Saturday, December 26, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

the upstairs tree

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Mom and Dad have a beautiful artificial tree which we put up downstairs in the living room. But one of our favorite traditions each year is going to the tree farm and choosing the perfect tree to chop down and take home. I’ve had to rethink a lot of our Christmas traditions lately. Some we had to let go when we moved away from our previous city. But some we’ve been able to hang on to. We found a brand new Christmas tree farm to play hide and seek in this year. I discovered the joys of choosing a “small” tree. Our small space upstairs = small tree that can be carried by one person + takes 2 hours to decorate instead of the usual 2 days. Win all around.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cute Whale 2.0

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We live close enough to the Georgia Aquarium to visit once every year or so. It’s become one of my favorite places and I do my best to make it a priority during the year.

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For one thing, the facility is huge. We spent seven hours there during our last visit and still barely saw everything. Fish never get old. The same exibits seem brand new every time we go.

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And here’s the other reason we go. It involves my Jon and that enormous whale shark right there. He is enamored with that fish in such a way that we saved this part for the very end. And then we sat and watched him with his nose pressed to the glass as the whale shark swam by again and again. I think they are kindred spirits.

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Jon has never been the kid that needed a “lovey” blanket to cuddle with, but on our aquarium trip in 2013 we bought him a stuffed whale shark, which he named Cute Whale. CW is not the most treasured stuffed animal you’ve ever seen, but he’s certainly the most loved. He’s been on every road trip, fallen out of the car during rest stops, thrown down the hallway when a ball wasn’t available, lost and rescued from every location imaginable (behind the bed, under the carseat, stuffed inside Grandaddy’s shirt pocket).

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You may have already guessed where this was going… On this trip to the aquarium Jon aquired a new Cute Whale. Not a replacement for the old one, just so we’re clear. But two is better than one, or so he managed to convince his daddy.

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Other headlines for October and November:

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Lone Ranger and Tonto hit the neighborhood for their first year of old fashioned trick-or-treating, decide it’s too much work ringing all those doorbells, and decide to do Cracker Barrel instead. 

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Check out these two cuties on the day after Thanksgiving, wasting no time getting their Christmas cheer on.

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December’s here and leaving fast. Enjoy family, read all the Christmas books and make the biggest gingerbread house you can (to maximize the sugar you can eat later).

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Hope your December has been merry and bright.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

life as we know it

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One of my favorite things about being an adult is the freedom to make adventures for ourselves. Spontaneous moments, contrived on a whim are what I think about when I want an adventure. It’s exciting and fun in theory, but reality usually dictates our adventures should be carefully planned out, with every detail attended to. Trips to the beach, meticulously packed for. Weather checked. Restaurant menus previewed. Location mapped. Potty breaks planned. “No, we can’t stop yet!”

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Somewhere along the line, the adventure takes on a new definition. It’s not really an adventure anymore. It’s no longer an action of uncertain outcome. We’ve planned ourselves into a rut and plowed the excitement right out of the equation.

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You know what’s really an adventure? Things that happen during the course of everyday life that we don’t plan for or anticipate happening. When you’re thrown a curveball, your attitude makes the difference between an unfortunate circumstance and an amazing adventure. That’s what I’m learning lately.

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You see, almost a year ago when the Army reassigned Caleb to a new duty station, we planned to only live with my parents for six months while we looked for a house of our own in the area. We planned to store our furniture and most of our belongings in a storage unit until we could move them into the new house. We planned for life to be a temporary transition for six months. And we planned to be okay with that.

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We didn’t plan for life as we knew it to completely change. For six months to turn into a year. For us to learn heaps about ourselves, about who we are and what we value most. We didn’t plan to fall in love with my parents, and all the things they could teach our children. We didn’t plan to get rid of most of our belongings and embrace living here for as long as life allows. But that is what has happened. And it is truly great that it has.

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That isn’t to say I haven’t struggled with all of this. Boy, have I struggled with the stigma. Because society tells me that I need a beautifully decorated house of my own to be successful. And that moving back in with your parents only happens to people who are struggling financially or have no other option. When I tell people we live with my parents and my grandmother, I get a lot of different responses. Usually all variations of the same question: “Why?”

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There are so many reasons why. We like the schools here. We like the neighbors. We like our church. We like our lake. We get along so well with my parents. We still own our previous house and don’t relish the thought of owning two at once.

But really, the answer is so much simpler than all that. Once you open your heart and accept that home is not the building you live in, not the stuff you put on your shelves and not defined by whether or not you own the place where you sleep at night… When you find joy in whatever situation you’re in, that makes it home.

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You’re catching on, Jackie! Why leave now.

Friday, August 7, 2015

beachy goodness

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I used to think living on a lake meant you never needed to go to the beach. I mean, why would you? Lake life means spending every day of summer on the dock with your toes in the water, a fresh slice of watermelon in one hand and a book in the other. Or so I used to think. Bonus: no sharks or riptides to worry about. Who needs the beach?!

The reality is that living on the lake is just about the same as living anywhere else. It’s only as wonderful as you make it. There are some days we wake up, breathe in the beautiful view, swim as much as we want and remember to be thankful every minute for lake living. And then there are days when we march past the window with to-do list in hand, we fold laundry instead of soaking up the sun and we forget to have afternoon coffee on the deck. Those days feel like a waste of summer, until I remember it’s all about finding the balance.

So, in the spirit of balance we made time for the beach this summer. Because there’s nothing quite like the marriage of green and blue and purple and white. Because hermit crabs only camp out in salty water. Because it’s a wonderful adventure and a chance to be grateful for five hours in the car together. Because growing a little closer happens whether you expect it or not. That’s why we did it this summer.

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