Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas in Music City

How can it possibly be too late to blog about Christmas when there are picture treasures like these that have yet to make a blog appearance?
(I still can't figure out why anyone might think these boys are twins)

Before Christmas we celebrated in Music City with my family. 
My WHOLE family.
By a real Christmas miracle we all managed to be in one place at one time for several days.  It has been years since we were all home for Christmas together and it was a true gift.  Our family has grown considerably since the last time we gathered.  Ricky and I have added children and my brothers have added wives (or nearly added) so I finally get to have sisters when we are together!  That said, some of my very favorite memories of the whole season were those when the 12 (including RRL's sister) gathered around the table together laughing about memories and sharing about more recent life experiences.

Another favorite memory is one that gets recreated each year, but always makes my list.
The trip to Lynchburg and Mrs Bobos is always awesome.  Especially when celebrated with this fun crew.
Well, there was that one year...but we won't talk about that. 
I love the fellowship of cousins (old and young)
The fun to be had with Aunts and Uncles.

And of course, anywhere you go with Nonna and Papa J is a TREAT.

Actually, its a treat to be with Nonna and Papa J, even when you aren't going anywhere at all.  In fact, some of the trio's favorite things happen at Nonna and Papa J's house, without going anywhere at all.
Like making biscuits.

And celebrating Christmas.
I love this picture of all of us waiting upstairs before we got to go open presents.  The Aunts and Uncles were great sports about being woken up to head downstairs.  Which is quite amusing to this momma because two of those uncles used to always be the ones to wake ME up to enjoy the morning.

A Christmas highlight this year was going to sing at the nursing home my mom worked for.  The kids LOVE performing for a room full of "grandparents".  Seriously, my kids are naturally not very shy, but this was bold even for them.  They sang, said memory verses, told Christmas poems and just generally entertained.  Must have been the microphone.
And just in case anyone was worried that the trio found some fun to be had while their Daddy and I were off celebrating our anniversary, let me just put those fears to rest.  They had an awesome time being entertained by Nonna, Papa J and Aunt B with everything from adventures outside to going to the zoo to getting to make a special visit to the children's place I loathe most on the planet...CHUCK E CHEESE.  Yep, they were spoiled indeed.

 But my two very favorite memories from the whole week are wrapped up the next two pictures.  They really aren't anything that significant to anyone except their momma, but when I remember Christmas from 2011 these are the two memories I can picture myself thinking back on with a smile.

First of all, around Christmas time, Lou started LOVING to help in the kitchen.  Whether setting the table, helping cook, you name she is right there.  So, when Nonna asked her to wipe the counters after making biscuits she was ON IT.  And even if she didn't quite know how to finish the job, she is smart enough to figure it out...She didn't know that Nonna and I were watching as she meticulously gathered all of the crumbs into a little pile, looked both ways then casually pulled the baking sheet that was on the counter over the little pile.  ALL CLEAN.  Oh, this girl is something else I tell ya.

My other favorite memory of the rascals was getting to sit just far enough away from them at Christmas dinner to hear their conversation.  They were at their own little table, just behind my chair.  Its the first time I can really remember that they just sat and ate and talked and laughed and entertained themselves through the whole meal.  Their conversation ranged all over the map.  I had to restrain my giggles at the things they intently discussed.  It was such a special glimpse for me into the amazing relationship these three are forming.

There ya have it!  Christmas in Music City 2011.!


And CELEBRATE we did...

As I mentioned, we had a LOT to celebrate last Wednesday.  Thanks to the sweet gift of over-night babysitting by grandparents and Aunt B, we enjoyed more than 24 hours of just that...

We started with breakfast at one of our favorite places.  It just so happens that this is also the restaurant where RRL asked my Daddy if he could marry me.

 Then we headed out to be tourists in the town I grew up in.  So much has changed since I lived there, even places I visited as a child are much different.  We really enjoyed seeing the sights, but I am fairly certain that we would have enjoyed just about anything that day.  We just have so much fun being together.
Case in point, we even LOVED our lunch of side-of-the road-cart hotdogs and chip.  We giggled and enjoyed our lunch.  It is amazing how good food can taste when you share it with someone you love...and don't have to share bites of it with any little someones.

 As my big surprise from RRL, we checked into this fun hotel that has totally been restored since the last time I was there.  I, of course, loved the tribute to old railroad days.  It was beautiful.

 Next stop, change clothes and head out for a nice dinner downtown.  YUMMY! 
And just because we could (and because we had tickets from Christmas), we went to a late movie.

The next morning, we WILLED ourselves to sleep late...when that only lasted until 8:30 or so, we ate breakfast and went to one more museum (here is where I insert a huge THANK YOU to my Daddy who certainly made traveling as "tourists" in Nville so affordable with passes to museums)

All this celebrating must have putt RRL in an EXTRA good mood because he consented to a girly lunch at one of my favorite places.  The place where I ate with my bridesmaids the day before our wedding.  A place where the median age is somewhere just past grey-hair and the only men in sight are those that have been dragged along.  A place where the common language is barely recognizable because it is dripping with sweet southern drawl...which is only slightly less sweet to me than the restaurant's amazing tea punch.  He let me indulge on this piece of "home" without complaining a bit.  Yep, he certainly loves me.

And I can't think of anyone better to celebrate with!
Loved our day together!!

Family Photo Treasures

I seriously married into a VERY talented family...and we are totally benefiting from that talent.  We had some amazing pictures taken last fall by one of RRL's cousins who operates Eden Hayes Photography.  If you click on that link to her photography blog you will see an ADORABLE picture of her three children, one of whom was born this summer.  So, rightfully so, she took a break from business for a few months.

When we heard that another set of RRL's incredibly talented cousins was doing mini-shoots this fall we were excited to have updated family pictures taken.  I can't WAIT to share the results with you.  You've seen some of them already.  They took the pictures we used for our Christmas card and the ones on the post about our anniversary.  AMAZING. 

You'll definitely want to check out "Three" for your family photos, but especially if you are planning a wedding.  I L-O-V-E their wedding work.  They also do invitations and signs.  Really, your event would not be complete without them- and I'm not just saying that because they are family.  Check 'em out and their website will speak for itself. Seriously.

I actually have two photo-shoots to share with you.

They took pictures of RRL's whole family this spring and did a great job, especially considering there were 6 little ones aged 5 and under. 

And then they took pictures of our little team of 5 this fall. 
Do you know how rare it is that I walk away from taking pictures and have an awesome picture of of my crazies?  And just look at these three...

They also captured some super sweet moments between us with out kiddos
and of our three showing just how much they really DO love each other.

Of course like anytime you try to take pictures of three kids this age, there were also moments of
pouting                    sassy-ness              and just plain 'ole running away.
But I also LOVE that they captured those in such a fun and creative way.
These are actually some of my favorite pictures.

Part of what made this shoot so successful, I think, is because the photographers really worked to keep it light hearted and fun.  There was lots of running, laughing, playing, swinging.
(Of course there were also some moments of bribing for smiles)

And in the end, there were so many good family pictures that it was difficult to choose just ONE for our Christmas card.  Not that I'm complaining.  I count it a success when all 5 of us are just looking in the general direction of the camera at the same time.  I'd say this far exceeded that standard.  I was thrilled with the results.

Thanks SO MUCH, Three
We are so grateful to have this time season for our family so well documented and captured.  Treasures!

I'm so thankful for talented family!

Friday, December 30, 2011

REWIND: More than a Movie

FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, folks...RRL makes an appearance as a guest blogger on DRRF.  It only makes sense.  The idea was all his, and the women of the house were sound asleep while this fun was taking place so I could not possibly do the details justice.

So, without further ado... the grand debut.

This past summer was one of the biggest highlights in our little 5 & 3-year-olds' lives. KJ and Cbug had both been waiting forever for their new favorite movie to come out...Cars 2. They were so excited to get to go see it in Nashville with Nonna and Papa J as well as aunts and uncles but that wasn't enough. They had to take their cousin to see it too. BUT that was just the precursor to the biggest highlight for the fall.

On November 1, 2011 Cars 2 came out on DVD which meant the boys could watch it anytime they wanted. So to make it a memorable experience I decided the best thing to do would be to get the boys up at midnight and take a trip to Walmart in search of this important movie release.

So at about 11:30, I woke the boys up. They had no idea what was going on. This is the first time we have done anything like this (the next closest is getting up at like 4 AM to go to Nonna's house). As they struggled to open their eyes I repeated 3 or 4 times that we needed to get up to go get the Cars 2 DVD as soon as it came out. Once their ears started working they both got very excited and could hardly get up fast enough.
We loaded in the van and headed down the road to Super Walmart. Now on the way I wanted to make sure they didn't get any wild ideas in their head that we were going to watch the movie when we got back so I started planting the seed early so I had plenty of time to repeat it just to make sure it sunk in. "Now boys, we are just going to get the DVD tonight. We won't be watching it when we get home. Since it's the middle of the night we need to go right back to bed when we get back." and some variation of this as many times as I could slip it in.
As we arrived at SWM I realized that I had become one of "those parents" that I often looked down on for having their kids out that late walking around Walmart and I got a few looks that I assume were pretty good reflections of ones I've given. I realized rather quickly it didn't stop me from continuing on and in turn my future idea of what people were doing with their kids out that late would very much be clouded by the thought that I have NO clue why they are there and the circumstances that led to that. Maybe, just maybe, it is a dad (or mom) just trying to create memories for their kids.
Moving quickly to the back of the store the boys were on the hunt. They knew exactly what to look for, or so they thought, but after a few minutes we literally couldn't find the movie anywhere. Then I noticed a lady unpacking movies from boxes. I hadn't thought about the fact that they would start unpacking them at midnight and we might have gotten there a little early. However, she noticed us wandering around and asked what movie we were trying to find. Once the boys excitedly told her, she was more than happy to search the boxes to find just what we needed.

With our movie in hand, we checked out and headed back home. In the car on the way home I was just about to give my little reminder when KJ spoke up and said "Dad, when we get home we are going back to bed right?" and Cbug agreed. I smiled and said yes but that we would for sure watch the movie the next day. "Good" KJ said "I'm tired". I'm so glad both our boys like their sleep.

If you've made it to this point in the post you will be happy to know this is about way more than a movie. It's about making memories and spending time and sacrificing sleep to make sure that these brothers know without a doubt how much they are loved and, I pray, learn how much they can rely on each other on the journey they will share.


Isn't he amazing?  Best part- he was quite willing to make this memory with the boys WHILE I stayed in bed.  Thanks, Babe, for being so intentional about making sweet memories for us all!