A pilgrim, an Indian and a turkey...best I could get!
A - Auburn Tigers
War Eagle! We took this picture after the Georgia game. How incredible was that!! This weekend ahead is the Iron Bowl, and it stresses me out. But, it is easier to go into this year with 10 wins for our Auburn tigers! This year I am thankful for weekends away to Auburn - a place that holds so many wonderful memories. We got to go to several games without these little angels, but they did make it to one. Usually it is more than that!!
B - Babysitters
I wouldn't make it without people to help me watch my children. That sounds pretty pitiful, but I have decided it is the only way I keep my sanity. This year Heath and I got away more than ever with children since Collins was getting a little older. Glorious! These are a couple of our favorites - Kina, our family member of course. And the lovely ladies on the left of Jami and me, Lauren and Sarah, who braved the week long beach trip with us. Sanity Savers!
C - Collins
Oh, my Colley Wolley Doodle Bug. She is currently 22 months old. She is a DIVA!! Currently Heath is wrapped around her little finger. He constantly looks at me and gushes over something she has done. Honestly, by the end of the day she better be glad he is doing so because though I love love love her, she can make me a special kind of crazy! She's so different from the boys in that she will cry for no reason, point at food and eat one bite and then despondently throw it on the floor. And rarely wants to eat the same thing twice. However, she has a great sense of humor most of the time! She has no choice, we are always in her face and dragging her along, so she is good natured to laugh along with us. She likes to mimic this growling noise that I do in frustration, and it makes me laugh so hard.
She naps well (hallelujah!), still takes a battle (I am not even venturing into that fight yet - it is the ONLY thing I can find to calm her), and can't make it without her loveys. She loves to say "Daddy", "Mommy" "Uh Oh", "Love ooh", "Pease!" and "Bye Bye". She won't call her brothers by name yet, but will randomly impress me with words I had no idea she could say. But only once, because she is strong willed and knows I want to hear her talk more! She fiercely loves her teachers - Dee and Brittany and Wanda and Cynthia (a lifelong favorite) and she should because they braid and fix her hair (I can never do it to their standards), bathe her and lather her in lotion and vaseline. Bless her, I don't ever do that. But, I didn't with the boys either (not the bathing - I DO do that). Super Mom. Grateful for this little nugget...and she is starting to grow hair like a real girl!!
D - Daddy
I really can't handle it when people say "hubby" and brag about them on social media. I don't know why - I should be nicer like that I guess:) But, I need to say more often how much I love Heath and how thankful I am for him. We have now been together for 12 and a half years, and that sort of blows my mind! We have grown so much together in the last years and lived life as a team, even when it wasn't easy or fun. I am so grateful for the leader that he is and how committed to the Lord and leading our family that he is. The kids are obsessed with him, and he is a good balance for me. Such a fun daddy!
E - Emmanuel
With the Christmas season coming up, I need to be intentional in pointing my children and myself to Christ daily. Thank you, Lord, that you died for me and forgive me and love me even when I am so sinful. Hallelujah, What a Savior!
F - Friends
I love that friends share life with us! These relationships are such a rich blessing and I am grateful for friends old and new, and the unique stage of life to be watching my children make and enjoy friendships.
Collins and her BFF Sims
I made these friends take a picture with me last weekend - some best friends from different stages of my life. All standing together!!
Friends on a hike a few weeks ago
Brooks and Read are some of our favorite friends
Collins with her buddy Leila (she says "Yee yah")...Friends divided this weekend:)
I even caught some of Heath's friends and several members of his bible study one night when they were hanging in the back yard. They weren't dying for me to take the picture, but it didn't stop me:)
G - Grandparents
Some of my favorite people in the world are the grandparents around us - I am lucky to still have my Nanny and Heath's sweet Grannys. I am fiercely thankful for those relationships and all those women do and have done over the years so selflessly. I love that my children can meet and enjoy these women. But also, it is wonderful to have my parents and Heath's dad and this year he married "Tappy" and we adore her too!! We are abundantly blessed by the way the grandparents love and pour into our children.
The boys hanging out with Nanny. John Burke requests to sit with her weekly, and he loves to pet her little blanket and talk to her. Adorable, and a smidge creepy.
John Burke with his namesake, Granny Fran...her maiden name was Burke. He is a firecracker just like her!!
Pap and Tappy on the day they got married
We love our Pop Pop
And of course GiGi
Hanging with our buddy Pap
And we can't forget our MeMe, who just celebrated 2 years in heaven. She is a constant picture of heaven and Christ for our family, as they ask about her every day. I laugh to myself sometimes at the stories they "remember" or have warped. I told Turner one time that MeMe stole him away from me when he was a newborn all the time, because she was so obsessed with him. This was true, but he likes to brag that MeMe wanted to keep him forever. I want them to always talk about her and remember what a fabulous MeMe she was for them and how she truly delighted in them. Still surreal that she is gone.
H - House
We have almost been in our house for 2 years now and I still am grateful for it almost daily. The memories of our other house closing in on me haven't gone away:) I LOVE having an upstairs for my 3 wild cats to run up to, and it is so fun to play outside and ride riding toys and just be able to spread out! What a provision from our Father!
I - Instagram
One of my favorite instagrams - Morgan and Collins hanging under the tent at the beach
This has been a fun way to document memories this year. Especially since I sometimes only update the blog monthly! It is so easy to post and write a quick caption, and I even printed some of our favorites out this year and hung them up in our den. The kids love to walk by and remember fun things...as they un-pin them from the bulletin board:)
J - John Burke
I think this is one of his favorite pictures of the year. He actually held this alligator at 2 birthday parties this year, and will brag about it if you talk to him long enough. This second child of mine is constantly attached to me when we are at home. He is not scared to leave me for a second and try to boss his classmates or friends around, but he does not like there to be a waking second at home without him by my side. While it annoys me sometimes, I know it is fleeting and I try to embrace it! And, he is hilarious to me - sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. Last week, I heard some commotion in the back seat and I turned around and said "Oh..." and before I could finish he said "No, you didn't!!" He notices things I say and do WAY more than Turner ever has. He loves to annoy Turner and truly believes Collins is "his baby." On his Thanksgiving turkey at school he was thankful for "my baby." I actually throw him into his bed at night or nap (attempts), and then I miss him immediately. I am lucky to have that little ball of fire and grateful for him!
Good thing she humors him
K - Kate Bug (and all of our other cousins)
Look at this pack of cool cats - my 3 with Kate, Blake and Morgan
Pushing cousin Cameron
Hanging with Ellie at her pajama party
They play together so well
Chuck E. Cheese with cousin Chloe
It is so fun to have cousins around us all the time! Most of them don't live in our city, but we find a way to get to them and play. What a blessing to watch them grow up together!
L - Lifetime
This year a new gym was built about 10 minutes from our house. When I saw it being built, I laughed at how people in Birmingham did not need another gym. Well, I ate those words! We spent all summer there! We still go weekly, but it was a life saver this summer! We had a place to go work out (the moms) and then swimming with a bunch of our friends, a zero entry pool for Collins and also a great place for child care! It has spoiled me, and sometimes just a wonderful escape:) We continue to go now to the indoor pool because John Burke has fallen in love with swim lessons.
M - Media outlets
I am more thankful than I should be for my phone and the ability to text or email or play Candy Crush or check blogs or Instagram/Facebook. I take for granted how easy it is to stay in touch with people now with the slide of a screen. However, this is something I have to watch. I constantly feel convicted at how little I spend time with the Lord in comparison to time with my phone. I need to prioritize this more in the upcoming year.
N - Neighborhood
This year was big for our little cul-de-sac. We had neighbors move right next door to us last December. We already live next to best friends (for a few more weeks at least:)), and this year Ken and Helen have made our favorite people list for sure!
Our dear friends and original neighbors, the Harlesses with us on Halloween
John Burke with Mrs. Helen. This picture does not do justice for his love for her. Every single day he begs to go play at her house. He is constantly checking on them, and I even sent him over to their house the other morning at 7:15 for some eggs. They sent the whole carton! That is how precious they are.
Here is Mr. Ken with Collins on Halloween. They spoiled the kids rotten with goodie bags and oohed and ahhed over their costumes. We are so thankful that God sent us such fun neighbors.
And we always love hanging out and cooking out with Wes and Evan and the boys. Just because they are moving 10 or 15 minutes away, we will still have to tailgate!
O - Our Church
We really love Covenant, our church. I grew up going there, but love how it is the same but different at the same time with a family of my own now. So many of our best and lifelong friends come from here, and I can't say enough about my friends and co-workers at the Mother's Day Out program. Two years ago we got a new pastor and Heath and I have loved the direction our church continues to go in. He (Bill Boyd) truly values community, and it has been fun deepening relationships in our church community! One of our favorite ways has been through family camp, where we took these 2 pictures.
Camp Covenant 2013
P - Preschool
Also at Covenant:) What would I do without that place? Turner and John Burke are old enough to attend Covenant Day School. Collins is still in the Mother's Day Out, but will be in the 2's next year. I heard people rave about our preschool, but the teacher in me kind of rolled my eyes. But, after having children in it for a couple of years I have to say how thankful I am for a school that continues to point my children to Christ. So often I watch them say prayers or sing songs that I would not have been intentional enough to do with them. They have wonderful and extremely patient teachers who I am beyond thankful for!!
A couple of weeks ago at the Fall Festival - Turner is in the 4 day 4's, John Burke in the 3's
Q - Questions
Oh wow, the questions. I should count how many there are a day. I love how inquisitive both my boys are. Collins isn't quite there yet, at least verbally. She loves to explore and wander around, but the boys love a good question. This age just leads to so many inquiries, and sometimes I just give up! Heath's face sometimes when they repeat an answer I gave them is priceless- confused or intrigued or just downright annoyed. It entertains me:)
Yesterday Mom went with us to Costco, and she pushed the buggy with the boys in it. I laughed out loud as Collins and I were behind her and GiGi was on the hot seat with all the questions. Hilarious.
R - Rest
This year was the first full year I wasn't pregnant or nursing a baby. While those things have been blessings in themselves, I have enjoyed stepping out in a little more freedom this year. I have been able to carve out a little more time to eat better (not just the survival mode with infants) and work out. I laughed at myself as I noticed the changing of the leaves so much more vividly this fall. The kids seem to be in a rhythm more this year as they are getting older, and I have come out of the fog that was the first few years of their lives. I praise the Lord for the rest He gives me in Him. I am also thankful for the rare days John Burke takes a nap, and proud of my champion Collins for sleeping and Turner for quietly entertaining himself for at least a little while in the afternoons!
S - Suburban
This little beaut is in the shop right now with a messed up transmission. So I have been thankful for my car more than usual this week. Since we live in the car (by choice - I love to be on the go), it has been so nice to have space in the car. I know this because I was lamenting said space this morning as John Burke was literally kicking Turner in the head on the way into school. That is much more difficult in the Suburban. Thank you, land yacht!!
One of my favorite views from the front seat
T - Turner
I love my firstborn. This sums him up - running off! He LOVES the water and was such a great swimmer this summer. He is loving anything pirate these days, and can study a map for hours and hours. I need to get him a globe! He wakes up happy and generally has a terrific attitude. Not nearly as observant as John Burke, but just happy to be doing whatever he is doing. Mostly:)
I had to document the first time I saw him write his name. He is loving learning this year - and it is fun to watch his little mind put things together. He loves puzzles and Legos (which I am learning are 3-D puzzles of sorts...as I "help" put things together). He is doing a much better job this year of listening and obeying at school - his teachers hold him to high expectations and I appreciate that. He is so full of life and loves to tell me how much he loves me, and I want him to stay like that!!
With his best frenemy. And yes, I do dress them the same every day. And no, I would not have thought I would ever do that. But they don't know any different and it makes picking out and buying and washing clothes so much easier, and it makes me giggle when I see it. Especially this outfit times 2! I know soon enough they are going to catch on that they should probably dress differently, but I am holding tight until then.
U - Unit
I have come to appreciate and adore our little family unit, warts and all. I often want to freeze time on the nights we snuggle up and watch Disney Junior (again!) or ride in the car for a night time Chick-fil-A run as a little family. I love watching the dynamics of the kids with us and with each other, though sometimes the boys are like puppies who wrestle and throw each other around. I find myself very appreciative of this phase of life and our little family unit!
Tee ball brothers - one watching the game, the other watching our blanket with cookies on it
Loving on Sis - she LOVES being the baby and the attention
Shirtless waterfall exploration
Rare sweet moments
These 2 are usually a team - she indulges whatever wild idea he gives her and toddles behind him
I love my monsters
The 5 of us - Halloween 2013
And a little shout out to the original Starr family unit - blessed and thankful for them too:)
Update - Derek has shaved the beard and mustache and looks so cute!
V - Vacations
We loved getting away to the beach this summer and to the mountains with friends. Heath and I traveled to the Masters (a first for me), and I ventured on a few trips to Atlanta with girlfriends. Thankful for such fun times and breaks from the day to day. And we may even get a trip to Disney in a few months for Christmas...we will have to see who is naughty and nice.
W - Walking
I have never been so thankful for walking in my life. This little peanut took her precious little time and wore down my patience with her stubbornness in learning to walk. We had her checked out and knew it wasn't medical. She is just strong-willed. I can't figure out where she gets it from. I am grateful for her therapist, Lindsey, who endured a lot of screaming and gnashing of teeth and full-out, hour-long fits and kept teaching her to take steps.
X,Y,Z - X-rays
This year marked 2 broken bones for our family. Collins broke her ankle/foot in January, ironically while practicing standing. She would probably accredit some of her walking hesitation to that, but I don't buy it. Then in May, Turner fell off of a trampoline and broke his arm. Luckily neither had to have a cast. Thankful for health insurance and kind and patient doctors who worked with us and provided great care. I know we take our health and day-to-day lives for granted, and we shouldn't!