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.

Goodbye, 2016!

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,General,Hailey,Holidays,Home,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Love,Matthew,Me,Owen,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 4:17 pm on Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wow! Time really flies. It’s hard to believe 2016 is already over. It’s been a pretty great year for me and my family. We’ve spent a lot of wonderful times together, accomplished some really big goals, and received some huge answers to prayer.

One of the biggest events of the year happened in March. We bought a new house and moved to Knoxville. It took several months for our house in Harriman to sell, but I know it was all in God’s timing. Everything worked out perfectly for us financially, and we moved into our new home the day after we had Elijah, Abby, and Logan’s birthday party . . . so we had a lot of helping hands. Our new home and neighborhood have been a perfect fit for us. The house is  two-and-a-half stories, five bedrooms, four bathrooms and has a big bonus room for the kids, an office for Matt, and a huge backyard. So, it’s perfect for our family of eight! As a bonus, we have great neighbors on both sides of us, and the neighborhood has a big pool and sidewalks on both sides of the street. There are lots of kids around us, both in our neighborhood and the one behind us. Hailey has friends from school that live in the neighborhood behind us who walk over to play with her. It’s been great. We are so very thankful for the home the Lord provided for us. It reduced Matt’s commute to work by about twenty-five minutes. Now, he drops the little kids off at school on his way to work, and he gets to come home and have lunch with me on most days.

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I mentioned we moved right after three of the kids’ birthdays. Elijah turned 12 on March 25, and Abby and Logan turned 7 on March 26.

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Kyra and Owen’s birthdays were in June, and we celebrated with a big pool party. Kyra turned 14, and Owen turned 10.

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Hailey celebrated her 9th birthday in October. (For some reason, I can’t find a picture of her with her cake.)

We were super blessed to be able to take the family on another beach vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida back at the end of July through the beginning of August. We took our first family vacation to the same place back in 2014 right after we got married. We enjoyed it so much we chose to go back. This time, we took Mammy, Grammy, and Aunt Whitney with us. We all had a wonderful time and returned just in time for the kids to start school the next day.

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Professionally, Matt got a new position with the Army Reserves and transferred from his old unit near Cincinnati, to his new unit in Washington, D.C. He is now working with the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s not any closer to home, but he at least gets to fly now instead of having to make that long drive to Northern Kentucky. I got to go with him back in August. It was my first visit to D.C., and I really enjoyed seeing everything, even if I did most of my sightseeing solo, since Matt was working. We’re hoping to take all the kids to D.C. in the coming year.

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I did well with my writing pursuits in 2016. I published Little River: Vol 2 in August, and I had multiple publications for my short fiction in literary journals. I had five or so book signings over the course of the year, as well as being accepted into the Author’s Guild of Tennessee. There’s other news to share on the writing front, but I’ll save that for a future date. No contracts have been signed yet. (Wink, wink!)

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In September, God answered our biggest prayer and gave us sole custody of Hailey and Logan. I won’t go into any details, but I just want to give God all the glory. He told us in no uncertain terms over and over and over throughout the course of the year that He was fighting that battle for us. It brought great peace to all of us, and the kids are happy, healthy, and thriving. God is so good!

We had a lovely holiday season and got to spend time with our families.

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Halloween

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Thanksgiving

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Christmas

I could have inundated this post with photos, but these few will have to do. If you want to see more photos from our day to day lives and you are a friend of mine (either in real life or online), you should friend me on Facebook. That is where I am most active. I don’t add people I don’t know on Facebook, but I do have a public Twitter account where I occasionally post photos. Please feel free to follow me there.

I hope 2016 was as good to you and your family as it was to me and mine, and I hope 2017 is even better for all of us!

Happy New Year, Friends!

It’s Been A While

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,General,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen — Rachel at 1:15 pm on Monday, October 24, 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I could blog freely. About three years. The reason for that is gone now, and I’m itching to get back to blogging semi-regularly. I know I’ve said that a dozen times over the last three years, but, because of a recently answered prayer, our circumstances have changed and I feel free to write about my life and family again. So, here we go with an update post!

In a nutshell . . . things are great! Everyone is happy and healthy. What more can we ask for?

To be a little more specific . . . here’s a person by person run-down:

  • Matt – He’s working hard as always and taking good care of all of us. He recently switched Army jobs and left the unit he has been with for several years and went to a new one. We are really happy he doesn’t have to make that awful drive to Cincinnati every month anymore. That was getting really old. His new unit isn’t any closer to home . . . he’s now with the Army Corps of Engineers and drills in Washington, D.C. . . . but at least now he gets to fly and his travel is all paid for. His first D.C. drill was in August, and I got to go with him! While he went to work, I got to go sightseeing. I had never been before, so it was a lot of fun for me. He’s also coaching the kids’ soccer teams.
  • Me – The whole mom life keeps me hopping, but I know I’ve got it made. With the kids all in school during the day, I have lots of time alone. I’m trying to get into a better writing routine. I thought it would be a lot easier, but this school year has been so incredibly busy! It started out with a ton of events at their schools, and it seems like there’s always a doctor or orthodontist appointment, someone forgetting their lunch box, or some other errand that has me out running around instead of writing at home. Running a household is a lot of work; there’s so many moving pieces. I love my family so much, though, and I truly wouldn’t have it any other way. (Unless I had a housekeeper. I would have it that way!) So, new writing has been kind of slow, but things have been going really well with my already completed writing. Little River: Vol 2 came out in early September. That was very exciting for me. It is still being published weekly in it’s original serialized format in a local newspaper. I’ve already started working on Vol 3. I’ve had several book signings over the summer and done really well at a lot of them. I have one more coming up next Friday, and then I’ll have a long break between it and the next one I have scheduled in February 2017.
  • Kyra – It’s hard to believe she’s already in high school. For those of you who have followed this blog for a long time, you’ve watched her grow up! She’s fourteen, as tall as me, and a super great kid. She’s doing really well in school. She has taken to high school and really loves it. She goes to one of the best high schools around, and it offers a plethora of opportunities. She had no trouble making friends after our move, and she’s generally a happy kid. She loves to read (just like her mama!) and binge watch Netflix shows. She’s such a good kid. I couldn’t ask for better!
  • Elijah – He’s the kid who has changed the most recently. I guess puberty will do that for you. He’s twelve and a half and taller than me and Kyra now by  just a little, and he’s pretty proud of that. He’s still my quiet, shy, smart boy, though. He still loves football, and I think he appreciates my newfound enjoyment of the game (thanks to FanDuel.) We have spent more time together watching football already this season than I think we have in his previous eleven years combined. He plays for the Farragut Admirals, and he’s doing so well. Being the new guy on the team, he’s had to really prove himself and fight for a spot. He did that in a big way last week! He returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and then followed that up with a huge sack, five tackles, and three carries for positive yardage each time. He’s been playing a lot more offense since that game. I think he impressed the coach!
  • Owen – I adore this kid! He turned ten this summer. I think he is probably the most genuinely funny kid I’ve ever known. He makes me laugh every day. He’s another book lover. He really enjoys reading, and he’s so good at it! He reads way above his grade level, and he’s been expanding his repertoire lately into books his big sister and I have recommended. He has the best grades of all the kids. Straight A’s, without fail. He wanted to play baseball this Fall, but we were stretched too thin between football and soccer. We just couldn’t fit in a third sport. So, he’s planning to play Spring baseball when it comes around.
  • Hailey – She’s a sweetheart. She loves to be helpful, both at home and at school. She’s her teacher’s right hand in the classroom, always volunteering to help with any and every task. Her birthday is actually coming up next week. I can’t believe she’s going to be 9! She’s been counting down to her birthday for the last three months. Out of all the kids, she’s the one who looks forward to her birthday the most. She’s finally getting to play soccer this season. She played when she was in Kindergarten, but then the next two seasons just didn’t work out because of moving to Harriman and our family schedule. She played baseball and basketball for one season each between then and now, but insists that the only sport she really cares for is soccer. Signing her up this season was at the top of our recreational priority list! She’s been loving it. She’s on an all girls team, and she’s doing so well. She gets a little more aggressive each week. Her first soccer game was also the first soccer game I had ever been to. Turns out, they’re fast-paced and fun to watch. I guess I’m officially a soccer mom now.
  • Abby – My sweet baby girl is not much of a baby anymore. She’s seven and a half and as sweet as ever. I may have to fold her up two or three times to get her to fit in my lap, but we still make it work. She’s still my super precocious child. She’s still planning to be an engineer when she grows up, but she told us the other day that she’s reconsidering her desire to be the President as well. She said, “It seems like a lot of work!” She’s smart and rambunctious and is still the perfect mix of girly-girl and tomboy. She’ll be playing baby dolls with Hailey one minute and the next thing I know she’ll be outside playing in the dirt and ruining her clothes.
  • Logan – This one is really growing up a lot lately. Not necessarily in the physical way (although, that, too,), but he’s really starting to mature a lot in the way he carries himself. He’s a great kid and rarely gets in trouble. He is Elijah’s shadow. The two of them are thick as thieves! He’s playing soccer and doing great in school. He is naturally very athletic. He’s super smart and has a fantastic smile that catches you off guard by how completely adorable he is!

So, full disclosure . . . I wrote the above post a month ago, all the way down to the middle of the last paragraph. Then I got distracted by the kids coming home from school and never returned to it. Sheesh! The best laid plans . . .

But, here I am again . . . finishing it.

I don’t know what the future of my blog entails, but I think I’ll be blogging much more frequently. It may be a completely random mix of family news, my own thoughts about whatever crosses my mind, or just the random picture.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Lit Babies

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen,Reading — Rachel at 1:02 pm on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Anyone that knows me knows I love to read. I love books–all sorts of books. Since having children, I’ve wanted to pass down my bookish nature, and, so far, it’s been an overwhelming success. My three older children enjoy reading, and do it for fun on their own. They are all good readers. Owen, in particular, has tested in the 99th percentile for reading at school, and that gives me great pleasure. The three youngest kids aren’t yet reading fluently enough to comfortably read a chapter book on their own, but they are getting there.

 

I’m a big believer in reading aloud to kids above their reading level, and, since Matt and I got married, that’s become our nightly tradition. I also don’t believe in censoring books (with few exceptions), and will allow the kids to read most anything they want after a certain age. My intent in reading to them is to give them a taste of good writing and good literature and a love of a well-told story, so when they are choosing their own books they will have a more discriminating literary palate.

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Before bedtime, we gather in the girls’ bedroom, and I read to Matt and the four littlest ones. We started out reading the Pippi Longstocking books, then Robinson Crusoe, and now The Chronicles of Narnia. We have read all of the Chronicles except for The Magician’s Nephew, which we are reading now. Since Owen and Abby are with their dad every other week, when we have just Hailey and Logan at home, we read something different to them. We are currently reading The Series of Unfortunate Events. We are on Book the 2nd, The Reptile Room, right now.

If you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them. Leave your suggestions in the comments section!

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.

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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.

 

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

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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!

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They enjoyed the snow, though!

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

 

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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.)

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

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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!

 

 

 

What’s New?

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,General,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen,Reading,School — Rachel at 11:20 am on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Things are going well and we are very busy around our house. We’ve got so much going on all the time. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I was still in school. I know we could have made it work and got everything done that needed done, but I can only assume that Matthew and I would be running ourselves ragged.

The kids’ activities keep us very busy. I’m really glad that they are able to participate in things that make them happy, and I’m thankful that I have more time now to be involved as well.

Kyra is running for Homecoming Queen at her middle school, so we’ve been busy trying to raise money for that. We’ve sold donuts, and Kyra, Brianne (her stepmom), and Mammy (my mom) have made hairbows in the school colors to sell. The three little kids got in on helping sell the hairbows at Elijah’s football games. We were all getting cracked up at Logan last Saturday. He was carrying a ribbon full of hairbows around, selling them with sheer cuteness. I think he sold seven bows. The three of them even managed to sell a bow to Papaw John! Kyra is also still taking piano lessons, and is working on a classical piece for her recital that’s coming up. After her first report card, she had all A’s except for one B. I’m really proud of her grades. Every time she gets an A in Math, I do a little victory dance in my head!

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Elijah is playing football, and he has practice three times a week and games on Saturday. This boy loves nothing more in life than to play football. He’s doing so very well this year, despite being one of the smallest boys on the team. He plays hard every game, and really puts his heart into it. During his last game, he got a fumble recovery, some tackles, and he almost sacked the quarterback…he hit him right as he was throwing the ball, forcing an interception. It was so funny watching him come off the field after that. Elijah doesn’t get excited over much of anything, and was still all business coming off the field. His coach picked him up and bear hugged him. After the game, Elijah was trying to keep his game face on and not smile, but, when I told him  I bet he had just won himself the defensive player of the week medal, he grinned really big. I tried to snap a picture of him smiling, but he ran away. I gave my phone to my mom to take a picture, and I grabbed him and tried to hold him still. He was trying to get away, but you can see his happy spilling out anyway.

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Monday at practice, I went to pick him up, and I was so excited, watching from the van, when I saw the coach give Elijah the medal he had been working hard to earn since the beginning of the season. I admit, when his team started clapping for him and one of his teammates slapped him on the back, I teared up. I was just so happy for him.

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Along with football, Elijah is also doing two after school classes, one of which is Dodge Ball. Spending an hour playing Dodge Ball after school on one of the days he doesn’t have football practice is good for him. Otherwise, he has entirely too much energy! Elijah is also an honor student, and got all A’s and B’s on his first report card. Of the two B’s he got, he was one point away from an A for both of them. I’m really proud of him!

Owen doesn’t stay as busy as his big brother, because he’s not really into sports. He played football one year, but wasn’t a fan. He is taking an after school class, though. Like Elijah, Owen is doing Dodge Ball every Wednesday. Yesterday was their first day doing it, and he really enjoyed it. A few weeks ago, the elementary school had Open House, and I was so pleased after speaking with Owen’s teacher. She just gushed about him. He looked a little embarrassed while we talked, standing there with his hands shoved in his pockets, not saying a word. His teacher said he was an excellent student, he was very quiet and obedient in class, and she said he was very sweet. I was actually kind of surprised. I would have expected to hear that he goofs off and talks when he isn’t supposed to, because Owen is our resident comedian. He is always being silly and making everyone laugh. I guess he knows when to be silly and when to be serious. So good on him! I was over the moon, though, when she showed me his TCAP scores for reading. My boy is in the 99th percentile for reading. In case you don’t know what that means, let me brag on my boy. That score means that Owen reads better than 99% of kids his age in the whole country! I was so proud of him!

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Hailey hasn’t been involved in extracurricular activities since she finished her baseball season this past spring, but she’s gearing up to be a little busier now. She is also taking an after school class. Yesterday was her first day of ballet class. Mammy told her the other day that we were going to get to see just how graceful Hailey Grace is. I was cracking up yesterday when Hailey was showing me in the kitchen what she had learned in ballet. Hailey is on a waiting list with Kyra’s piano teacher for a spot to take piano lessons from her. I’m really hoping that will open up soon. Hailey loves sitting down and playing around on the piano, so I would really like to see her get to start lessons soon. She’s also thinking about playing basketball this year, so, if she does, that will be starting up soon. The thing I am most proud of her for right now is all of her progress in reading since the school year started. Hailey has more homework than the rest of the kids combined. Apparently, first grade is serious business. At the beginning of the year, she was really struggling to read, but she’s doing so great right now. I work with her every day after school. She has developed a really good work ethic when it comes to homework, and she comes home every day, sits down with me, and we get it done. She reads each one of her stories to me twice, and she’s really doing the work to get better at it. At Open House, her teacher had lots of good things to say about her, and Hailey obviously loves her teacher and her class.  She’s got several friends at school, and is really doing great at her new school this year.

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Me and Hailey reading before bed.

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Our silly girl with her homework.

Abby is loving school! She was so excited for it to start, and she’s learning so much. Unlike Logan, Abby didn’t go to pre-school, so she’s learning everything for the first time in Kindergarten. I’ve struggled with feeling really bad that I didn’t have the time to work with her more. Especially since I homeschooled the first three and was so involved in teaching them the basics. So, even though it’s just Kindergarten, I feel like we’re already playing catch up. Besides homework, we’re doing a lot of other work with sight words, letters, numbers, and flash cards. Abby is super smart, so I know she will catch up to Logan soon. Socially, she’s doing great, too. She’s got some little friends at school, and also has decided she has crushes on two different little boys. She cracks me up talking about them! She also, apparently, goes by Abigail at school. The school doesn’t offer any after school classes for Kindergarteners this year, so Abby doesn’t have any extracurricular activities. She spends most of her free time playing with her siblings.

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Abby on her first day of Kindergarten.

Logan is doing fantastic in school. His teacher gushed about him at Open House. She even mentioned that she thinks he might be gifted. He definitely went to a fantastic preschool, thanks to Matt, so he is ahead of the curve when it comes to Kindergarten. He has one especially good buddy at school, and we got to meet the little boy’s parents at Open House. Apparently, he talks about Logan as much as Logan talks about him. Like Abby, Logan doesn’t have any after school classes available to him this year, so he’s pretty much just chillin’ at home after school. He keeps himself busy drawing, coloring and playing with his brothers and sisters. They’re all a bit obsessed with Club Penguin lately. It’s kind of funny to me when the younger kids bring back the things that the older kids were really into a few years ago.

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He had just said, “Rachel! Look at me! I’m a ninja robot!”

As far as Matthew and I go, we are mostly busy being parents. We do make a conscious effort to spend time alone together, though. Matt has been working from home on Fridays, which I absolutely love. It’s so nice to be home with him, just me and him. We’ve also had several date nights recently. We’ve done everything from a simple dinner out to a pre-season NFL game. We’ve went and looked at several properties, as we are wanting to find some land to build our dream house on. We’ve also spent a lot of time lately cuddled up on the couch watching football. (I must admit, though, that I have a propensity to cuddle up with the intention of watching football and falling asleep on him instead.)

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At a Cincinatti game!

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A quick ice cream date!

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On our way to drop the kids off in Matt’s sexy truck! 🙂

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At my nephew’s birthday party.

So, that’s all the latest for our crew. We are busy all the time, just enjoying being a family.I have a feeling that it’s only going to get better, too.

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The Mommy Life

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,Hailey,Home,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Love,Matthew,Me,Owen — Rachel at 11:21 am on Thursday, September 11, 2014

I can’t possibly express how happy I have been since making the decision to stay home with my kids. I am happy every day. I am so very thankful that Matthew is willing to let me stay home and be a mom.

My days are very busy, but I have to say it’s easier than when I had four little ones. There was a time when “staying at home with the kids” meant constantly feeding and cleaning and changing and never having a moment to rest. At one point, I was homeschooling two kids, had a toddler and an infant, was taking care of the house, AND was leading a Bible study for teen girls. I had two in diapers for a very long time. Plus, I’ve been in school for the majority of the time I’ve been a mom. I have been in school for the last eight years…almost all of Owen’s life and all of Abby’s.  So, I know what it’s like to be a very busy, very tired mom of several little kids.

However, that is not where I am now. Our youngest kids are five years old. Kindergarteners. They go to school every day. I am definitely in a new season of motherhood. I go through phases of thinking I want another baby. I miss it a lot. I absolutely adored my children’s babyhood. Then I see one of my friend Monica’s posts about the crazy messes her toddler makes or watch my Aunt Debbie chase her little grandbaby around, and I think that maybe six is plenty. There are definite pluses to this stage of motherhood. Instead of potty training, I’m helping Kyra raise money for homecoming. Instead of watching mind-numbing hours of Dora, I enjoy watching The Fosters with Kyra or a football game with Elijah. Instead of never, ever being able to get a handle on the housework, I have several capable helpers to keep the house going. Instead of never going anywhere without having to tote a diaper bag around, I can leave the house with my drivers license, my debit card, and my keys. Instead of having to sit out the fun activities because I’m pregnant or nursing or holding a little one, I get to go parasailing with my two eldest. Logistically, this stage of motherhood is much easier.

Easier logistics mean that I get to enjoy life more. And, oh, am I enjoying my life!

I enjoy it because I am doing exactly what I want to do. I don’t want to miss anymore of the day to day stuff with my kids. Being divorced, I automatically miss out on half of my kids’ childhoods. They are with their dad half of the time. Now, because I get to stay home, at least I get to spend all of my half of their time with them. When they are gone, I get to spend a lot of focused time with Hailey and Logan. I think this is good for all three of us. They are doing so well. Especially since school has started, they are just thriving. They really miss the other kids when they go to their dad’s, but we get to spend a lot of good time together. There are certain things that only I do with them, since Matt is still at work for a couple hours after they get home from school, and I think those things are bringing us closer together.

I know I’m gushing, but that is honestly how I feel. We did an icebreaker question at small group last night where we had to say what we wanted to be when we were 5, when we were 12, and then what did we end up being. When I was 5, I wanted to be a mom. When I was 12, I wanted to be a writer. I ended up being a mom, and I’m still working on being a writer. That icebreaker made me feel very blessed…to grow up and get exactly what I have wanted my whole life. Granted, I never thought I would be mom to six. My mom likes to remind me how I told her she was crazy for having six kids and I would never have that many kids. The joke is on me, I guess, but I couldn’t be happier with the six kids that God has blessed me with.

Every night, at bedtime, we have the same routine. Me, Matt, and the four youngest kids pile up in Hailey and Abby’s beds. Usually, Abby is in my lap, Hailey is sitting between me and Matt with her head on my shoulder, Owen is on the other side of me, and Logan is usually on his daddy. We read a chapter out of a book to them every night. We’ve already read two Pippi Longstocking books, and we just finished Robinson Crusoe. If the book is interesting to him, like Robinson Crusoe, Elijah will sometimes join us. We read our chapter, and then tuck them all in. I put my hand on their little heads, say a prayer over them, kiss them and tell them I love them. This bedtime routine is the absolute best time of my day. It is so sweet and they are so precious.

It’s a gift to feel like you are doing exactly what you were made to do.

bedtime

 

We were missing Matthew in this bedtime photo, because he was away for the Army, but we had the bonus that night of Kyra and Elijah listening to the story with us, too!

First Day of School

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen,Photos,School — Rachel at 5:29 pm on Sunday, August 10, 2014

The kids started school again. I can’t believe summer vacation is already over. It went by so fast!

Kyra started 7th grade, Elijah is in 5th grade, Owen is in 3rd grade, Hailey is in 1st grade, and Abby and Logan are starting kindergarten. All but the wonder twins have had their first full day of school already. Logan and Abby’s first day of Kindergarten is Wednesday, and then they have a couple more days the following week, before starting a regular schedule.

The kids were all kind of excited about starting school again. Even the ones that didn’t particularly want to do school again were looking forward to seeing their friends. Abby Jo is definitely the most excited. She cannot wait to start Kindergarten. I was happy that she got Mrs. Suddeth, who was Owen’s Kindergarten teacher. We wanted Logan and Abby to be in the same class, but they put them in different ones. They said they don’t like putting siblings in the same class.

I’ll be starting school again soon, too, and then, boy, will our schedule be hectic. We are going to have a lot to get used to!

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Our First Family Vacation

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Matthew,Owen,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 5:14 pm on Sunday, August 10, 2014

We went on our first family vacation last week. We went to Panama City Beach, Florida. It was so great. The trip itself was a wedding gift from Matthew’s Uncle David and Aunt Jennifer. We were floored by their generosity. We had so much fun. Nothing went wrong. The weather was perfect. My mom went with us to help with the kids. It really couldn’t have been a better vacation.

We spent all of our time at the beach or the pool. The only different things we did were on two days we rented a pontoon boat and drove out to Shell Island. That was fabulous. It was the most  beautiful, pristine beach, and we had it all to ourselves. Along the way, we did a little fishing, dove for sand dollars, caught about a hundred hermit crabs, and even found a starfish. We swam, boogie boarded, snorkeled, sun bathed, built sand castles, caught jelly fish, and the kids procured a small fish that they put in little pools they made in the sand and connected with tunnels. Oh! I almost forgot. I took Kyra and Elijah parasailing, which they absolutely loved.

That’s our trip in a nutshell, and, now, for what everyone wants anyway…the photos! Enjoy.

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I’m Still Alive!

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Reading — Rachel at 10:36 pm on Saturday, April 5, 2014

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last blogged. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. I’ve thought several times that I would like to blog, but I just never made the time to do it. Tonight’s the night, though.

Everyone loves an update post with bullet points, right? Right. Here goes…

  • Me: Life has been going very, very well for me. Almost seven months ago, I met a wonderful man. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but it was awfully darn close. Matthew has been the most wonderful gift to me.MattRach He is my best friend, my confidant, my cheering section, and…in less than two months…he will be my husband.       I cannot express how thankful I am for his presence in my life. He has two beautiful children, Hailey and Logan, and I am very happy to add them to my little brood. We are looking forward to blending our families and finding out what God has in store for the whole lot of us.
    Kyra made this edit of the whole family.

    Kyra made this edit of the whole family.

    The kids all get along very well, and are happy to be step-siblings soon. Something that I think is really super cool: Abby and Logan were born on the same day. I always wanted twins. In fact, I prayed for them every time I was pregnant. So I think it’s really neat that I have pseudo-twins now! We call them step-twins.

    Ring

    The gorgeous ring Matthew gave me!

  • My relationship with Matthew has definitely been the highlight of my life recently, but I have also been doing nursing school. I’ve done really well so far this semester. All A’s and B’s. However, I have a Med/Surg test on Monday that has me shaking in my boots. I’m really nervous about it, but I’m studying like crazy. Hopefully, it will go ok. The high point of this semester was on my first day of my OB clinical rotation. I got to assist in the delivery of a baby. We were only supposed to observe, but this baby was born super fast, so I got to help. The doctor didn’t even make it until after the baby was born. It was really very cool. I was riding high for the rest of the day. I think, if I work in a hospital, I would enjoy Labor and Delivery.
  • Kyra: My eldest has had a great year so far. She’s 11 and in sixth grade, and has excelled in middle school. She is really coming into her own in a lot of ways. She makes all A’s and B’s at school, she played junior varsity basketball this school year, and she was asked to be the sixth grade representative for the Schoolwide Positive Behavior Committee (or something like that) by the principal. She has also discovered a hobby that she excels at. She is an Instagram addict. She is a little bit Disney obsessed, but she has turned her love of all things Disney into an Instagram account with over 2000 followers. She creates edits with Disney themes that there is apparently a niche fan base for who hang on her every post. If you (or more likely your kids) want to look her up, she is @epicdisneylover on Instagram. I am actually quite proud of her. We’ve talked about her someday using her talents in graphic design or something similar. Her teachers have taken note of her talent, as well. Her Social Studies teacher commissioned her to create posters that went along with the units he was teaching, and her principal asked her to design a tee shirt for the school’s annual Turkey Trot. It was really cool to see all of the middle schoolers wearing a t-shirt that my daughter designed. I’m very proud of my girl! She’s also a big time reader, and has really enjoyed the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, recently. Kyra
  • Elijah: My first March baby just had a birthday. He is ten now, and has grown so much. He, too, does very well in school. He is in the fourth grade, and he gets all A’s and B’s. He seems so much older to me over the last few months. He’s went from playing with toys and make believe to shooting a bow, building things, spending endless hours playing minecraft, and reading books that make this bibliophile mama very happy (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, etc.). He’s not quite all grown up yet, though. He is still a very silly and very hyper little boy that drives me batty sometimes. I have to admit, I kind of miss football season when they ran all his energy out of him three days a week at practice. I’ve really enjoyed watching him interact with Matt’s children over the last few months. Especially with Logan. I’ve witnessed some really sweet moments between the two of them. I think he’s going to like having a little brother who’s quite a bit (five years) younger than him. He’s a good boy, and I’m awfully proud of him. ElijahFootball

    Elijah with his cake his Mammy made him for his 10th birthday.

    Elijah with his cake his Mammy made him for his 10th birthday.

  • Owen: Owen is seven, in second grade, and has very few teeth left in his little, blond head. He is such a sweetheart. He’s still young enough that he comes to snuggle with me, insists on being tucked in every night with extra hugs and kisses, and wants to be loved on when he gets hurt. He’s also very, very rotten! He is my little comedian. Everything is a joke to Owen, and he is getting funnier and funnier all the time. The more sophisticated his vocabulary becomes, the more amusing he gets. I’ve laughed at his one-liners so much lately. He’s a gift. Like his older siblings, he does very well in school. He especially excels at reading. He’s pretty advanced in his reading ability, and he has burned through The Magic Treehouse books this year. His teacher has had nothing but praise for him in the reading category. Owen is loving having Logan around. I think the idea of having a little brother has made him pretty happy. It helps that Logan thinks Owen is all that. Owen
  • Abby Jo: Abby is still my little ray of sunshine. She is so obviously my baby. She just turned five, and she is a joy. She is incredibly intelligent, extremely precocious, and she keeps us on our toes. She has decided she wants to be an engineer when she grows up, but just until she is “a big enough age to be the president”. She told that to my aunt the other day, and then followed it by asking “will you vote for me?” and then “and will you ask all your friends to vote for me?” She’s a mess!  I’ve loved encouraging her to explore and create. She’s really enjoyed some toys called Goldieblox, which are engineering toys for girls. She builds little machines with them. She’s been kind of accident prone lately. She may or may not have gotten that trait from her mother.
    Abby fell off a chair and cut her eye.

        Abby fell off a chair and cut her eye.

    Abby was playing with Matt and tripped over my foot and cut her head on the corner of the wall.

    Abby was playing with Matt and tripped over my foot and cut her head on the corner of the wall.

    She has been quite taken with Matt’s dad. I’ve tried to convince her to call him “Papaw John”, but she insists on calling him “Santa Claus”, because he was wearing a Santa hat when she first met him at Christmas. She adores him.

    You can tell how much Abby loves her new Papaw.

    You can tell how much Abby loves her new Papaw.

    She’s looking forward to starting school next Fall. Part of me is sad that it seems like she’s growing up so quickly, but the other part of me is just thrilled with how awesome she is. And it just gets better the older she gets!

In other news, Amy and her kids recently moved out and got their own place in Knoxville. So, now I’m in the process of getting the house ready for Matt and his kids to move in with us after we get married. This involves a lot of sorting and purging. That will be followed by painting and remodeling and moving children around. And, of course, moving all of his stuff. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I am just thrilled at the prospect. Matt and his dad have been building a swingset for the kids in the backyard. He and I have been dreaming of lots of projects that we want to do. I’m excited!

Brothers playing at the park.

Brothers playing at the park.

My four monkeys!

My four monkeys!

Wedding plans have kept me busy, and, the closer we get to the big day…May 24…the more excited I get. I’m just so happy. I can’t wait for the semester to be over so I can concentrate on the little details of our wedding day. And after that comes…summer! I honestly haven’t looked forward to anything like I’m looking forward to this summer in a very long time. I am not going to work this summer, so I get to stay home with all the kids. I’ve been having a good time thinking of all the stuff we can do. I can’t wait to be Matthew’s wife and have all eight of us under the same roof!

Me and Hailey on a snow day.

Me and Hailey on a snow day.

Matt and the Step-Twins. :)

Matt and the Step-Twins. 🙂

So, we’re still alive and well. Just plugging along through our school year. I don’t know if it will be another four months before I blog again, but I’ll eventually be back with another update, at least. Because, even when I don’t blog often, I like to at least update with the highlights. It’s nice to have this record to be able to go back and see what we were doing at a certain point in time. That is, after all, the reason I started this blog. Until next time!

Autumn Acres

Filed under: Abby Jo,Activities,Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen — Rachel at 12:06 pm on Saturday, November 10, 2012

Last month, Amy and I, along with our friend, Janel, took all the kids to Autumn Acres, a cornfield maze and pumpkin patch in Crossville, TN. We had a lot of fun. It was a gorgeous day. It was so warm, in fact, that I managed to get a sunburn. We had a plethora of things to do there. We went through two separate corn mazes. The kids played in big bales of hay, swung on tire swings, went down giant slides, shot corn cannons, and Abby rode a little cow train. There was also a little petting zoo. Going to the cornfield maze in the fall is a tradition here, and I was so happy to introduce our family tradition to Amy and her kids. I look forward to next year….and all the years after that.

All of the kids with their pumpkins.

Abby riding the barrel train.

Elijah spent a long time jumping from off hay bales and from one bale to another.

Pretty little country girl.

Sarah was pushing Kyra on the swing.

Abby Jo

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