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!

A Wonderful Year

Filed under: Family,Holidays,Kids,Love,Matthew,Me,Videos — Rachel at 3:39 pm on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Today is the last day of the best year I’ve ever had. There have been years I’ve been so glad to see the old year go and the new year come because it was so difficult, and years that I’ve anticipated the new year because something I wanted was waiting there. This year, though, I’m simply ending the year with great contentment and satisfaction. It was a thoroughly good year. I’m happy to see a new year come, because I anticipate it to be just as wonderful as this one has been.

The obvious highlight of 2014 was my wedding. I am so very thankful that I got to marry my best friend. I have never in my life met a man like Matthew Holbrook. I didn’t even think men like him existed. He’s the perfect combination of tough and manly, sweet and romantic, funny, intelligent, successful, generous, and overwhelmingly kind. I don’t care if people get tired of me bragging on my husband. I’ll brag on him until the day I die. He is a gift, and I am so thankful that 2014 made me his wife.

Here is a link to the post about how our love story began.

Our marriage brought together two families, and I am so thankful for how well that transition went. We haven’t really had any major issues with the kids. They all like each other, and they get along just like brothers and sisters normally do. They play, fight, tattle, tease, get in trouble together, and have a good time. They’ve all went through their parents’ divorces and remarriages in the last couple years, and I’m incredibly thankful that they’ve adjusted as well as they have. Kyra, Elijah, Owen, and Abby spend equal time with us and their dad and stepmom. I think that has made it all much easier on them. They know all their parents love them and put them first, and that they will always get to spend time with all of us. They all like both of their new step-parents that this year gave them, and I’m so very thankful for that.  Logan and Hailey have had extra challenges, but they’re doing amazingly well. We have them with us one hundred percent of the time, so the three of us spend a lot of time together when my kids are with their dad. This has been good for us, because it’s allowed us extra time to bond with each other. Hailey took to me right away, and we’ve never had any issues. Logan has taken longer to get close to me, but things have gotten much better in that department. He sat in my lap and snuggled with me for the last two movies we watched together. Anyone who knows us knows what a huge deal that is. I’m very happy with the way things are going, and I’m very thankful for the family that was born of our marriage this year.

Here is a link to a series of posts about our wedding for those of you who are new to my blog and might be interested.

Another highlight of 2014 was our family vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida. This trip was a wedding gift from Matt’s Uncle David and Aunt Jennifer, and it was just the most perfect trip. My mother went along with us and helped us with the kids. Having her along allowed Matt and I to have a date night while we were there, which was an added bonus. We swam in the ocean, snorkeled, para-sailed, picnicked on the beach, fished, collected shells, laid in the sun, rented a pontoon, built sandcastles, and enjoyed some really good quality time together. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a vacation more than that one. It was just perfect.

Here is a link to my post about our first family vacation.

The rest of the year was packed with lots of firsts and lots of good times. From holidays to birthdays to our every days, we have been incredibly blessed. We’ve got to do a lot of fun things. We’ve been surrounded by friends and family. I’ve been so thankful for the family I inherited when I married Matt. The Holbrooks are beautiful people, and they have accepted me and my children with open arms. I’ve even gotten to know a lot of Hailey and Logan’s maternal grandparents and relatives, since we often take the kids to visit them, and that’s been a blessing as well.

Another wonderful addition to my life has been my involvement with the Roane Writer’s Group. This group of fellow writers has encouraged me so much, and I’ve really loved participating in the weekly meetings.

Our church small group has been another family to us this past year. Through all of the difficult moments of this year, they’ve had our backs. They text us and let us know that they’re thinking of us and praying for us. Whether it’s been court dates, sick children, discouragement, or any other thing, our small group has let us know that we are not alone. I’m very, very grateful that they are a part of our lives.

As 2014 comes to an end, I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude for the way my life has worked out to this point. There have been times in recent years when I felt like the bottom had fallen out of my world, and I would never be happy again. I never could have imagined that the Lord would bring me to this happiness. I don’t deserve it, but I am forever grateful.

Here’s to 2015 being as kind to us as 2014!

I already posted this slideshow as a standalone post, but I’m going to include it here, too. Enjoy!

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Goodbye, 2011!

Filed under: Holidays,Me — Rachel at 4:49 pm on Saturday, December 31, 2011

I am always looking forward to the beginning of a new year. Who doesn’t like a fresh start? I know I do. Sometimes, I really need it, too.

This year, I NEED a fresh start in a bad way. 2011 sucked hard! There were good parts, as always, but, man, were the hard parts hard. I have no desire to revisit any of them for this blog post, either. I’m content to leave them in the past.

I went back and read my first post of 2011, and I wrote,

” I hope this year brings you joy, and that God gives you exactly what you need. In the words of Henry the Penguin… “No more. No less.”

I guess, painful though it may have been, God probably gave me what I needed.

I read Chris’ blog post today, and he wrote:

“2011 started rough, got a little better, and then went downhill fast. I have never had my faith challenged like I did this year. Thankfully, God brought me through it. Things aren’t where I want them to be, but they are getting better. Hopefully, this time next year, I will be saying goodbye to the best year of my life.

Thinking back about who I am now, I can honestly say I am a better person. I am not what I used to think I wanted to be. I am thankful for that. Five years ago, I would never have thought I would become who I am now. But, I truly believe, I am better.”

I have to say, the last bit he wrote about not being who he used to think he wanted to be, but being thankful for that…that’s true for me, too. I am nothing like who I thought I should or would be, but I can honestly say, even with all my faults and failures and sin and mess-ups, I still like who I am now better than that idea of who I thought I would be. I hope that I will improve, but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. Whether anyone else agrees or not.

So, upward and onward! Out of this pit of 2011, and on to new places.

Easter Photos 2009

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,Holidays,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 11:04 am on Monday, April 13, 2009

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An Easter family photo, minus Daddy who had to work.

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Everyone’s looking at the camera in this one.

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Uncooperative boys!

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Three out of four ain’t bad.

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All my babies.

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Sweet sisters!

Christmas Pics (Finally)

Filed under: Elijah,Family,Holidays,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 6:36 pm on Sunday, January 4, 2009

I uploaded my photos to Facebook since there were so many of them. It’s much quicker that way.

So, click HERE to go look at them.

2008 Ornaments

Filed under: Holidays,Photos — Rachel at 4:01 pm on Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kyra’s Ornament

Elijah’s Ornament

Owen’s Ornament

I bought this ornament in memory of the Little One we lost this year. It’s not the best photo. I couldn’t get my camera to focus on it. I think it was the lighting. I really love the line from Horton Hears a Who that says, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” 

Christmas Photos

Filed under: Elijah,Family,Holidays,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 3:57 pm on Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Second Trip to Fort Jackson

Filed under: Army,Chris,Holidays,Kids,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 11:43 pm on Monday, July 16, 2007

Here are some photos from my second trip to visit Chris at Fort Jackson, on the fourth of July.

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Owen having some watermelon at the Chaplain Picnic.

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Elijah enjoyed the watermelon, too.

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This is how you wash your hands in the Army!

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Fort Jackson has some majorly cool pine cones, too!

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Kyra’s a pretty good photographer. I like this picture.

Easter 2007

Filed under: Activities,Elijah,Holidays,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 9:30 pm on Monday, April 9, 2007

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The Kiddos in their Easter finery. Kyra’s Easter dress was sleeveless, so she had to wear a shirt under it, since it was COLD. It was almost too cold to hunt Easter eggs.

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The kids with their cousin, Keinzie.

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Kyra looking sweet and pretty.

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Elijah was saying, “Cheese!” He didn’t get that it defeated the purpose when he barked it out with a hateful look.

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In pursuit of the easter eggs!