a word for 2019

I am awful at New Year's Resolutions. Like, truly awful. I usually try and think of a word to focus on each year. I can do better just focusing on one word. This year, my word is growth

This is what I want to focus on in 2019. 

I want to grow in many areas, but one huge area that I will continue to pour into is my little travel business. This was something I started doing halfway through 2017 and I was thinking it would be a small side hustle. Something to help pay for the Disney trips our own family wanted to take. This little side business has become a huge passion of mine in the last 18 months. This year I will really focus on my business -- growing my business and growing as a travel agent. It has been so important for me to have my own thing. To watch it grow as I put in the work. To help our family financially. To know that I am helping other families and playing a small role in the memories they make. It's a huge bonus that I LOVE my agency and I LOVE what I do. As cheesy as it sounds, it really lit a fire in me that I didn't know existed. 

After being a stay at home mom with 3 very young kids, I felt like I had kind of lost that part of myself. My word of advice to all the moms who even slightly feel that way: find something for yourself. It can be anything, but find something that brings you joy, challenges you, and helps you grow as a person. 

I am so thankful I found something that does all of that! Here is to a joyful, fun, & prosperous 2019! 


december traditions

I can't believe it is already December! I'll be honest, I had kind of forgotten that today was the first day of December until yesterday afternoon. Grayson reminded me that our elf, Doodle, always comes back on the 1st AND we could start unwrapping our 25 books of Christmas. You know what that meant? All 25 books needed to be wrapped. oops. So I went to bed at midnight last night.

I really do love this season & experiencing it with kids is just so much fun. Even at age 8 (and sometimes acting way too cool for school), Grayson still believes in the magic of Christmas and gets so excited for December. I love it!

He is my traditions kid. He loves a good tradition and remembers everything year to year. Most of his personality traits are from his daddy, but that traditions loving part? That is all his mama. I love hearing about Christmas traditions that other families do & thought I would share some of ours! 

One of my favorite things we do in November to kick off the season is fill up our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. We have done this each year with our kids & I think it is a really simple way to teach them about giving. We typically let the kids pick the age and gender of the kids that we are buying for and they pick out the items for their box. You can even add tracking to your box and in a few months, you will find out where your box went! Two years ago, we came back from our beach trip with a letter post marked from Africa. It had a hand written thank you note AND a picture of the sweet girl that had received our box! Our kids thought that was so neat. 

This year I really wanted to volunteer as a family with a local organization. It can be hard to find a way to serve with young kids, but after searching, I discovered a local ministry that we can help with! GraceWorks is in Franklin and each year they have volunteers sign up to shop & deliver Christmas dinner to a local family in need. We will be doing this a few days before Christmas and I hope it will be something we can do each year! 

One of my favorite traditions is our 25 books of Christmas. This sounds a little overwhelming, but if you stock up on books after the holidays, it really isn't bad! We now have collected way more than 25 but I wrap our favorites and it is a fun way to countdown to Christmas. The kids take turn each night opening a new book and we read them before bed throughout the month! Some are new books, but my favorites are the ones that I had when I was a kid.

Today was one of my most favorite things to do in December: the Franklin Christmas Parade! I have always loved downtown Franklin and it is especially charming at Christmas. The parade has the local high school bands and a bunch of businesses with fun floats. It ends with Santa Claus and fake snow...fake snow and downtown Franklin...it's magic!

We have so many more--Doodle the elf, drinking hot chocolate and driving around looking at Christmas lights, decorating the trees together, the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. Truly, I could share so many special things that I hope continue to be special to our kids. Things that they request to do when they are young adults and come home for Christmas. Those are the traditions I hope to create!

So now I am curious...what are some things your family does each year that are special traditions? 


a life well lived

88 years. That is how long my Granddaddy lived on this earth. We actually went down to Georgia this past summer to celebrate his 88th birthday with him. He was battling leukemia, but he looked good & he felt pretty good. We ate chocolate cake and spent the day with him. I actually have a video of my kids singing "happy birthday" to him as he blew out his candles and it is a video I will cherish forever. 

Grief is such a weird thing. I have felt so many emotions over the last week but the sadness really does just feel like a gut punch every now & then when I least expect it. I sat on my front stoop last Sunday while hanging our outside Christmas lights and just cried. I knew the end was near & I just sat down and wrote out all of my thoughts that I wanted to say at the funeral. He went to be Jesus the next day. It is sad, like, the very thought of never seeing him on his couch at his house makes me just want to fall apart, kind of sad. BUT, my Granddaddy was a man of God--he loved the Lord. I know he is with Jesus & he is no longer suffering from that awful disease. The many emotions I have been feeling? That's where that comes in. Relief, because I know he no longer hurts. JOY, because I know that it is not a forever type of goodbye...I will see him again. My heart is full knowing that he is reunited with his wife of 63 years. 

There are so many things I will always remember about my Granddaddy's character. He was such a good man.  He was a generous and kind man; even as he was getting poked and prodded ALL the time these last few months, he always told his nurses "thank you." His caregivers all spoke about how kind he was. I remember the lawn guy telling my dad last month how sorry he was that Granddaddy was so sick because he just really enjoyed him. I never once saw him get angry. He was gentle and patient. Those are the ways I hope that I can be more like him. He left quite a legacy & I am so thankful our kids got a chance to know him and love him. Cheers to 88 years of a life well lived! 


Mic check. Is this thing on?

oh, hi.
remember me? it's been a while. actually close to 2 years. yikes.

This has been something I have thought about resurrecting many, many times but I often get overwhelmed and just push it aside. I also think, "who actually reads blogs anymore??" -- well, you know, the real blogs with real content -- those seem to be hard to find these days.  I started this blog as a newlywed who had just moved to Tennessee and didn't have a single friend or family member nearby. Thank God I made actual real-life friends soon after that, but this little blog? It brought me so many lifelong friends who have walked this motherhood journey with me & I still love this little space of mine so much.

My Granddaddy was one person I could always count on to read my blog posts. He always told me he enjoyed them and once they started to fade away, he tried to get me to continue my blog because he liked the little life updates he could read. My Granddaddy passed away on Tuesday and in some sort of way to honor him, I am going to try and bring this blog back to life. I don't care how many readers I actually have & you certainly won't find gift guides or sponsored posts here, but I do want this to continue to be my life scrapbook. A place where I can come to pour out my thoughts; believe it or not, I have a lot of those. A place where I can share what we are doing as a family. A place where I can just have my own little piece of the internet.

A lot has changed since my last post. a lot. 
Grayson and Griffin are both in elementary school now--kindergarten and 2nd grade.
Cheney is in pre-k & could actually go to kindergarten next year. HOW? spoiler alert: she's not.
We have continued to make our beloved money pit a home.
I am still teaching preschool part-time but also now have a 2nd job; I am a travel agent with FTM Travel and I am loving it.
We lost my beloved little chihuahua in July 2017 and I still miss that feisty little Jack.
We've joined a new church, met so many wonderful friends, and just feel very content.

So, here we are. Dusting off the ol' blog. I'm happy you're here!


Friday Confessions

I still can't write these kind of posts without singing Usher "these are my confessions..." in my head. Some things never change I guess...even when you are in your 30s! ha!

SO, here are my confessions.

-my house has been a WRECK since Cheney was in the hospital. okay. If I am being honest it wasn't super tidy before she was in the hospital. but now? geez. I just can't seem to catch up on cleaning or laundry.
-speaking of messy houses, is anyone else's master bedroom & bathroom the dumping ground for ALL THE THINGS?? no? just us? If you walked in to our room right now you would find a Bitty Baby double stroller, random toys, a coffee cup, Cheney's still packed up hospital bag (oops), an assortment of stickers, & many other random things.
-we have a fully fenced in backyard. our dogs still manage to run away on a weekly basis. I came home this morning from the bus stop & the door to the garage was wide open. Clearly, we will accept our Pet Owners of the Year award at any time.
-We went out to dinner earlier this week and I totally forgot I had sweet potatoes roasting in the oven when we left. big time oops. Thank the Lord our house did not burn down. I did, however, ruin my sheet pan & our house reeked of burnt to a crisp sweet potatoes.
-I'm back on my Diet Coke habit. I just can't quit it.
-my van looks like a homeless person lives in it.
-I used to think those Disney obsessed people were crazy. I am now one of them. We are venturing back to the happiest place on earth this summer & I have been researching Cheney/mama matching shirts and vinyl decals for our magic bands. WHO AM I? Don't worry. I won't be getting Mickey Ear stick people for the van. nope.
-As I am typing this at our kitchen table, I am realizing we still have a sled sitting in our backyard. It is 75 degrees out.

I feel better now. Maybe I should stop procrastinating and start cleaning:)


our brave Cheney

I am mostly writing this just because I need to remember it. I have honestly been putting this off because I don't want to think about it.  Our little girl is as tough as nails. You probably remember how she spent most of last winter super sick. She earned herself a trip to our local hospital for lots of bloodwork & then on to Vanderbilt for a consult with the infectious disease department for more bloodwork. Thank the Lord, nothing serious was wrong & we got everything figured out. Well, February proves once again to just not be her month.

In the middle of the night after we went to a Super Bowl get together, she was up most of the night acting uncomfortable. Cheney came downstairs that next Monday morning saying, "my belly is hurting me."  This is not something she had complained about before, but I just chalked it up to a potential stomach virus. I took her to our pediatrician late that afternoon for his last appointment & he assumed the same. He listened to her stomach and said based on the sounds he heard, he did not think it was appendicitis. Late that night she declined in a big way. She could not sleep, she had a fever, & she was clearly hurting. I took her back to the doctor first thing the next morning & he ruled out all the other things--flu, strep, UTI. Y'all, I have never seen Cheney act so miserable. She had not eaten or had anything to drink in 24 hours. The pediatrician knew something was not right & sent me to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital for an abdominal ultrasound.

That drive was terrible. It was raining & she was so uncomfortable in her carseat. She just moaned the whole way. The radiologist & our doctor confirmed what I had already assumed: appendicitis. Our little baby girl would need emergency surgery in the next few hours. I felt awful. She had been hurting for about 36 hours--I can't even fathom what kind of pain she was in.

I sat with her in a hospital room by myself for a while. Cheney was lethargic, dehydrated, & in so much pain. She was laying on an exam table with rosy red cheeks & those beautiful blue eyes would open every now and then & she looked so scared.  I would have given anything in that moment to trade places with her. To be the one in pain. For the first time ever, I feel like I really understood something that I have known for as long as I have been a mama. These children are not mine. They belong to the Lord. We are responsible for them, but ultimately, we have to entrust them to God. Part of me was so angry. I was mad that she had been sick for a long time and mad that this tiny little girl was about to have surgery. The other part of me was so thankful that Cheney belongs to the Lord. I knew deep down that He had this.  He had walked before us. He had her in the palm of his hand. Letting go of her as she screamed for me & trusting those doctors with her precious life was the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a mama. I want to be in control.  I want her to stay in my nest so that I know she is safe & taken care of; but I know that is not how it always is. I had to surrender my control & my little girl that afternoon. It was hard.

Cheney's appendix had ruptured. No wonder she had been in so much pain. We stayed on a surgical & trauma hall for 3 days while she recovered. I saw so many children that week that had been through much more than Cheney. It was heartbreaking. That was a really rough week but I am just SO thankful that we got to leave that hospital with a healthy girl & that we don't have to worry about her appendix ever again.
Cheney is the bravest girl I know!


Menu Monday

Well, Whole30 was going great. Until it wasn't. I made it 16 days in and was just so grumpy about it that I decided to quit. I think 2 failures means it just isn't quite for me! I am doing whole-ish30 but not obsessing. The worst part of quitting on day 16 was that I had gone to MOPS, skipped the most delicious brunch because it was not-compliant, and then decided that night that I was done. MOPS brunches are my favorite! I'm still trying to limit my bread and dairy & drink lots of water. SO, here is what we are eating this week!

Chicken Zucchini Casserole

Monday: Chicken Zucchini Casserole (this is an old favorite of ours!)

Swapping bread for sweet potatoes makes eating a Sloppy Joe so much healthier! One serving is just 259 calories, and also happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 compliant and paleo.

Wednesday: Chicken & veggie stir fry over rice noodles -- using the Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce!

Thursday: Burgers (I love this copycat Fuddruckers burger recipe but I have been omitting the brown sugar!) I put an egg on my burger last week & some compliant chipotle mayo. I think I will try the sweet potato bun this week! Serving with roasted Brussel sprouts.

Friday: Thai Coconut Chicken Curry over rice noodles -- this is a Skinnytaste recipe & she uses shrimp. Sadly, I am the only one in this house that loves seafood so I switch a bunch of her things to chicken! It is really good!

Saturday: homemade pizza night! (I will probably skip this meal and do meat sauce over spaghetti squash)