Life is Good

Last year was so hard ya’ll.  Yes, we had a ton of good, but surgeries, adoption trips, stresses were all in there.  When we capped it off with losing our twins, Mark and I both knew we needed a trip away.  Mark’s parents graciously agreed to watch the kiddos.  I begged for a relaxing getaway close by.  Mark agreed (he really wanted to do a cruise again but I really wanted to just rest).

We went to my favorite beach on the east coast, Jekyll Island.

 

Of course, a trip to the southern coast is not complete without a pit stop to Pineland.  Ya’ll, they have the absolute best pastries and breads!

Mark reluctantly agreed to my cheesy pose.

The rest of this blog post are pictures of the beach and our happy times!  It wound up raining and tornado warning like crazy on Saturday night and Sunday.  But, it was clear enough for us to go on a 17 mile bike ride around the island.  The thunderstorms meant we had a good deal of time to relax and rest.

Friday we decided to take a walk on the beach before supper.  We wound up walking all the way to where we wanted to eat.  Mark had to chase the birds on the way.
Saturday, we biked.  And biked and biked.  And found treasures like Driftwood Beach

And the marshes…

We found Ace’s store.

And visited the remains of the oldest settlement on Jekyll.

We stopped at our hotel for lunch and snacked at the park right next door.  These little squirrels desperately wanted to join our meal.  While Mark was running to the room, one of the squirrels even jumped on the bench beside me and sniffed at my shoe.

Our much deserved reward for 17 miles of cycling.

In January and February, Jekyll has an island treasure hunt.  They hide glass blown decorative balls all over the island.  We searched for two days but never found one.  However, our search led to another part of the island I had never seen and it was absolutely picture worthy!

If you go to Jekyll, you must cycle to St. Andrews Beach.  It was so peaceful and gorgeous. We met some deer too!

We found a great Tex-Mex restaurant on the island.

A fruitless treasure hunt led to a mad dash for covering when the rain began to pour down…and a great selfie.  One of my favorite pictures of us of all time.

Sunday, we decided to use a movie gift card and head to see Rogue One and then eat at my favorite restaurant on neighboring St. Simon’s Island, Barbara Jean’s.  We crossed the giant bridge to St. Simon’s in a tornado warning and got there just as the storm hit the island.  Five minutes after we ordered, the owner called and told them to shut down (not a big deal since we were one of two sets of customers).  They brought our food out quickly.  We ate as fast as we could so they could close up and then we headed back out in the crazy weather.

Always an adventure!

A Whole Bunch of Characters

While visiting the EC, Papa and Grandmere requested we try to get a whole family picture that Sunday after church.  They drove over for church and pictures and Aunt B lined up a photographer.

The photographer did a wonderful job.  It’s no easy feat getting nineteen kids and six adults lined up for pictures.

Alas, she succeeded!

The nineteen kids in question.  Okay, there were better pictures but this one.  Well, this is their personalities shining through and I couldn’t resist.  Look at Emmie and cousin A!  They were so adorable!

Grandmere and the granddaughters!  They may be small in number but they are mighty in spirit!

Papa and the grandsons!  Numbers and spirit exceedingly great!

We even managed to get a pretty good shot!  I love our little fam.

 

To the Country

Top priority this year was to go see the EC.  That’s short for Mark’s brother and his family.  The kids were blessed to spend time with them while we traveled back and forth to Ukraine and frankly, Mark and I were jealous.  We needed some niece and nephew time and good ol’ visiting with Mark’s brother and wife.

In January, we were off.  We spent three and half days with eighteen children and four adults under one roof.  Oh yes we did.  Our kids were a blast!  And Mark and I got in our much needed visiting time!

A and Emmie had so much fun with the babies. Of course, reading books was a favorite.  Josiah with cousin H. Games were a must.

Mark got a great panorama shot of family worship!

My niece G.  Our nieces are growing into some pretty amazing young ladies! Liam and Uncle B had a good round of Uno.

This year the EC asked for really nice swings for Christmas so they could read outside.  Mark and Uncle B installed them while we visited.  And of course we all had to test them out.

 

The EC have a great piece of property which includes goats, chickens, cows, cats and a dog.  While we were there, Uncle B came home from a vet call with a calf who didn’t look like it was going to make it.  The kids absolutely loved spending time on the farm and feeding the animals.  And, as of last report, we were informed the calf was doing good and thriving.

As you can imagine, leaving the farm is tough.  Really, leaving the cousins is tough.  They made a ton of memories and it’s such a blessing to see cousins that get along…even if they (along with a sibling) leave you stranded at the pond to find your own way home.  I continue to pray that they will all stay close as they grow up.

While we visited, we crashed a birthday party (with permission of the hosts) of some of their friends.  It was a great time meeting new people and watching a bonfire!


I could not have imagined a better visit.  We’re waiting ever so impatiently until we can see them all again!

 

Celebrate

Still in December.  It worked out perfectly to spend time at Ge and Granddaddy’s house celebrating Christmas and December  birthdays the week Emmie had her MRI and appointment with her neurosurgeon. We even got some good visiting time with Uncle J and Aunt Yaya and family. Present time is always exciting. Oh man, I don’t know if Emmie is excited about another baby or not. 😉

Aunt Yaya’s family was in-between houses during Christmas, so I made up a fun gift for the niece and nephew.  Lots of fun goodies tucked in there.  I know they are old teenagers but they can still have fun.  I’m pretty certain I win the Crazy-Old-Aunt Award.

Double piggies…this girl!

Granddaddy’s hat is always fun to try on.

There is a Lego store just down from where Ge and Granddaddy live.  A big one!  We took the kids there the day before MRI day and we all had a blast.

You can create your own mini-figures.  So, I made one of Emmie’s neurologist and one of her neurosurgeon.  Next time we go, I’ll have to actually make them and buy them for the docs! Emmie loved this little table. Drawers ya’ll.  Drawers full of Lego bricks everywhere!  

 

Fantasy in Lights

For the kids Christmas in 2016, we decided to give them experiences rather than material gifts.  Having recently just rearranged our playroom, I am SOOOOO glad we did this.  Nine kids generate a lot of stuff.   A LOT of stuff.

Anyway, we took the kids to Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens.

When we told them what we were doing, they were a little skeptical that it would actually be fun.  The only two brave souls for pictures!

At the end of the trip, though, they all agreed it was the best Christmas lights display we had ever seen.

What we do

for free doughnuts… On October 31st, Krispy Kreme gives a free doughnut to anyone dressed in costume.  The kids were game and went to work the day before to find things around their house for their costumes.  We have Anna (the mama), Alice in Wonderland, Spiderman and a slew of characters from The Wingfeather Saga book series.

I know these guys are probably not familiar to many people, but to us, well they represent hours of audio books in the van.  Since we tend to accrue audible credits, we splurged on a four book series called The Wingfeather Saga written by one of my all time favorite singer/songwriters, Andrew Peterson.  The kids hung on every word they heard (and Christmas brought the actual books which have been slowly making their rounds among our readers).  The fun part of this picture is that we shared it with Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Facebook page.  He, in turn, shared it with his personal performance page and on the Wingfeather Saga blog.  My kids had their 15 minutes of fame.  Yes, the doughnuts and this bit of fame definitely made their day.

Zoo Trip

We absolutely love taking trips to the zoo.  And that means I love sharing pictures of our adventures at the zoo.

Feeding some super excited lorakeets.
Touch a snake.  I love petting snakes!  At least a couple of the kids were willing to pet too. Sky high kids.
Saying hello to da birds. Trying to catch a glimpse of sea lions.

3…2…1…SLIDE!

Reunited

I can’t believe another ten years has passed since I walked the hallowed halls of my high school alma mater.  And yet, it has.  In September, we made the trek to our hometown (Mark and I graduated from the same high school) and spent time with our family and some of my classmates. We attended a high school football team and cheered on my nephew.  Ya’ll I have a nephew old enough to play high school football.  Emmie had a wonderful time and was cheering and yelling along with us.   Playing at Papa and Grandmere’s house is always a treat. We took the kids over to a local lake where we braved sprinkling rain to play on the playground and feed ducks and capture Pokemon. 

Emmie was patting her leg trying to call the ducks to her.  They wouldn’t listen.

Jump! Jump!

Josiah and Bryant requested a trip to Airstrike for their birthdays.  Since it would cost us about a week or two worth of groceries if we had gone on their actual birthdays, we had them wait until school started back to go.  When school is in session, Monday nights are family nights and cheap to jump for our whole crew. Malachi and Bryant have been captured by blue and green hands!
Seeing Emmie’s confidence grow since the halo has come off has been amazing to watch.  She jumped, walked and giggled and was always full of smiles. Silas’s first jumping trip!