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!

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!

 

 

 

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.

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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!

The End Is in Sight

Filed under: Home — Rachel at 9:31 am on Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This remodeling project that we began somewhere around three months ago is finally starting to look like it might be over soon. The hardest jobs are behind us, and it’s starting to look pretty good. So far, we have new hardwood floors in the living room, kitchen, and hallway, the stairs and landing have been re-done to match, a new wrought iron stair railing has been put up, the walls and ceilings have been painted, new kitchen cabinets have been installed, and we bought new living room furniture. Right now,  Chris’ brother, Derick, is spraying a texture (similar to the texture commonly on ceilings) onto the wall beside of the stairs, and the small wall beside of the lower flight of stairs. I think this technique is called California Knockdown or Orange Peel, if any of you are familiar with that.  After that dries, he’s going to paint those walls. We have been waiting for a couple weeks since the cabinets were installed for the countertops to be made and delivered. They are scheduled to arrive and be installed Friday. Once the countertop is installed, we can put up the tile backsplash. We will also have a kitchen sink again. We’ve not had water in the kitchen for the entirety of the remodeling project. This has made cooking and the resulting cleanup a pain in the butt. So, I’m really looking forward to having my kitchen put back together. After all of that is done, the last part of this stage of remodeling is having all the trim and molding put up.

We are going to do some other things, but I envision that as a second stage of remodeling. We are going to have to let our finances catch up before we start it. Namely, we are going to install new entry doors, new french doors in the kitchen (opening to the back deck), and new doors in the hallway.

All of that to say, this has been a long, drawn out project, and I’m so thankful my house is going to be put back together soon. We are in the process of refinancing our house to pay off some debt and consolidate it all into one payment. In order to close on it, we have to have the house assessed. The guy coming to do that is coming on either Friday or Saturday, so I have to have the house clean, neat, and orderly when he is here. That means for the next two to three days, I am going to be cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. The newly remodeled area of the house is already looking good, but that leaves a lot more house to clean. Have I mentioned that I hate cleaning? Well, I do. It must be done, though. We are also having an exterminator come on Friday to do the pest inspection which we need for the refinancing. Have you noticed that Friday has popped up a lot? Let’s recap…on Friday, they are delivering and installing the countertops, the exterminator is coming, and the home assessor dude may show up then (hopefully, he will come on Saturday). Ay yi yi.

That is what we’ve had going on. Hopefully, the next time you hear about these projects, it will be when I’m showing you pictures of the finished product. Then you can all come over for dinner.