Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kaley's 12th Birthday Trip

For Kaley's 12th Birthday she requested
that Meme (my Mother) & I take her
to Atlanta for a girl's only shopping trip!
 Kaley's 1st photo ID! 
Now she can shop in the Americas Mart
with her birthday $ from special family members.
Some of her Afternoon Finds at the Mart!
3 Generations of Shopaholics Refueling
on Bison at Ted's Montana Gril
 Night Out on the Town as Cinderellas!
 The Cheesecake Factory ~ Lenox Mall
We had a BLAST!  Thanks Meme for spoiling us!
Thanks Nathan for happily keeping the kiddos!
Happy 12th Birthday Miss Kaley!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Labor Day Is A Holiday Too!

     So if you've ever read here much, you know I'm into celebrations of any kind: new life, new beginnings, goals accomplished, birthdays, holidays, etc!  Usually in August we begin ordering homeschool curriculum, organizing activities, & making plans for the upcoming year.  We all look through the boxes of books with great anticipation.  We also take advantage of the back to school sales at our local Wally World, of course.  My oldest girls & I just LOVE browsing those isles & loading up on new supplies!  The beginning of a new school year is almost a natural high for me!  I especially get completely psyched!  We declutter the shelves, decorate the school walls, & count down the days!  We run to the school room on that 1st day just squealing!  It's pure JOY!
     Then. reality. really. sets. in.  We start getting more on schedule & waking up earlier.  I'm not a true morning person.  Our house is more of a "sleep late & wear our PJs" relaxing kinda family.  It becomes work, LOTS of work, lots of review, lots of papers, lots of tests, lots of new material to get use to.  Just when it feels this way comes Labor Day.
     THANK GOD FOR LABOR DAY!  We always sleep in!  It's like heaven on Earth on a Monday!  Seriously!  The kiddos are all tuckered out.  We've been through a major schedule change & adjustment.  This year we had just gotten back from a preaching trip to Alabama which made for an extremely busy weekend.  This brings us home dragging in suitcases, pack & plays, & an explosion of laundry at the very least.  Also, our van somehow appears to be lived in & even possibly infested with extraterrestrial beings!  Ha!
    & what do we do?  Wake up making commitments to unpack, wash laundry, & tidy up our vehicle like any normal human beings would?  I think not!  That would possibly rate right up there with blasphemy in my book!  It's a holiday!!!  Live a little!  Instead, we pull out the laptop & search out something rather local to do with the kiddos, trying to hold on to our last bit of summer!
     We decide on the islands of Jekyll & St Simons.  They are literally side by side & we can arrive in about an hour and a half or so.  We score a great hotel on the beach with several pools for a winning bid of $53.  Thanks Priceline!  Jekyll sports a water park with low fees for afternoon entrance while St Simons is home to several of our favorite restaurants.  So in record time, we dump suitcases literally in my bedroom floor, grab a change of clothes & swim clothes, & we're off!  The best part?  The holiday weekend is coming to a close.  Literally, I can count on 1 hand how many folks we saw on the beach or in the pools besides us.  It was like we had the place to ourselves!  We may have struck gold missing the crowds & having a great time relaxing together.  It makes this Mama's heart smile to sit listening to the waves, smelling the surf, feeling the water wash over my feet, squishing sand between my toes, & watching my kiddos blissfully play without a care in this world!  The fresh seafood & rich desserts were certainly a plus also!!!  I feel super blessed to enjoy this getaway as say farewell to summer!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Our Raegan's 5th Wedding Birthday Party

Little Miss Raegan celebrated her
5th birthday wedding style! 
She LOVES everything wedding! 
Sisters make the best bridesmaids!
Clay must be the ninja security!  ;)
Graham napped sweetly through
almost the whole party!
Thanks for cousins participating in
 "the walk down the isle" & dancing!
Brad & Heather, how can we ever repay
you for putting up with our craziness?
Thanks EE for the beautiful cake!
Papa, you grill the best chicken! 
Thanks Meme for the awesome party
& wonderful decorations!
She is still playing hard
with all of her presents! :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Our Honeymoon Spot...5 Kiddos Later

     With all of the new changes in our life, we needed a getaway!  So we planned very little, packed a lot, & headed north!  I was expecting fun, but it was so much more than that!
    First, we stopped in one of our favorite cities, Atlanta.  We met up with special friends of ours at the Atlanta Buckarama.  We all enjoy hunting, so these outdoor shows are fun for our whole bunch.  That night we made our way east, looking forward to being in Sunday services with even more of our friends.  Nathan preached both times in 2 different churches.  The fellowship in North GA is amazing.  It's definitely one of our favorite places to go to church!!!
    Monday morning we headed further to north.  My sweet husband had a special idea!  We revisited our honeymoon spot in Helen, GA.  Us & the kiddos were all very excited!  The alpine village is so beautiful!  We picked one of the many little German restaurants & ate a traditional German lunch.   This was a 1st for us, & surprisingly, all of us enjoyed it.  The weather, even in August, was awesome!  We tubed down the river for hours.  What a FUN adventure that was!  The rocks made small rapids in the shallow waters.  We are convinced that there is nothing more fun on this earth for $3 each!  We were all VERY impressed & would love to do that again sometime!  Then, we strolled around the village shops enjoying the ice cream, candy, & fudge.  The kiddos all bought several souvenirs.  Then, we loaded up for a curvy ride up the mountain roads for a small hike to see this beauty:
     After our hike, we drove even further fact, we rode up to North GA state line.  Nathan has a cousin who owns North GA Taxidermy there.  How cool is that?  We own South GA Taxidermy, & he owns North GA Taxidermy?  We didn't even know each other 'til we meet through the GA Taxidermy Association a few years back.  Now, we are all very close.  Andrew comes down to see us, hunts, & they can both work together.  We have been blessed to meet him.  We are all the same age & share a love for the outdoors!  This is the 1st time we have visited his place!
Andrew's Place Hand Built By His Grandfather,
Which Is A Part of Nathan's Family Too
 His Beautiful Kitchen He Recently Remodeled
Using Rough Sawed Lumber

         Over the next few days, we all enjoyed spending time with Andrew.  As you can probably tell, he has a beautiful place!  Here in South GA, we are not use to the rolling hills that are filled with cattle & horses, mountain streams, less humidity with cooler temperatures, basements which make your houses 3 story, or being woke up at night by the BEAR IN THE YARD!!!  That was an experience!  Still as much as we love where we live, we both miss the open windows & sleeping as you hear all the beautiful sounds of nature!  After the kiddos would go to bed, we would all visit out on the porch for hours talking & laughing...catching up on all the funny stories from yesteryear when we didn't know one another even existed.
The kiddos LOVE Andrew too! 
He makes our big family feel right at home!
     On the way back home, we made a few more stops.  One was in the tourist town of Blue Ridge.  It was also a lovely little mountain town with lots of quaint shops & restaurants.  Since it was Wednesday, we also made one last stop to a friend's home to go to church with them.  They are our special friends who also own a taxidermy shop.  Their shop is Alvoy Taxidermy in Covington, GA.  The kiddos loved seeing their pet turkeys & chasing their rabbits all over the yard!  Mr. Ray smoked up some mean chicken & Ms. Judy cooked us a DELICIOUS home cooked meal full of garden vegetables!  It tasted like home but even better since I didn't have to cook it!  Lol  They are such a wonderful couple!  Not everyone can take all of us in, feed us, get us ready for church, & make us feel right at home all at the same time!  The church service afterwards was very touching.  We look forward to being with them again in the near future as Nathan accepted the invitation to preach a Homecoming Sunday there.  After service, Nathan was a great trooper who drove us a few more hours home while we all slept!
     This was a very refreshing vacation for us!  We enjoyed church services everywhere we went, fellowshipped with lots of special friends & family, ate tons of great food, fished, swam, hiked through beautiful country side, tubed down the river, spent tons of time as a family, shopped 'til we about dropped, & made it home safe!  Thank you Lord for such a wonderful vacay!