut that day. No worries. I’m pretty fair.)




I had a really lovely Mother’s Day, and was so glad that I got to spend it with all six of my kids. They made me feel very loved and special.




Matt and I got to accompany the Wonder Twins on their Kindergarten field trip to the zoo. We had a blast! They loved the River Otters.


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I also got to go with Owen on his Farm Day field trip.




Abby and Logan graduated from Kindergarten, both with special awards. We were so very proud of them. (The other kids all got special awards, too, but I’m sparing you pictures of all of them. This post is already getting so long!)




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Matt and I celebrated our 1st Anniversary on May 24th with several different (kid-free) activities, including my first ever game of golf…which I loved!




Kyra had a piano recital in May, and she did a really great job playing “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter movies.IMG_3632  IMG_3633


We went on a weekend camping trip in June that we really enjoyed. It was big on fun and short on pictures. We can’t wait to go again very soon!




Matt spent nearly three weeks away from us in June. He had to go to a three day drill followed by two weeks at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin to finish ILE (a school for the Army…the equivalent of a Master’s degree). We really missed him while he was gone, but we are all very proud of him.




Kyra turned 13 on June 20th, and Owen turned 9 on June 26th. We had a party for them after Matt got home from Wisconsin. I thought it was sweet that they wanted to postpone their party until their stepdad could be there.

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Kyra had a Dr Who cake, and Owen had a Jurassic World cake. Unfortunately, I somehow missed getting a photo of Owen with his cake.






The picture below is from my birthday, which was July 4th. I turned 27 again!




I hope you enjoyed this jam packed highlight post. We did so many, many more cool things over the last seven months, and I could have shared hundreds of more photos. This post would have been a mile long, though. We are a very blessed family!




Hailey Grace is Seven!

Filed under: Birthdays,Family,Hailey,Kids,Photos — Rachel at 12:04 pm on Monday, October 6, 2014

Our middle girl had a birthday this weekend. Hailey Grace turned seven years old! She has been so very excited about her birthday. She wanted to have her party at a local park. We had a nice day, other than it was the only cold day we’ve had so far this year. It was a little chilly, but otherwise perfect.

Hailey wanted a panda bear birthday party theme. I managed to find some panda decorations online and ordered them for her, and then Matt and Mammy collaborated on her birthday cake. This was no small feat, as Matt and Mammy have been warring over who is the best birthday cake baker since March. It had split pretty much along bloodlines, with Logan and Hailey insisting Matt’s cakes were better and the other kids insisting that Mammy’s were better, until Hailey’s party. Hailey was torn, because, while she insisted her daddy’s cakes were better, she wanted Mammy’s decorating skills so she could have a panda cake. So, she asked for Mammy to make her cake, but Mammy was out of town for the days preceding her party. The compromise? Mammy made the rice paper panda and balloons for the cake, and Matt baked the actual cake and put the decorations on it. I thought the Great Baking War of 2014 was going to be laid to rest with this act of goodwill from both sides, but then Mammy started trash-talking Matt at the party, so…we’ll see. The end result, however, was a beautiful cake that Hailey loved!


Our pretty girl with her birthday cake.


Blowing out the candles!


Hailey loves her 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Carter, and she was so happy that she was able to come to her party. In this photo, Mrs. Carter was singing to her.

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Birthday presents are always the best part! 


I loved that this photo shows the braid I put in Hailey’s hair. I’ve never been able to french braid before, but I’ve taught myself on Hailey’s hair. I’m still not very good with Kyra or Abby’s hair, but the texture of Hailey’s is so different from theirs that it’s much easier for me. That’s all…just proud of a newly acquired mommy skill.


Hailey was very happy to see almost all of her grandparents at her party. She’s got four grandmothers in this photo. (Isabelle managed to evade the camera somehow. I didn’t get her in any of the photos.)


Favorite Uncle, Aunt Katie, Daddy, and Grandpa Don.




One last shot of the birthday girl. She was giving her notorious dirty look to, I think, her Mammy. Classic Hailey. 🙂

Happy birthday, Hailey Grace! I hope your seventh year brings you so much joy! We love you so very much, and are so very proud of the beautiful, smart, sweet, and funny little girl you are!

My Birthday Post

Filed under: Abby Jo,Birthdays,Family,Friends,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Love,Matthew,Me,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 1:34 pm on Sunday, July 13, 2014

My birthday this year turned out to be the best ever. Matthew worked really hard to make it special for me.

On the 2nd, Matt arranged to have our small group meet at Roane County Park to celebrate my birthday. We grilled burgers and hot dogs. The kids played at the splash pad. Matt made me an absolutely delicious triple chocolate cake, and even had candles for me to blow out. Everyone sang to me. It really is the simple things in life that make you feel so loved. After we ate cake, we went swimming in the lake. I had so much fun swimming with Matt, and jumping off the dock with him and the kiddos. It was a great day.



On the 4th, my actual birthday, Matt had arranged a surprise party for me at our house with our families. I found out about the party a couple days before, but Matt took care of everything. It was the first time that me, my parents, and all five of my brothers have been at the same place at the same time in a very long time. I even got to see my brother, Aaron, who I hadn’t seen in over a year. Matt invited everyone, grilled the burgers and hot dogs, asked my mom to make me a cake, and made sure everyone was happy. My mom asked me what kind of cake or pie I wanted, so I requested the cake that she used to make for me when I was a kid. It is so good, and was very nostalgic.

flag cake


One thing that was very fun for me was that my little brothers, Lucas and Seth, brought their guitar and drum set to play. We had learned the basics of “Don’t Stop Believing” in the couple of days before the party, and we played it together…Luke on guitar, Seth on drums, and me on piano. I’m pretty sure we drove everyone else crazy, but we had so much fun. Before everyone got there, we even sang a bunch of old hymns together. It was nice.

After a couple hours of hanging out and eating, we all loaded up and went to Kingston Park to watch the fireworks. This is my one family tradition that has been the same nearly every year since I was a young teenager. Last year, the fireworks got rained out, and we didn’t go. Every other year, though, we have been down at the lake to watch the show. It was exciting for me this year to share that experience with Matt, Hailey, and Logan, as well as Matt’s parents.

I don’t know if it was just that I am generally happier right now than I have ever been in my life or if it was because it was the first birthday with Matt and he worked so hard to make it special for me, but I can honestly say this was the best birthday I’ve ever had. I felt loved and celebrated, and I got to spend it with all the people that mean the most to me.

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Matt, Abby, and Alice (aka Grammy…Matt’s mom.)


Mammy, Kyra, and Hailey waiting for the fireworks to start.


This one is of Owen, Abby, and Logan climbing on Papaw John’s back.


Bucket List for my 31st Year

Filed under: Birthdays,Me — Rachel at 1:54 pm on Thursday, July 3, 2014

I’m thinking a lot about the typical things one might think about when their birthday rolls around. Well, if one is me, these are the typical things one might think about. I think about how I’ve grown as a person in the previous year of my life. About new experiences I’ve had. New friends I’ve made and new relationships started. I also think about the coming year, and what I want to accomplish and become.

So, in that spirit, I’ve created a bucket list of:

31 things I want to do while I’m 31

  1. Graduate from nursing school.
  2. Pass the NCLEX.
  3. Finish my novel.
  4. Go on a belated honeymoon with Matthew.
  5. Institute and maintain a date night every single week with my man.
  6. Take a different kid on a date once a month. (With six kids, it works out perfectly. I’ll get to take each kid out twice in the coming year.)
  7. Go on a family camping trip.
  8. Write more poetry.
  9. Exercise at least five days a week, every week.
  10. Go to the beach.
  11. Try a food I’ve never tried before.
  12. Go fishing.
  13. Go skinny dipping.
  14. Record a memory for every day of the year.
  15. Take more photographs with a real camera.
  16. Start an IV on an actual patient.
  17. Make out with my husband under a waterfall.
  18. Go on an overnight hike with Matt.
  19. Read at least one book a month during my school year.
  20. Buy a real Christmas tree.
  21. Run two miles.
  22. Visit a city I’ve never been to before.
  23. Go to an art museum.
  24. Plant a vegetable garden next summer.
  25. Blog five days a week.
  26. Learn to cook a new meal.
  27. Send out Christmas cards.
  28. Spend more time with mine and Matt’s families.
  29. Learn to play soccer.
  30. Pray more often.
  31. Stop cussing.


Filed under: Birthdays,Kyra,Owen — Rachel at 9:06 am on Thursday, July 3, 2014

Two of my children recently had birthdays. Kyra Joy turned 12 on June 20, and Owen Shane turned 8 on June 26. I cannot believe that they are already this old. Kyra will be entering 7th grade in August, and Owen will be entering 3rd grade. It’s going by so fast!

For their birthdays, we had a family (and a few friends) birthday party at our house. I also took Kyra and her friend, Haley, to the movies to see “The Fault in Our Stars” and to dinner. I think they enjoyed their party, and they seemed to like their gifts. Matt and I got Kyra an art set and a sketch pad. She’s really into drawing lately. We got Owen a giant troll toy to go with a castle playset I got him for Christmas, and a bunch of clothes that he really needed. They got lots of neat stuff at their party, and a load of cash and gift cards, as well.


Kyra opening her presents with her friends.



Owen opening his presents.


Mammy made Owen a dragon cake for his birthday.



For my book loving preteen, Mammy designed a cake to look like her latest favorite book.

Now We Are Thirty

Filed under: Birthdays,Family,Me — Rachel at 4:41 pm on Friday, July 5, 2013

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned thirty. Thirty! It seems so ridiculous.

I had simultaneously dreaded turning thirty and looked forward to my thirtieth birthday at the same time for the last year or so. Amy and I talked about her throwing me a birthday party. We would have friends come over and have a good time. Then we broke up, and that kind of died. I was only dreading my birthday. No fun celebration. Just reaching a dreaded milestone.

So I planned to take my kids and go on a camping trip with my parents and brothers. Then the rain came. For days it has done nothing but rain. The one thing I always do on my birthday is go watch Fireworks at the lake in Kingston, since my birthday happens to be on the Fourth of July. This year, though, for the first time that I can remember, they cancelled the Fireworks. I cannot even possibly tell you how sad I was yesterday morning.

Nothing happened the way I imagined it. Amy and I weren’t a couple anymore. There was no party. My kids were at their dad’s. It was gray and gloomy and raining. No fireworks. No friends. No presents. No cards. I admit, I laid in bed and cried.

But. (So glad there’s a “but” to this story.) But then Chris brought my kids home. He was still at the house, sitting in the living room chatting with me and Amy, when someone knocked on my door. It was my mom. She stopped on her way home from camping at the lake to tell us that they had packed everything up early and headed home because of the rain. She said they were all grilling burgers and hot dogs at my brother’s house that evening. Suddenly, it went from a horrible day with nothing to do because of the rain to a metaphorical parting of the clouds.

Me, Amy, and my kids went up to my brother’s house. We hung out with my family. We ate burgers. We played cards. Two of my brothers beat the crap out of me. (Birthday spankings are no joke when you are frickin’ thirty!) Strangely enough, we spent over an hour singing. We were playing cards, and I randomly started singing “Just A Little Talk With Jesus” while I was dealing. My mom joined in with me, and then my brothers and sister-in-law and Amy. We sang song after song. Lucas went and got his guitar. We mostly sang church songs, but I must admit we sang “Friends In Low Places”, “Ice, Ice Baby” and “Baby Got Back”, too. Shh. Don’t tell. It wasn’t something that we have done before, but it was actually really fun. After we sang, we had a delicious ice cream cake that my sister-in-law, Misty, made for me. I went home with a smile on my face and some really good memories.

It wasn’t what I had been looking forward to for a year, but, even without cards or presents or lots of friends, my birthday was redeemed, despite the torrential rains. I had my family, my kids, and my very best friend with me, and, dang it, we had a good time.

Happy Birthday, Chris!

Filed under: Birthdays,Chris,Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos,Videos — Rachel at 6:13 pm on Thursday, May 7, 2009


Today is my handsome husband’s 33rd birthday. In order to get in shape for Army this summer, Chris is on a diet. So he got to celebrate, not with our customary lasagna and cake (cheesecake if he’s lucky), but with plain chicken breast and steamed veggies. He got a yogurt for dessert.  His birthday activities included working out and going to work. Whole lotta yay, right? Poor guy. One thing he does  have going for him today is the fact that he has four beautiful children who adore him. They picked him flowers (white clover), and then they made him this video.

As he headed out the door to work this evening, I said, “Happy birthday, honey.” He smiled and said, “I’m one year closer to dying now.”

That’s the spirit, Baby!

Happy birthday, Christopher. I love you!

My Baby is Six!!!

Filed under: Birthdays,Family,Kids,Kyra,Photos — Rachel at 12:10 pm on Friday, June 20, 2008

Today is my first baby’s sixth birthday. It’s hard to believe it’s possible that she could be that old. Time has really flown since this day six years ago. I still remember it all like it was yesterday. God sent us a special blessing when he gave us our Kyra Joy.

We had her birthday party…as well as Owen’s… last Saturday, since her Daddy was off that weekend. She had a Creation party, since she has been all into the Creation story since she went to VBS at my mom’s church. Here are some photos from their party:

Kyra and Owen’s Birthday Party

Happy birthday, Kyra Joy! I love you more than words could ever express. I got my beautiful baby girl six years ago, and you were everything I ever dreamed of or hoped for. I love you, Baby!

Birthday Party!!!

Filed under: Birthdays,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 9:49 pm on Saturday, June 30, 2007

I failed to blog about them on their birthdays, but Kyra turned five on the 20th and Owen’s first birthday was the 26th. Today, we had a party for both of them.


Here are most of the kids. I think it’s everyone but Owen.


Kyra got lots of really great presents.


Kyra was really excited about all of her great new toys!


Owen needed a little help with his stuff.


Owen really liked all of his gifts…


…but I think there was a clear winner!!!


When we gave Owen some cake, he was a little timid at first.


He got the hang of it, though.


Mamaw gave Owen a bath after all the cake.

Happy 31st, Daddy!!!

Filed under: Birthdays,Kids,Kyra,Photos — Rachel at 11:19 am on Tuesday, May 8, 2007



Kyra helped bake Daddy’s birthday cake.


Kyra licked the bowl.


Then, she really licked the bowl!

Daddy was more enthusiastic about his cake before I got the camera out.