Ivy Turns Four!

Christmas Day, 2018–Ivy turned four. We spent Christmas morning celebrating Christmas, and the afternoon celebrating our littlest girl. She wanted a donut tree, like she saw at Aunt Haylee’s baby shower.

Here she is on Christmas Eve–Ivy’s last day as a three!


And the silly one, in her favorite skirt and new robe, on Christmas morning–first day as a four!


Building bridges with crackers. Love her face!

Birthday Banner time. She was delighted to have her cousins celebrating with her (perk of a Christmas Day birthday!).


In our house, four is a big year, because it’s the year you’re old enough for LEGOS! Ivy was delighted to be ushered into the lego club, and her siblings had fun picking out which ones she’d get.

Happy Birthday, dear Ivy! She told me before her birthday that she loved having her birthday be on Christmas, because it means that everyone gets presents. That sweetness, that thoughtfulness and generosity and care for those she loves–that’s our Ivy. Happy birthday, little one. You’re so loved.


December, 2018

And on went the crazy, right into December. I packed, and Jeremy wrote a paper for seminary and worked. The kids entertained themselves, helped pack, and watched a lot of movies. We took a lot of pictures to remember this sweet house that we called home for ten years.

Aunt Steph and Lydia came to help pack, and our small group helped us get everything into the POD. We discovered a leak under the driveway and had to turn water off to the house (on to shower and fill bathtubs, off for the rest of the time)– FOR WEEKS. The insurance and repair companies were very slow. So–packing, no water, Christmas is coming…

Laura and Mom came to stay for Christmas, and we explored the dry lakebed and went on a hike. And kept the house immaculate, and left for showings every day.


12/4 – we discover the driveway leak

12/6 – we go under contract on the house we want to buy

12/7 – Aunt Steph and Lydia come; we pack the POD

12/8 – Curtis comes up for four days to do repairs and updates. I am painting and cleaning. Jeremy is writing his paper and working.

12/10 – new house inspection. Jeremy, Curtis, Mom, the kids and I all go. It’s only my second time in the house, which feels crazy.

12/12 – Jeremy turns in his paper (yay!). We do yard work and take a trip to the dump.

12/13 – I mop myself out the door and take the kids to wander around a sports store while someone takes pictures of the house for the website.

12/14 – we go on the market!

12/15 – due diligence is over on the new house. We’re committed!

12/17 – the leak is finally getting fixed. First two showings!

12/18 – two more showings

12/19 – one showing and an offer (got rescinded before we could accept, because their house sale fell through)

12/21 – eight showings so far. Now it’s slowing down for Christmas

12/23 – Jeremy preaches at church.

Everyone was a little sad about this being our last Christmas in the Rock House. So to counteract all the lasts, I decided it would be the Christmas of the Snowmen. It was so fun wrapping the kids’ gifts this way, and they were delighted. The Whatleys, the Gieres, Mom, and Laura were here with us, and it was a really nice celebration–a break from the packing and a time of refocusing.

After Christmas, my mom took the three big kids to Florida for a week–fewer people to worry about keeping everything clean for showings. Mason and Ivy both got really sick, and it was pitiful to drag them out into the car and drive away a few times a day for showings, but they were cheerful little troopers. We sat in the church parking lot and watched movies in the car a few times.

It was an exhausting way to end the year, but we were full of hope for new beginnings.

November, 2018

November was a crazy, crazy month. One for the record books. It started with a super-fun trip for me–a surprise birthday celebration for a dear friend. We kidnapped her and took her to Chattanooga overnight. It was rainy and cold and fun.


Wedding Celebration

The next day was an overnight trip to Jacksonville to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. All the cool kids were wearing dark red (see below), Laina and Micah lit up the dance floor, rivaled only by Nan and Uncle Mark. Aunt Steph has five kids, spaced exactly the same as my five kids. Bottom picture: her baby on her lap and my baby on mine.


Farewell, Friends

And then came the saddest bit–saying goodbye to our dear friends, who were moving home to Australia. The Wheatleys became such good friends to us during their time here in GA. We homeschooled together, ate BBQ together, celebrated birthdays and holidays (introduced them to Thanksgiving!), watched the eclipse together, worshipped at church and studied at small group together. We miss them fiercely, still.


We had them over for BBQ one last time. We hosted an open-house going-away party. We cried many tears. Australia is far away–but we are so thankful for the time we shared face-to-face with them, and we are so thankful for FaceTime now!

Florida Trip

A few days after they left, we headed to Florida. We went to Orlando first, where the kids and I hung out while Jeremy flew to Colorado for a work trip. We canoed and went to the beach.

Then we went to the Hot Air Balloon Festival, where the kids got to jump in these jumpy things (like how descriptive I can be?).

And then Laina and I, along with Titus, Laura, and Curtis, actually went up in a hot air balloon. Seriously, something I’ve always wanted to do. It was a tethered ride, but I’m counting it as crossed off the bucket list (although now that I’ve tasted it, I’d for sure go on a “real” ride). It was so much louder than I thought it would be, and the heat from the fire was intense when it was firing. But it was so fun. We went up in the blue and green one below.


After Orlando, we drove to Brandenton to spend Thanksgiving with Jeremy’s family. Cory spent most of his free time fishing and hooked 20 fish in one day. We slid down a snow hill on tubes, ate a lot, visited with family, and packed a lot of fun into a few short days.

Big Decision

In Florida, I talked to Nan about how they decided to move from a house that my grandfather built for them to the Lake House where I grew up. The house they lived in before, they loved. It was close to his brothers and their families, and it was, of course, amazing and special because he built it. But when it seemed, for various reasons, like it wasn’t a good fit for their kids, my grandparents decided to move to the lake. It was a beautiful property with a house that needed a lot of work, and it was better for their family. Hearing her talk about this was interesting to me, because I grew up at that lake house, and it was always the best place in the world to me. But it wasn’t, at first, to my grandparents (until they made it a home).┬áNan was encouraging me to think about if it would be better for my kids to move to land, or to build on to our house to give us more space. Jeremy and I had talked about moving now and then, but always we decided that we loved our home more than any we could find in our area, so we’d stay put.


When we got home, I told Jeremy about my conversation with Nan. We were running into several issues in our family, and when we have people over, and we wondered if more space would help alleviate them. I broke it down into three possible solutions: 1. drastically reduce our possessions and keep on top of it, changing how we and our families do gifts, etc, so we have more space. 2. add on to the back of our house. 3. move.

I was pretty sure #2 was the answer, and was stunned when Jeremy said he thought we should move. Both of us like living in a relatively small house (by American standards, for the size family we have, etc). But we realized that, just as my grandparents left their forever home to better serve their kids, we needed to do the same. Jeremy clarified the issue by saying that, rather than deciding “We’ll move if we find a house we like better than this one,” we needed to say, “We need to move. Let’s pick the best house we can.” Game-changer.

(I know this is getting long, but I want to remember how it all came about, and God’s faithfulness and leading in the midst of a big decision.)

It’s important to us to live in a neighborhood. We wanted big enough living and kitchen spaces that our small group and others who come over and served well. Jeremy works from home, so we needed office space. And our kids are loud and crazy–they need space to run. And I need TREES. Could we find all of that, in our price range, still in the area our church reaches? We doubted it. I pulled Zillow up on my phone and typed in a few qualifications. And up came a house, with another for sale next door to it. It looked promising.

The next day, we drove by it, and we loved it. We went to go see it a few days later, and on my mom’s advice, saw the one next door, too, so we could compare them.

The first house was a no-go, because of the layout. The next door add-on? It was perfect. Coming home, we talked to the kids for a long time (they had come to see it too, of course). Together, with a lot of worries and sadness about leaving our home, we decided to pursue this new place.

It had Scripture on the walls, and homeschool books in the basement. The family had five kids. I wrote them a letter, telling them about us, and how much we loved their house, asking them to go under contract with a contingency clause. The house had been on the market since October, so we didn’t know what they’d say. But they agreed, if we could get our house on the market in two weeks. We got to work.


11/24 – we decide to move. I find the two houses on Zillow

11/25 – we drove past and loved the first house

11/28 – we saw both, and the second house was perfect for us

11/30 – our realtor Paul (who goes to our church and is great at his job!) came over and told us everything that needed to be done to our house, if we wanted to list it–repairs and packing up a ton of stuff into a POD. I start packing like mad.

To be continued…


Iain Turns Twelve!

They’re not lying when they tell you that the days are long, but the years are short. This handsome guy is growing up at the speed of light, and it’s such an honor to be his mom and get a front row seat.

(Iain’s last day as an 11. I don’t know how long they’re going to keep the fingers-and-toes thing going, but I’m rolling with it.)

Iain wanted to go to Sky Zone this year (an indoor trampoline park). As luck would have it, Sky Zone’s birthday is the same day as Iain’s birthday, which means we got a major discount, extra jump time, and fun prizes. The kids had a BLAST. They’d do this every day if they could.

(first day as a TWELVE!)

(I love that picture of the four buddies dueling.)

(Ivy was so determined and fearless when it came to climbing the wall. Seriously, that face!)

The day ended with a cherry pie and Iain’s favorite snacks (root beer and chips), presents, and atomic ball in the backyard. When the guests left, Iain and Jeremy started working on his big Star Wars Lego ship. It was a fantastic day for a fantastic kid.

Happy birthday Iain! We love you and all your zany ways!

September-October, 2018

September was the last slow month of the year. We did school. Iain had his birthday (see next post!). The dishwasher broke (we’re going on six months without it and it hasn’t been bad!). We got guppies and they had babies the next day. So…we had thirty-something fish. Mason was the one who discovered the babies, a fact of which he is very proud.


October…well, we picked up the pace a little. We had people visiting from out of town, school of course, a wedding (I shot back-up photography which was fun), etc.

Iain and Cory wanted me to come up with a lego challenge for them. I told them to build their favorite part of the day. Here’s what they came up with:

Iain (left): the hammock outside, an open book on top, and a glass of ice waiting to be eaten. Cory (right): giving a speech at his class at Timothy on how to fold origami yodas. I love their creativity and a glimpse into their minds.

More random October. Parks, snacks, silliness of various types.


One day (10/16/18) when these two and I went to our favorite hiking spot, Mason started asking me about Jesus. He asked me to pray with him and ask Jesus to take his sins away. After we did, Ivy asked me to pray with her, too. While we talk to them daily about the Gospel and what it means, they brought it up on their own, which shows me they had been thinking about it. As we were leaving, Ivy said, “I don’t have that old, disobeying heart anymore. Because I prayed.” Praise the Lord! Since that day, they have both mentioned several times that they are Christians now. Ivy especially talks about it a lot. We pray all the time that our children would know and follow the Lord– what a sweet answer to prayer.


My mom came to visit, and we went to the skate park. It was practically empty (homeschool win!).

October closed with the Trunk or Treat at church (we had Waldo, a sock-eating washing machine, a pop star, a rock star, and Cinderella). Cory and Mason both won. (Cory wins every year!) And then the wedding in Tennessee to end the month.