Well hello!!!!! It's been a minute but I'm so happy to be back with you today! Before we get into a little catch up session, I'm so excited to share with you that Tuesday was my 10 year blog anniversary, woo hoo!
Almost nothing is the same around here as it was 10 years ago... my style has changed, I don't think there's a spot in this house that looks the same as when I started, the kids have grown... I had no idea what I was doing when I hit "publish" on that first blog post on August 31, 2011 (and often still don't, ha!) but I never would have believed the opportunities and experiences that the Lord has given me through my little corner of the internet over the years. It seems like just yesterday but also a lifetime ago. I checked my archives and this makes 1,168 posts that I've published over the years, some years with more posts than others. That's part of the beauty of this "job" for me, I can hit it hard but also step back and focus on my family or whatever else if the need arises, and then come right back to it. And, I can only do that because of YOU and your continued support by coming back and staying with me through the years.
More than any of the features or recognition or partnerships (like this, this, this, this, and this) that have come my way over the past 10 years, I'm so grateful that I've had the opportunity to connect with each of YOU and make so many wonderful "internet" friends! Some of you have been here since the very beginning and I couldn't be more appreciative of your continued encouragement and support. And, if you've only recently started following along, I'm so thankful that you're here too! My hope for each post is that if nothing else it brings cheer and light to your day, and maybe even teaches you something new or encourages you to try something you've never done before. I hope you gain even a tiny bit of inspiration from each post!
Since I only popped in a few times over the Summer, let me catch you up on what kept me so busy over the past few months. It was definitely a time that my family was my main focus! Get ready to scroll... this is a huge photo load from our Summer! I don't blame you a bit if you want to skim and scroll to the end, but I know some of you are interested in it all so I thought I'd share, and I like having this little "mini scrapbook" on my site just for me, too!
We'll start with Emily's graduation, I don't believe I shared that here. We had a great evening celebrating her with a family gathering before the ceremony at our house. I used some mementos from her growing up and things that represent "her" to decorate the table and made her a cake.
It had been a rainy week and day but everyone thought the forecast was clear for the evening. We were wrong! It POURED during the ceremony, all the poor graduates on the field just sat through it and were totally soaked as you can see as she walked after receiving her diploma. However, she said she had a blast anyway!
Meanwhile, all the families in the stands were doing everything they could to take cover- ha!
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Right at the beginning of the Summer I did a little mini-makeover in Emily's room. Yes, she was about to be headed for college, but I wanted to do something fun for her and she'll still be home plenty of time to enjoy it. She had no idea I was doing it, I gathered things up in previous months and did all of the work while she was gone on a Youth Choir trip. She was so surprised! This is a process shot, I was trying to get an idea of size and scale for some artwork going over her bed. Read on for the tiniest sneak peek, and I'll be sharing the reveal with you in the next few weeks.
Randomly ran in to my friend Emily of Eleven Gables, at Lowe's of all places! (Which shouldn't be a surprise, we're both there frequently during the Spring and Summer!) Always good to see and catch up with this sweet long-time friend.
Our family had schedules that went all different directions this Summer, and we ended up with only a few days available when we were all home at the same time to try to do a quick family vacation. We stayed in Oklahoma and headed to Broken Bow/Beavers Bend for a few days. We rented a boat and spent one day on the lake and enjoyed the area and just hanging out the rest of the time (and cheering the Oklahoma Sooners on to victory in the Women's College World Series!). It was a good few days to rest together and reconnect.
My husband and I traveled to Nashville for the Southern Baptist National Convention (he's a minister so we often attend as messengers from our church). My talented, funny, personable Instagram friend Amy Hannon was one of the speakers during a ladies event and it was good to hug her neck! (Follow her on IG if you don't for a bright spot in your day, practical everyday hospitality tips, and yummy recipe ideas- she wrote a cookbook!) We also enjoyed one day of exploring 12th Street South- Draper James is darling (I picked some gingham playing cards for a little souvenir) and the chocolate sea salt doughnut from Five Daughters Bakery was out of this world! Also loved White's Mercantile on that street.
We celebrated our 27th Anniversary just as we returned from our trip, and since we'd been away from the kids all week we all went out to dinner together to celebrate.
Sadly, while we were in Nashville and the kids were staying at home we lost our little Scout. Here's what I shared on social media if you care to read the details. It's been almost 3 months that he's been gone and I'm not a super emotional person but I still get a lump in my throat when I think about him. He was a good one and we miss him!
"We lost our little Scout last month while we were in Nashville. I've been slow to post about it because I honestly just haven't wanted to write about it. We could tell something wasn't quite right the afternoon that we left, but we asked the kids to keep an extra eye on him through the evening. Early the next morning they could tell he was worse so after talking with them I was on the phone with the vet filling them on the situation so my daughter could just drop him off without having to explain everything. A few hours later after their exam, the vet called me back and said she hadn't seen a cat this sick in a long time and believed that he had Bobcat Fever, which is an often fatal tick borne disease. I know that sounds strange since we live in the city but although rare not unheard of in our area (we have actually seen a bobcat along the creek behind our house in the past). So, in the middle of the Nashville Convention Center I was back and forth on the phone with the vet all morning discussing the illness and treatments that we could try to help him, although she was giving a very grim diagnosis. As we were finalizing a plan for his treatment (that she was only had a small possibility of working), she called back and said that he was continuing to decline and honestly didn't think he would make it through the rest of the day regardless of treatment. It was especially hard to be so far away knowing that our kids were having to help with his care in our absence and not being there with them as we lost our family pet. We adopted him and his brother Chief almost 9 years ago when they were 6 months old. Scout wasn't a "cuddly" cat, but He gravitated towards me and Emily the most and definitely preferred us when he was in the mood for some attention. He was as soft as a bunny and had stripes on his legs that lined up perfectly when he sat up straight, and he LOVED to be outside and hang out back in the trees. He was always so upset when the weather was bad and he had to stay inside, and looked at us like it was our fault that it was raining or the snow was deep and he couldn't go out and play. He was my late night couch buddy when I was finishing up blog posts. We will miss you, Scout, you were one cool cat."
This was Emily's last year to attend youth camp as a high school camper, and I went along and helped cook for the week. The kitchen is a fun- busy!- spot to be during camp!
July 4 is always such fun for our family.
My extended family, and Ray's parents usually join us as well, attend our home town parade and then gather at my parents' house to eat and celebrate.
Caleb had the opportunity to study abroad for a month this Summer, and as he was leaving just a few days after the 4th we had a sweet family prayer time for him while we were all together.
That evening we joined another group of friends that are like family at their home out in the country so the kids could do fireworks. Such fun! (Yes, I'm wearing the same dress in a ton of these photos, it was the perfect Summer dress! From Target but sold out now 🙁)
That was all actually on the 3rd since the 4th was on a Sunday this year, but on the actual Fourth Ray and Caleb joined a friend who runs fireworks shows on the side to help him shoot the show for the town of Stillwater. Much of it is fired electronically but there are still many that they light by hand as well. They had a blast- ha! and it was a fabulous show!
Back to Caleb, he had the opportunity to study abroad for a month in South America during the last half of the Summer. He asked us not to share exactly where he was on social media just out of an abundance of caution to protect the program, but in addition to taking one class while he was there he was able to do an internship of sorts and spend several weeks shadowing nurses and doctors at a local hospital (he's a Nursing student). He worked in the ICU, general admissions, and Emergency Room, and just as we suspected liked the ER best! He went on a few excursions through the month as well- he sent us photos here from the Galapagos Islands, Rainbow Mountain, and Machu Picchu. The students had the amazing opportunity to be immersed in the culture in language, but also took whatever opportunity they could to share the love of Christ, encourage others, and have gospel conversations. It was definitely a life-changing trip for him, rich in culture and experiences. Several of you who are personal friends helped support him as he went, he did not take your investment in him lightly and was a wonderful student ambassador! He had a big welcoming party at the airport when he returned home!
To wrap up the Summer, Emily and I took one more Girls' Trip (with our same friends that we were with earlier in the year and on the 4th!), this time to the beach at Gulf Shores. Both of the girls turned 18 within a few months of each other (her friend while we were there!), so we celebrated that and one of them heading to college and one beginning her Senior year. These two and our families have been friends since they were 3, such a blessing! (Apparently I like these pants too 😂, yes- they're pants! The sizes are limited right now but leave your email and they will notify you when they restock. I sized up because I wasn't sure and didn't want to mess with a return but my normal size probably would have worked too.)
The beach and everything was great, but the absolute highlight of the trip for the girls was totally bumping in to Sadie Robertson Huff and her husband and darling daughter. The girls have admired her for years and the Lord totally just dropped this little encounter in our laps in a random yogurt shop!
Once we returned we were within days of packing up Emily to move to college. I did a social media campaign with At Home and we chose some darling things for her dorm room. I'll be sharing a tour with you next week but it turned out so, so cute!!
We helped Caleb move back to school. He moved up to an apartment on campus with a few other roommates this year. It was more of a drop stuff off, help clean a little, and leave him alone to get settled situation this year... no extra fluffing and setting up a dorm room like his Freshman year!
Then we re-loaded the cars and set out with Emily the very next day. As I mentioned, I'll share more about that next week.
A few weeks in to the school year I was able to slip over to Caleb's school. As a Junior he was officially accepted into the Nursing program this year and the School of Nursing does a "Blessing of the Hands" service where they worship together and the professors pray over the students, then anoint their hands with oil as they prepare to go to be the healing hands and feet of Jesus. It was such a sweet time!
My 49th (!!!) birthday was last week, and the kids were able to come home for a bit the weekend before to celebrate with us. I may or may not have guilted them in to it just a bit for my present- ha!
And, on my actual birthday, Ray and I spent the day driving to Crested Butte CO for a few days. It was our "YAY! We got two kids to college!" and "Kick off to empty nesting!" trip. Friends keep asking how we're doing with both kids being gone and while we miss them being here every day, we're so incredibly happy that they're able to be at school doing what they're doing! And, we obviously still get to see them often so that makes a huge difference knowing they're close.
We really enjoyed the beauty- and cool temps- of Crested Butte. My favorite thing to do on trips is try to find a thrift store, and that's where I prefer to search for a souvenir from the trip. I found this cute little frame in a shop in nearby Gunnison. I'll frame a photo from our trip, probably the one above, and it will be the perfect memento!
Over the next months I have several projects in the works to share with you. Be on the look out for:
*Emily's Room Mini-Makeover
*Emily's Dorm Room Tour
*College Essentials- Dorm and Personal
*Books I've Loved
... and more!
Here's the tiniest sneak peek ever... I'll share more of this one in a few weeks!