Oh blog, I have so ignored you. But I want to remember these things in our lives that are so fleeting, so I am sitting down and making myself record these. So far, 4+ hours in I remember why I never blog!! Here we go...
I am very thankful in this Thanksgiving season! The Lord has richly blessed us, and I want to remember in my annual ABC list - a throwback to my teaching days. I don't want to seem like things are rosy and rainbows are here every day - they certainly are not. But, this is a highlight of things I am thankful for, so it may seem extra cheesy 😉.
A - Auburn
Dear Auburn, we love you. Even when you break our hearts - and I am enjoying writing this BEFORE the Iron Bowl because it could definitely be ugly this weekend. Heath reminded me early in the season this year that we don't love Auburn because they always win - um, good thing! We love it because so many great relationships and memories came from there. I love that my children love going to campus and to the football games. John Burke cried during the Texas A&M game this year because there was a threat of a storm and we parked across campus, so we left after half time. No way am I walking these fools across campus in a storm!! I love Auburn a LOT, but maybe not that much!!
Cousin fun in Auburn
They rolled Toomer's with us after the :01 second Iron Bowl game a couple of years ago, but they don't remember. A couple of weeks ago they had a chance again and loved it!! War Eagle!!
B - Briarwood
I love this school 💗. The boys are in first and second grade this year, and both teachers have been a perfect fit for them!! They are learning and growing academically for sure, but also spiritually. Turner is used to it, and John Burke has gotten adjusted to "big school." I thought I would be sadder when they are gone during the day, but they were very ready - and it helps to have their very own GiGi with them at school!
Here they are the day before school started with the principal, Mrs. Whatley
Oh this child is something else!! She loves everything girly right now - fixing her hair, trying on lip gloss and makeup (ahem - from my bathroom 😁). She loves to dress up and be silly and make up dances like from "her ballet." She usually wakes up happy, but wow when she doesn't it is a sight!! She lets me dress her up, and is just now starting to have opinions on what is "fancy" - like the other day when she insisted on wearing a polka dot shirt, tulle dress and patterned tights with sparkle shoes. I let her - but only because it is Thanksgiving week and I caved.
She is 4 3/4 (she told me uncle Derek told her what that was last weekend). I am part sad that she is almost 5, and part thrilled. It is fun to have my sidekick with me during the week while the boys are at school - I am not quite ready for her to be in big school yet!
Channeling her love for Elsa - her very favorite princess. This girl knows what she likes and what she doesn't, and she is my first child to get a good report every day in preschool. The boys definitely did not, but luckily have figured out how to behave at elementary school, for the most part. Hallelujah!!
This girl loves to dress up and has worn a leotard, princess dress or rockstar costume to dinner with friends more times than I care to admit. Last night she wore the rockstar costume and Heath made her put a long-sleeve shirt over it. As soon as we got to the restaurant, she "got hot" (as I expected), and just HAD to take the shirt off, of course. She feels very confident - so I make myself let it go!
Here she is with cousins Kate and Morgan getting a pedicure (or more cheaply known as a "polish change"). They did bright colors with patterns and were very proud of themselves!
She is enamored with coloring - specifically rainbow hearts. She has probably done 97 of these in the last couple of weeks. I draw the heart part and the lines, and she fills in with "beautiful rainbows."
D - Disney World
We headed to Disney World for the second time in February. We had SO much fun - we stayed at the Wilderness Lodge this time, and it was a great fit. We booked our trip early enough that we were able to have a good mix of Star Wars, roller coasters and princesses. Here we are at dinner at Cinderella's Castle, and the boys sure didn't mind meeting all the princesses as well!
The best part to me about Disney is the uninterrupted time we get as a family. Heath joins us and gets to step away from work and we all leave the busyness of daily life to enjoy the craziness of Disney! It is so organized and that makes Heath happy 😍. I am ready to go back, but we will space it out like responsible adults, I guess.
E - Extended Family
We are so grateful to have family around us that we get to see and spend time with often. Here is John Burke with his favorite, Granny Fran. Those 2 are a mess together - he is named after her and has inherited some of her sassy personality for good or bad!! They laugh together and I love that they are close!
Starr family last Christmas
Another sweet great-grandmother, Heath's Granny Eloise
Starr cousins at our new favorite beach place - Turquoise in Orange Beach
Pap and Tappy and cousins at the lake last Thanksgiving
It is so fun to have cousins who are so close in age and enjoy each other so much!!
F - Friends
Heath and I both love relationships. I mean, who doesn't?? I don't want to take for granted all of the wonderful friends from past and present that we have that brighten our day and we can "do life" with.
Some of our Auburn favorites at Stephen's wedding in April in Highlands, NC = college reunion
A picture from a Sunday School party earlier this year - love these ladies!
I don't get many pictures of Heath with friends - oops. Here is one from a half marathon Heath ran in April in Nashville - 2 of his buddies from church that we got to spend the weekend with. The wives and I opted out of running the half this time, and I didn't hate it!!
We had a very spontaneous beach trip with friends this past June - 4 moms and 12 kids, and one night ended up with the kids in the pool in their clothes. They had a ball!
4th of July with friends at the lake
John Burke and one of his favorites from school and baseball - Lions in a Rebel world 😏
Turner and his best buddy Will from his class. Turner had a great first grade year, but didn't leave with a best friend. I prayed that the Lord would send someone just for him this year in his class, and man, did he deliver in Will and his sweet family!!
Collins and Sims - best friends since before birth. And crackheads. They shared a birthday party together this year at Let's Play - I love that they love each other so much!
G - Grandparents
We have some fun and very gracious grandparents that we get to play with often. I love how well they love my children, and how much my children adore them.
Gigi and Pop Pop - especially thankful that they have been to more child soccer and baseball games this season than I can count. That can't be that fun for them but it makes my kids' days to see them there!
Pap and Tappy - grateful for time with them, especially the hours skiing at the lake and cheering on the Auburn tigers
Pap had a benign tumor removed a couple of weeks ago - it was a little scary until we knew what it was, and we are grateful that it is out and he can move on!!
Tomorrow is 5 years since we lost our MeMe. She may not be here, but we think of her and miss her every single day. She was such a wonderful grandmother!!
H - Heath
I have a hard time being cheesy about my husband, but I am grateful for him. He leads us well, and puts up with a lot of insanity!
I love this picture - I caught it on the way out of her recital this Spring - totally unprompted
A very favorite thing of Heath's to do has been to teach the kids how to ski. So. many. hours. on the lake, but it has been worth it to watch them enjoy the water as much as their daddy and Pap!
I - Influences
I am exceedingly thankful for the influences on my children's lives when I am not around them (and even when I am!) These teachers at Covenant and at Briarwood as well as their coaches, Sunday School teachers, babysitters, etc. do a great job of pointing them to Christ and loving/correcting their hearts daily.
Mrs. Alison and Mrs. Caroline - Collins' 3's teachers and some of her very favorite people on the planet
Oh how Mrs. Cami and Ms. Ann Elizabeth loved John Burke. They were the BEST kindergarten teachers and he had a fabulous year!! I cried real tears on the last day of school - I couldn't get it together!!
Mrs. Bandy - Turner's saint of a first grade teacher who instilled in him a whole new level of confidence
Mrs. Tipps - John Burke's first grade teacher who has her thumb on him while seeming to enjoy him 👍
Mrs. Smith - Turner's second grade teacher who we adore. He tells me "second grade is VERY serious"
Mrs. Lori and Mrs. Angela - a great match for Collins
Mr. Hunter and Mrs. Stephanie - some of our favorite babysitters
J - John Burke
Y'all. This one broke the mold. I have always said about him that he drives me the most crazy during the day, but I miss him when he is asleep. This child is silly and extremely perceptive. I have learned that the hard way as I hear him say things that make me shudder. One day he was walking out of 5K. Each day, they made him slap a sight word on the doorway on the way out. This day the words were "Be" "That" "As". He hit them and shouted - "Be - that - as - HEY, that sounds like beat that a**." Insert all the giant-eyed emojis. Luckily, his teachers know his heart and were crying laughing telling me about it.
He loves animals and lately anything sports related
He has a special place in his heart for his Granny Fran
I came home to this one night. He was still awake because he didn't want to go to bed without helping Kina take her weave out while she was babysitting. Awesome. Kina is one of his very favorite peeps and she is WAY patient with him. I sent this in a text to my mom saying "things I really never thought I would see in my den"
John Burke loves a good time and loves people - especially the ladies. He is his mother's child, and I keep catching him reading the yearbook to learn new people at school.
He actually had a moment last night where he shared his fears/frustrations about being on the playground and not having someone to play with every time. I cried with him, and told him that that sometimes happens even when you are an adult. We were able to pray about it together, and I was glad he let this out of his little brain. He is more sensitive than I ever realized, and that is a downside to him being so perceptive. I love how he has taken first grade by storm, though I tend to forget these are all brand new friends in his class and sometimes he is going to struggle!
He also has a pretty mean temper - good thing I don't have a picture of that!! But mostly he is kind-hearted and the best helper of my children. As I type this, he is helping Heath strip down and clean up a turkey that they are putting on the smoker. Gross - better him than me.
Our next door neighbor, Helen. These 2 are best friends and she made him bacon almost every single morning last year. His early morning carpool schedule has put a dent in that, but I can still catch him hanging out at her house. She knows what a busy body he is - he can't entertain himself and she was smart to get him a tool set for Christmas last year.
Dog walking/sitting for a neighborhood dog, Zoe. He took it very seriously and we fed her twice a day for 2 weeks!
K - Kids
Gone are the days of babies around here, and I am soaking up these ages. I love that they are KIDS and becoming more independent. It is nice to not have nap time dictate our schedule - and they can do things like (almost) dress themselves daily, brush their teeth and hair, bathe themselves (nearly), etc. The second grade teacher in me is in my zone with these ages and I am trying to soak up the times before more attitudes take over.
We had such a fun summer in the water - at the pool, the lake, the beach. All are great swimmers (one of the only things my children master early), and we used it to our advantage!
A storm trooper, Elsa (again) and the Hawk from Iron Man for Halloween. These are my people 💕.
L - Lice Centers of America
Just want to document one of the dark times last year - where I lost my durn mind. The boys and I got lice this exact time last year, and it has taken me this long to post the picture and get over the trauma. Somehow Collins escaped it - but she got her head oiled with the rest of us just as a precaution.
When I found out the boys had it, I called the number for Lice Centers of America in Cahaba Heights and left a frantic message on a Sunday night. They called me back, assured me I could begin over-the-counter treatment but that they would see me the next day. When I walked in, I was wide-eyed and at my wit's end, and they confirmed that I had it as well. I was relieved to hear that, and made the most of the quiet heat treatment they gave us. It was expensive, but I had the best peace of mind when we left there!! Heath and Collins got so lucky and avoided it altogether. That makes my head itch to write that - but trying to keep it real!
M - Messiah
The most important thing this time of year (and any time of year) is our Savior, Jesus Christ. This past year we made our family verse Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us."
N - Neighbors
Ken and Helen next door are like extra grandparents for our children and we couldn't be more thankful for them. They let us bust in their house all the time - and they watch our pet fish when we go out of town (though I am not above letting him swim on to the big ocean).
Mrs. Helen came to Collins' recital this year - they share a love of ballet. By the way, below is a picture of Collins' bun for her recital. It took me 40 minutes to do it - after an extensive training session and a LOT of clear rubber bands and hair spray, provided by Mrs. Helen. #girlmomtraining
This is our other next-door neighbor, Mrs. Hedy. She got the cutest basset hound puppy a couple of months ago named Lilly. She spoils my children on holidays and is always so joyful! Sometimes I am sad that we don't have little kids on our street, but then I am spoiled by the love of our adult friends who put up with riding toys and basketballs and costume changes daily.
This summer our friends the Densons lived with their in-laws for several weeks and had a new baby. My kids loved playing with baby Fuller and big sister, Mae Mae.
Oh also, this turkey was outside our window one random day this summer. We will count him as a neighbor, too!
O - Our Church
Our church, Covenant, is definitely not perfect. But, we are continually blessed by it and how God uses it in our lives and teaches us through it. Our pastor has taught us so much about the value of community, and our church is definitely our favorite community!
P - Preschool
Speaking of Covenant, we LOVE Covenant Day School!! This graduation picture cracked me up, and he was so proud to finish kindergarten in May.
Collins on the day of her Spring program last year. One thing I don't want to forget - Heath and I left town minutes after this to go to Highlands, NC for Stephen's wedding. We had just crossed the Georgia line when Dad called. He had Collins and John Burke with him, and was loading them in my car when he dropped my keys down a 10 foot storm drain. I was laughing, but John Burke and Collins were definitely not. They lost their minds in a full panic, and I heard them in the background. Dad was a great sport, but luckily my BFF Jami could come to the rescue. She picked the kids up from him and drove them to the house where our reliable neighbor, Mrs. Helen, used our house key to let her in the house and get a spare key to my car. She then delivered a shell-shocked John Burke and Collins back to my dad. Later that afternoon, uncle Derek helped Dad rig up fishing rod with a magnet and the keys were retrieved - a little wet, but still working!!
My big 4K girl - and my only child left at Covenant 😓
Q - Quirky Birds
These kids crack me up. They are definitely Quirky little birds. Just a little while ago at dinner, I was cracking up because months ago Turner came up with a "family howl." This means they howl like wolves, and they don't stop until I join in and the 4 of us are in unison. It was owning me tonight because they were begging Heath and he would not engage. They are so random.
These 2 are the silliest together. They love hard, but they fight hard - often minutes apart. She was "being mommy" - and he had my shoes on, too. Then they used the ipad to record themselves acting like me. Oh, Lord.
Lately they have been playing basketball outside - I snapped this pajama/late night game a few weeks ago
Grateful that they have each other - sibling rivalry and all
R - Riders
A lot of this blog is overlapping, but part of me loving their independence is getting to do fun things like riding bikes! John Burke had a riding toy day at school on May 12th, and his teachers took off the training wheels on his bike and worked with him for hours. Then at the park, Jami rode around with him and he picked it up!
Not to be outdone, Turner learned the next day at my parents' house and it was a game changer for the summer!
They ride on land and on sea and all love to water ski!
On Father's Day weekend this year, Collins announced she was ready to try and popped up the first time! Sass on skis!
S - Small Groups/Sunday School
Another overlap, but our church community is one of our greatest blessings. We have been in our Sunday School class for almost 12 years. Couples have come and gone, and God has used so many of them to bless us. Here we were at Heath's small group Christmas party last year.
A picture of some of the kids at our Sunday school class Easter egg hunt. I need more pictures from things like this!! I am not sure how many kids represent our class, but it is well over 100!
T - Turner
My sweet oldest child. He doesn't care a thing about learning people's names (exact opposite of John Burke), but he is generally pretty happy!! Last year it was February and he came home talking about a new girl in his class named Ava who he was laughing with at school. I rolled my eyes - Ava had been in his class all year!! It drives me insane that he doesn't know names/make those connections, but I also love that he is oblivious!!
His very favorite thing is Star Wars. Here they were at Jedi training in Disney World - a favorite for both of them. I know zero about Star Wars, but Turner makes up for it with any kind of random Star Wars trivia. John Burke and Collins even seem to enjoy watching it with him.
We were at Story Time with Belle in Disney and he was chosen to be the prince. I love this because though he acted embarrassed, he loved every second. He still has an innocence about him that I am not ready for him to lose!
He cares very little about athletics (also opposite from John Burke), but he is truly a fish. He loves to be in water of any kind!
The 2 opposite brothers - they were giddy because I "let them" walk up to the upper deck with me. They are sad their seats aren't up there!! I had to explain that I never sat anywhere else until I was an Auburn student!!
Turner is getting more creative - this was on the back of one of his tests. He is about to start playing basketball - can you tell?
This represents Turner so well to me - smiling and carefree near the water!!
U - Unimportant things
As I was typing this, I didn't want to forget the little things I am thankful for. Some silly - like a half and half tea with lemon from Chick-fil-A can literally change my mood immediately. And I will forever be in awe of DVR for my ridiculous tv shows - though I am pretty sure that has been around for at least a decade. Not lost on me. Iphones with picture quality has been life changing, and also emojis and the bitmojis with phrases/pictures/animation crack me up daily. Also, in the last couple of years I appreciate flavored coffee (heavy on the creamer, less on the coffee taste) and I have fallen in love with Hint flavored waters. Little, but fun for my day to day appreciation!
V - Valuable Time as a family of 5
I mentioned I am loving the ages that my kids are now, and Heath and I are loving soaking it up with them - not that that means I am not yelling or angry during the day as well. We know this is a fleeting season, and we are loving it! Last week he and I were able to escape to New York for a few days, and we were also thankful for time away from our turkeys!! But our normal is being with them and all the chaos that entails!
W - Water
I mentioned earlier how our summer was made up of being by the water 90 percent of the time - whether it was exploring at the lake, riding on Pap's boat, hanging out in the ocean or playing at GiGi and Pop Pop's or Lifetime pool.
Little Miss was determined to pass the swim test early in the summer. It means you have to swim the length of the pool without stopping or touching the sides or the bottom. It took practice, but she got it. And it meant she could be farther than 10 feet from me, so we were all celebrating!! 🎉🎉
Uncle Derek throwing these crazies at Turquoise
cousins on the lake trampoline
X - eXtra-curricular activities
The boys' soccer teams from this Spring. They were able to be on the same team for the Fall, but we didn't get a picture this time.
Ballet - her very favorite activity on Earth (she did not get that from me)
John Burke and Collins did tennis/golf in the Spring
John Burke begged and begged to try baseball, so he did Fall ball this year and really enjoyed it.
Y - Yakina (and our other nursery ladies)
I am grateful to work for Covenant Nursery/MDO. I have the best (and most entertaining) co-workers. I get to work with great friends and watch these ladies love our babies so well.
Our steady babysitter, Yakina (or Kina)
This sums her up - I found this on my phone. She is always willing to play with them, and I cracked up when I found this.
Z - So I can't think of a Z word, so I will leave you with the memory of our beloved pug, Gordon. Hopefully I can keep up with our lives better in 2017!
Happy Thanksgiving - Christmas is coming!!!!