Friday, June 8, 2012

They're BACK!!!!!!!!!

So since the middle of last July (PS---almost a whole YEAR for your slow mathematicians like me!) we have been waiting....and waiting....and waiting....
For what you ask? What is worth waiting a whole YEAR for?
We skype. We call. We email. We skype again. But we never get to touch, hug, kiss. And oh how we miss it! Every. Single. Day.
But not these days! Our Joe, Court, Bri, Brax, Bear, and Bris made it home to us again Monday night and there has been LOTS of lovin' going on since the moment they stepped off that plane. Oh the knots in our bellies as we waited at the end of that FOREVER LONG terminal, part of our family--- waiting for the other part as they ran to our arms. These "hellos" we're experiencing since our "dearest and best" have been living away from us will always be at the TOP of my favorite moments on this ole earth, of this I am certain. Oh the first few seconds of feeling Briley in my arms again---my sweet, sweet ray of sunshine who stole my heart the first second I laid eyes on her... of seeing my brother, so proud, walk up that terminal with all of his little family around him---more excited than all those kids put together, I know, to feel our love, too. To get to see Brax look at my Jude and say, "he DOES look like me" watch Bear immediately start wrestling with his cousins like only 2 minutes have passed since their last see Jadey hug her long lost friend, Bristol, who she's finally old enough to appreciate...and to get to hug my FRIEND, my true sister from God, Courtney---for the first time since we said our teary goodbyes in my Mom's driveway. Gosh---has it really been almost 365 "sleeps"---because you just wouldn't know it.
Thank God for His tender mercies in that even this vast distance and time has not separated our hearts. Nope---we are close as ever!

Me, Tiff, Mrs. Susan and Kara waiting anxiously for the first glimpse of our South Africans :)

Cousins! What to do first when you're all back together? Go straight to Non and Pop's and swim til midnight of course! Oh the good it did my heart to capture this moment...these happy hearts just being "together" again!
So- not that I've been a very good blogger lately anyways--but I'm just saying that I will be very busy for the next 6 weeks---soaking up 6 of my favorite people on this earth. Gotta get enough to last us a whole year, ya know?

Oh the fun we're gonna have!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


How did I find Ordinary Hero…? Well- a God thing, for sure. See, for months my sister-in-law had been telling me about “some lady” who was starting “some organization” that she was going to do “some backpack thing” for. She kept saying it was my kind of thing. But I had a 6 month old and a busy life and never checked out the website. But during this time in my life, the Lord was really pulling at my heart- for orphans. I have always had a deep compassion for orphans. When I was 17 I went on my first mission trip to Ukraine and worked in orphanages and it was there that my heart became so burdened for orphans. And now- 10 years later- it seemed everywhere I turned there was something about orphans. I had shared this with my sister-in-law and been praying that God would show me where He wanted me to get involved, but my life, again, seemed “too” busy. So one Wednesday night I was at church and the pastor called a random lady, unprepared I could tell, and her husband, to come down front and give their testimony about what God was doing in their lives. Being caught off guard, her story was short and I honestly do not remember exactly what she shared, but I do remembered feeling a tug at my heart when she spoke. Afterward, on the way home, as I spoke to my husband about her, about her compassion for others and how she was doing something about it, I found myself moved to tears. The very next day, not coincidentally (as is God’s way), my sister-in-law called me again. It had been several weeks since she’d mentioned “that organization” at all, but this day she told me she just felt like God was telling her to call and invite me to a meeting that night about the backpack ministry. I already had plans but I distinctly remember knowing that I needed to go---so I cancelled, and went. And again, not by a coincidence, I found myself less than 24 hours later in the living room of “that woman” whose testimony had touched my heart so much at church that night before. Kelly Putty. A true Ordinary Hero. Long story short (ok…LONG!) it was actually the first ever meeting for this new organization that God was moving about strongly. She shared her story. Her dreams. And said she was planning a trip to Ethiopia. I signed up that night and by July I was THERE, in Ethiopia, with Kelly and the first team of Ordinary Heros. That’s how my story with Ordinary Hero began. I can only say this organization is truly God centered and made of ordinary people, just like me, who just want to be His hands and feet to those in need. So this Saturday, April 28th, I will be taking these “feet” and putting them to pavement for some thirteen miles-to raise money for this wonderful cause. I am excited to be running in the Country Music Marathon on the OH team this year and would ask, if you are so compelled and able, to SPONSOR MY RUN at any amount. 100% of funds raised go directly to children in need. Check out the OH website to find out more about all of the wonderful things they are doing…and then go to my personal webpage to sponsor me. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL---how about $1 for every mile I will run…only $13?! And say a prayer for me if you remember on Saturday morning---13 miles is a long way when you’re running! Thank you, in advance, for being and Ordinary Hero!!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


We had a wonderful Easter weekend celebrating our RISEN SAVIOR!! I've had an old tune on my heart that I think I have known since I was born...:)

I serve a RISEN Savior
He's in the world today
I know that He is LIVING
Whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy
I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him
He's always near

Christ Jesus LIVES today
He walks with me and talk with me
Along life's narrow way
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He LIVES?
He LIVES within my heart!

I love that song. Such a sweet reminder that He did die, but more importantly that He AROSE so that He can live in my heart...and yours! I cannot imagine my life without Jesus...

To celebrate this joyous occasion, we did all kinds of things and had more FUN ourselves watching Easter through the eyes of our children. All of it. Jesus. The Resurrection story we read. Dyeing eggs. Egg hunts. Seeing the Easter bunny. We celebrated in so many ways...

So here are some pics, captured "moments" to always remind me of this Easter and how ALIVE I am able to feel, because HE IS ALIVE!

We started our festivities at the zoo last week with Ash and Cash...Jadey's favorite animals at the zoo are on the carousel! :) She, of course, picked a rabbit this week!

Next stop was our first egg hunt of the season at my sweet friend (from high school!) Chrisie's blessed that we are raising girls together, now! Here Abby and Jadeybug are counting their candy eggs!
The sweetest faces in the world to me...
I had so much fun dyeing eggs for the first time with Shaelyn Jade. This is a tradition we did every single year of my life so I wanted to continue it with her...and she loved it too! It was fun to have Rich's fam in on it for their first time too!
Bedtime on Easter Eve, proud as a peach of her new PJ's Non and Pop got her for Easter! She wanted to be sure the Easter bunny knew she LOVES rabbits so she collected every rabbit in the house to sleep with her... but then made sure I understood NOT to let him come in her room! :) Little unsure of the ole guy, still... :)
We usually have Easter lunch at the Watson's house with large and crazy crew of egg hunters. Check out those two Lankford boys in their bowties...SPIFFY! Cy man was PROUD! And the Calmus clan proved to be, as you might have expected, fierce competitors on the green! :)
My favorite Easter picture this two favorite guys looking rather dapper, I must say...and it was like Jude knew right when to squeal with delight at his FIRST easter egg find as I snapped the picture! :) My toothless little "wabbit"....
Our best Easter treat this year was having Emily come in from San Francisco to spend her Spring Break with us. It seems like YESTERDAY she was only a tad bigger than Jadey is now and I was helping her. She is such a sweet cousin to her "mini me"...
And oh how THANKFUL we are, this Easter, that these two precious souls are here with us! Hadley Katelyn is the sweetest little girl that I am really starting to fall for and amazed that she was perfectly MADE for our family...she even LOOKS like her Daddy! And as if I didn't love Hosanna from the first second I laid eyes on her little 9 year old face (now almost 7 years ago!!!)...I am over the moon that I get to "hang" with her lots these days. She is a blessing to know- a resilient and "wise-beyond-her-years" gal that never ceases to amaze me by her strength and beautiful smile. I am so excited that my kids will be close to her, too- we love us some Hosanna around here!

Friday, April 6, 2012

What's Missing?

So here's our handsome little man this morning...

...the "morning after"!
Here he is a little closer-

Anyone see anything missing?
How about...


That's right, folks! We lost our first tooth in the Andrew's house last night--- and not exactly in the ideal "fall out in an apple when you're 6" fashion. about not-quite-11-months?! Little brother bear took a tumble from his dinner chair onto the dinner table last night...and that big ole tooth literally FELL out onto the floor! Lots of blood but just a few tears thankfully...and a rather quick and painless trip to Vandy to make sure all else remains in tact.
Reminded us all of another very special little lady that spent nearly her first decade without two teeth after an early fall like this one...

(Briley holding jude when she came home to visit last summer...see how pretty those teeth came back in???)
We're sure gonna miss that cute little tooth, but oh so thankful because like one of my favorite children's books reminds me: "COULD BE WORSE!"

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


So we have this little piece of land that we have been dreaming about for several years now...dreaming of someday raising our kiddos on it with all the trees watching them grow. There is a perfect little creek that runs right on the front side of it, a beautiful hill on the backside that grows green, green grass in the spring and backs up to someone else's country little barn and lake...complete with an old horse that's probably been there for years. We can see him from our treehouse. We bought the land before there was a Shaelyn Jade or a Jude in the world, but honestly, we knew that someday they would run its hills and wade its waters and climb its trees. I remember when we bought it, we walked through the trees and said that "someday" we'd build a cool treehouse on it. Before the treehouse, Rich and I would drive his truck out there and lay in the back with pillows and blankets and look at the stars...and dream our dreams. Then a Jadeybug was born...

...and even though she was too young to enjoy a treehouse yet, her Daddy knew that "someday" was coming quick, so he built our treehouse for her first birthday. Lots of love hammered into it he says. And it is cool. So we started going there, to our treehouse- our family of 3, and laying down blankets and pillows and looking up through the tall, tall trees that have been there hundreds of years longer than the old horse...and dreaming more dreams together. Of living there on that land. Of more children, a house, a dog...maybe even a horse of our own. And then there was a Judeboy...

(driving that same ole truck)
... And a family of 4. And more love than I have ever even dreamed. And "someday" is here. And we have this land, this treehouse, these children...and more dreams. So we spent another dreamy day there Saturday, our family of 4...doing the things we are doing on these "somedays" lately...


Pulling up like a big boy...

Making music (this crew loves a good sing along!)...

Soaking up every minute we can get with Daddy...

And I told Rich as I sat atop those trees in my little house that I have to be the happiest girl in the world. God has blessed me beyond my WILDEST DREAMS- with these two little people...

...And this handsome man...

And someday, I hope we can spend every day right there in the middle of those green fields, but until then...our dream days in the treehouse are enough.

"Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue...And the dreams that you dare to dream REALLY DO come true!"


Friday, January 27, 2012

2012 so far...

Well here I am already at the end of January and can't figure out where it's gone...must have been busy. Yes. Very busy. Between Rich's parents moving here, his birthday, and the 4 teeth growing in Jude boy's mouth that keep us all up at night...I have simply lost a few weeks in time! But it has been good. All good. We are so excited that Rich's Mum and Dad and little sis, Hosanna, arrived safely with no troubles at all on their 3000 mile journey. They arrived one day early on Rich's actual birthday- such a nice surprise, and we celebrated him and them with cake and ice cream in their empty house. Now it is already full of all their things and already "smells" like their home, I realized today...which made me smile. As I have mentioned before, their homes are always so "homey" I hope mine is. Hosanna starts school on Monday- 8th grade, which I know is both daunting and exciting for her...say a prayer for her if you think of it Monday morning. She is working over and over again on the "perfect outfit" to wear...big decisions, indeed! And I am so happy to have her here---to get to know her better, for real...and love on her. So fun to have a "teen" around to keep us in the swing of things. And Shae Jade just adores her. Hosanna "this" and Hosanna "that" all day long, now...and when she first gets around her, she is shy. So cute. Just tonight after we had dinner with them and Sweet Cece's we said our goodbyes and it was weird- us AND them both going to our homes here in lil' ole Spring Hill. Just crazy how it all happened so fast---we have prayed for them to be closer for so long...and it seems like all of a sudden, they are HERE. We are excited for all of you to get to know them...they are as GREAT as Rich!!!! :) :)

A few of our favorite moments from these first few weeks of 2012...

My BFF, Kathryne, and her hubby Jon and baby Charlotte came over for dinner one night and look who we found holding hands!!!! :) Charlotte is our pick for Jude's marriage arrangement someday...

Jude boy hammin' it up for Kathryne...

And Jadeybug feels like such a big girl around all these "babies"...made sure she got some good Charlotte snuggles that night!

Rich's best buds all showed up to surprise him at Cheesecake Factory...

These three pics are in order--- Rocky sneakily sharing a plan with Drason...

Me getting my pic of the handsome birthday boy... Say "Cheese...CAKE!"

Plan carried out. Nice Rocky.

My real gift for Rich was his first good night's sleep in about a I took him a schnazzy room with a big, comfy bed...and honestly---a solid night of sleep is weird when it's been that long! WEIRDLY WONDERFUL!!!! :)

Our view from the top floor of the Renaissance Hotel...not something you see every day!

And while the cat's away...these little mice played at Nonni's! This was my first night away from my little man and I felt so good knowing he was with my Mom...Thanks Non for making Rich's birthday surprise happen!

This was Rich eating his real birthday cake the he made a wish on once his parents their NEW HOUSE! :)

And as Rich said, this was is BEST birthday gift...his Dad, HOME AT LAST, in TENNESSEE!!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Highlights from the end of 2011

Instead of a post about a list of resolutions that should have (but actually do not) this year...I wanted to end my 2011 blogs with a post about how we ended it! Here are some of our highlights...

This was, perhaps, the BEST gift of 2012...seeing sweet Tiff with her baby girl at last. This little lady was long awaited and SO, SO loved!!

Here is our crazy crew after our long plane rides across America...but we made it to San Francisco!

On one of those long plane rides, Jadey girl had some fun "holding" her little brother and helping him look out the window. Let's just say he was less than thrilled... :)

The city of San Francisco is so huge! Here seen from the Golden Gate bridge...

Alcatraz also from the bridge...

We had never walked across the bridge on any of our visits before, so we did it this last time!

We also took our favorite hike up in the moutains behind Nanma and Grampy's is quite exhausting on those steep hills, but the view makes it all worth while!

My Christmas girl in her homeade reindeer shirt from school that she was so proud of...and her Christmas hairbows. I hope I never forget how she looked this day!!!

Snuggle bugs that slept most of the nights with us in Emily's bed (thanks for giving us your room, Em!!!)

Grampy and Jude had fun getting to know each other better...Jude loved all of his animals!

And Daddy and Jude boy also spent lots of time nice having Daddy with us every day all day long!!!

Jude had to get ear tubes early the next morning after we arrived home from Cali...he was a sleepy boy as he waited for them to come get him!

And we spent New Year's Eve with some of our fave friends having a slumber party with all of our new baby "Boys Of Summer" (Bayo wasn't here yet when this pic was snapped!). The attire for our party was undecided- whether fancy or Jude did both- bowtie with pjs...Cash was dressed to party!!!

At midnight, we cooked a big breakfast to kick off the new are the chefs!

And here are the non-chefs...sleepy boys awaiting their meal! (PS...Bayo tried to hang, and outlasted the others...but finally crashed right there in the middle of the action!)

Finally feasting...we hope to make this a New Year's tradition!

And last, but CERTAINLY not and my man ringing in 2012 the right way! They say whatever you're doing at midnight you will do all year, right???? :)

Certainly the best New Year's Eve yet...a wonderful end to a wonderful year. We are so THANKFUL to God for all of the many blessings he bestowed on us in 2011 and look forward to seeking Him even more in 2012! That is our only resolution. What a MIGHTY GOD we serve!