Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hey...have I met you somewhere before???

As most of you know, Rich is originally from England. He grew up there until he was 12...and moved to America. His Dad is an "Aquarist" (what a cool title, right???) that we are so proud of... he transfered from the London Zoo to Baltimore Maryland in 1991 to work at the Baltimore Aquarium...then from there helped design and directed the Charleston Aquarium (where I met Rich) for 8 years...and then transferred, again, a few years ago across the continent to San Francisco, CA to help direct the Steinhart Aquarium, part of the Academy of the Sciences in Golden Gate Park... (I am telling you, if you haven't been already--- GO!!! It is one of the coolest attractions I have ever been to... you could spend several DAYS taking it all in!!)... and we LOVE to go visit when we can.

Anyways, that brings me to how far apart we are from his family... We miss them always, pray for them daily, speak to them frequently... but never get to see them enough! It is a long, expensive trip across the country and therefore, we mostly just end up MISSING them all the time! We were thrilled that they were able to fly in the day after Shaelyn Jade was born, to meet her...

...but we haven't seen them since...

(and you can see she's changed a LOT since then!!!)

...UNTIL THIS WEEK! We are so happy that they here... and Shaelyn Jade must have the thought in her little head somewhere, "Have I met you somewhere before???" :)

They brought Emily, Rich's niece, and Hosanna, his little sister this time... which is an added bonus! They have just loved all over Shaelyn Jade...even if she has been a little under the weather! Here are just a few of my favorite memories of this week... so far!

Hosanna, Rich, Grampy, Em and Nanma...

Can't believe how grown up these two girls are this trip...if they lived here they'd be the perfect babysitters!

Have you ever had a sink bath at the Embassy Suites hotel??? WE HAVE!!! Shaelyn Jade had a major poopie all over herself while we were eating there on the first night, so we just helped ourselves to a lovely bath there in the lobby! :) Great memories sometimes come at the most unexpected times and in the most unusual ways!!! :)

It means so much to Rich to have his Dad here getting to know our Shaelyn Jade, and I must say she is really taking a liking to him already!

And last, but not least, Nanma brought an original Paddington Bear and the storybook all the way from his original home, in England (when she visited there earlier this year)! What a perfect new English friend! They'll be sipping tea together in no time!

We are having a great week, and soaking up each minute we have with our family... and praying that maybe, just maybe, we'll be closer someday! :) We love you, Nanma and Grampy...and Hosanna and Em!

These are a few of our favorite things...

Shaelyn Jade has been getting a little bored with me at home these past couple weeks...the few toys I had for her were no longer keeping her interested, and a couple weeks ago, in desperation, I resorted to getting out pots and pans for her to bang on...anything NEW! Not this week, though... we are set and ready to play with all our Christmas gifts!

Her "big" gift from Santa this year is her walker...we were so proud of it until Dr. Brooks told us that the Board of Pediatrics "frowns" upon them as dangerous.... BOOOOOOO!!!! She loves it! :) ...and we love watching her find her legs! Now she's following me everywhere! She was trying to tell you guys all about it when I took her picture!

New blocks I can CHEW on!!!

Matching kicks from Daddy...

Thanks Nonni and Poppi for my new giraffe to ride on! I love him!

...and even bathtime will be more fun with my new water toys!!!

Thank you Santa for spicing up our days a little! :)

Cookies for the Rookie...Santa

I was shopping in downtown Franklin Christmas Eve afternoon and a girl from Naticakes walked outside with a gorgeous tray of FREE freshly baked and fabulously decorated cupckes... so instead of cookies this year, this Santa got a special treat! Don't get used to it, Santa... Mrs. Claus probably won't be whipping up Naticakes every year!

I have wondered my whole life what it would feel like to be Santa...and even though Shaelyn Jade is only 7 months old, and really doesn't know the difference, it was SO FUN staying up late wrapping her gifts...only to wake up a few hours later and unwrap them again ourselves! :) It was another wonderful "first" in life...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Papa Joe & Nana Greta

We have the most wonderful neighbors that live directly across the street from us (next-door to Sonya and Drason)...Joe and Greta Cook have become so much more than just good neighbors to us, and we have all sorta adopted them as our Spring Hill grandparents! This year, we celebrated Christmas together when their daughter, Joelle, and her husband, Glenn, came into town from Napa Valley.

We started with dinner at Pei Wei...

...where Shaelyn Jade tasted her first Lo Mein! :)

Greta loves on Shaelyn Jade every chance she gets...and Shaelyn Jade just loves it!

We spent a wonderful evening walking thru Opryland Hotel with them...

We all especially loved the water show, and it was so sweet to see these two getting mother-daughter time together!

...and Shaelyn Jade even made some new friends!

We love you both, Papa Joe and Nana Greta!

I love Christmas because...

Of Family! To me, part of the "spirit" of Christmas is simply how during these few weeks we make a point to spend time---good, quality time, with people we love so dearly, but do not see enough throughout the rest of the year. This year, we have loved the time we spent with both sides of our family.
Our annual Lankford Family Christmas Party was at my Aunt Laurie's house... where over 100 people (yes... this family is huge... my Dad has 7 brothers and sisters, there are 39 grandkids, and Shaelyn Jade was the 31st great grand child!!!) cram in for a crazy add-a-dish dinner, lots of singing, lots of sharing, lots of gifts... lots of children...and LOTS of love! This family loves Jesus, and it is always so wonderful to hear what He is doing in each family. This year, we had 3 families who were not there because they are missionaries around the world- in China, Mexico, and Africa. It's hard to believe that next year, Joey and Courtney will also be sharing the GOOD NEWS in South Africa.

Part of the group...

We sing lots of songs... probably my favorite part... ( PS-- Gavin brought his new girlfriend, Kara (seen above 2nd from left!!), home to meet the fam this week... she is such a sweet girl, and we had so much fun getting to know her!)

Shaelyn Jade was excited about all the music, too!

The favorite tradition on this side of the family is when ALL of the boys have to stand together and sing "Up On the Housetop"... and grab their bellies during "HO HO HO"... the little kids LOVE to see their dads acting silly!

This may very well be my favorite "moment" of this season... this is my Grampa Wayne, better known as "Buck", and he is so precious to me. He came to see Shaelyn Jade when she was born, and prayed over her in the hospital... and I was so thrilled that he got to see her again and love on her a little bit this Christmas!

My Mom's family usually gathers on Stokes Hill in Dickson, but this year Mom actually had everyone to her house. It was such a fun night, too! We started the night on the front porch as the group sang "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" to each family as they drove up and unloaded.

We played a hilarious game where we had to draw a Christmas scene...but the catch was that the paper was ON OUR HEADS! They turned out looking more like chicken scratch than drawings!

Classic! My grandmother didn't want her paper to mess up her hair, so my Aunt Julie had to hold her paper!!! HA HA HA! Anyone who knows Peggy can appreciate this one!

Sonya and her sweet Livi Drae!

Four generations...

My Uncle Jim and the two newest descendents of the Stokes family!

You'd think that of the whole group these two wouldn't be the ones doing the dishes... but, they insisted! They've been washing dishes together a long time!

I am so thankful that I have two wonderful, large, and loving families to share the joys of Christmas with! These were some of my favorite memories of this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Tori...

I have known my friend, Tori, since the 2nd grade. I literally remember the first day I met her as I walked into First Baptist Church, Franklin's 2nd grade Sunday School class (shout out to Mrs. Butler!), a country girl from Dickson, just so nervous that all these city girls would not like me... but low and behold, I found a friend in Tori... and we have been friends ever since! A few years later, my parents decided to move to Franklin, and it was Tori who first told me of a school called BGA that her sister went to, that she was going to go to...and with her being my closest Franklin friend, it was Tori who kinda led me there... We have so many memories together that warm my heart, make me laugh out loud, make me blush, and make me so THANKFUL for old friends. Tori and I have always kept up, through the years, no matter where either of us are in life...and no matter how long goes by, whether a few hours or a few months since our last conversation, it is always like an old glove that just "fits"... Tori is HILARIOUSLY funny, without trying to be...she has a heart for the less fortunate in life... she loves the Lord and has the most giving spirit... and I am so excited that she married the man of her dreams, Derek, in May and is so happy with him! Tori, I love you. I am so thankful for our memories and so excited about the millions more we will make! I cannot believe you are 28, old lady---- seems like yesterdday we were only 12!!!! Hope your birthday is wonderful! I love you, friend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Celebrating 7 months!!!

Well, folks... today we are celebrating Shaelyn Jade's 7 MONTH BIRTHDAY... and buddy are we ever partying hard around this house!!! :) She and her mama are the lone party-goers, but we are used to that, and we have had a big time nonetheless! This morning we rang in the occassion with a boisterous birthday song, which Shaelyn Jade chimed in on with her only words "BA BA BA"... followed by a short "jig" in her birthday suit!!! Next we donned her very special Christmas dress for this very special occasion...and got our monthly pics! Towards the end, as naptime drew near, she sorta fell apart on me...so I went ahead and gave her a birthday spanking...7 swats for 7 months! HA HA HA..
I cannot believe it has been 7 months already since I first looked into her sweet face and immediately fell in love with her... These have been, hands down, the BEST 7months of my life! I told Rich and Sonya the other night that it sorta seems like my life REALLY started when she was born. I have always wanted to be a mom... and now I am--- to the most perfect, almost-always cheerful, looks just like her daddy, but sure loves her mama :), Shaelyn Jade.
Here's a "rewind" of our last seven months...

I must have missed 5 months somewhere... can't find those pics anywhere! :)


What a happy 7 months it's been with Shaelyn Jade...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Christmas with a little TLC!

Every year we try to do something fun together at TLC Medical, to celebrate Christmas. Some years we have done really elaborate parties for all locations at Mom and Dad's house... one year we all went to Maggiano's in Nashville...Last year we actually decided to put our funds toward helping some of our needy patients and various staff members took part in delivering huge baskets of food and gift cards... and we even did a little paint-your-own-pottery outing with the Customer Service department.
As this Christmas season drew near, my Mom had a wonderful idea of just having a "girls" Christmas party at her house... and it was truly one of the highlights of my year! It is so rare that all of these sweet friends are gathered together at one time... NOT discussing work! Everyone just showed up after work, casually, and Mom and I had spent a wonderful day cooking (our favorite Christmas activity together!)...

And we just sat around and ate...

...and talked...and laughed... and it was MUCH NEEDED for this group who works so hard, day in and day out, to just be able to enjoy each other outside of work!

Hayley and I brought our new little TLC ladies to join the fun...Shealyn Jade just loved her new friend, Kaylie!

Kenya also brought her sweet daughter, Aniyah, and they were the best baby sitters! Kenya pretty much "hogged" Kaylie all night... but what can we say, she loved it!

Our very own Teresa Parr, posing alone! Isn't she just so darn cute??? :)

Proud new mama, Hayley!

Robin is our "unofficial" TLC employee, since she is in our Franklin office so much helping us with our lactation supplies! She is also one of our dearest friends...

Pam is sulking as she is about to give up her much desired scarf during our Dirty Santa game...

Ellie also got a scarf!

And our newest "soon-to-be" Mom, Jenny, caught here FEEDING THAT BABY!!! :) (...and a shout out to Brandy's "gimp" foot in the left corner... wouldn't want to miss that brightly decorated sock!)

We were all SO HAPPY that Brandy was able to make it, even after a recent foot surgery! She took a little longer getting up and down all those stairs... and we may be calling her "hop-along" for a little while... but she was there with lots of Christmas spirit anyways!

Hayley,Brandy, Casey, Nancy, and Debbie with their favorite ornament pick!

...Couldn't help but show this sweet little "bundle" one more time...she must've had too much egg nog! :)

And well, well, well--- look what this dirty little santa DID end up with after all!!!

...And one last group photo with all of our Dirty Santa grabs... see my comfy new PJs???

I think this was our best TLC Christmas party ever! We love our TLC guys, but sometimes a "girls only night" is in order! We are SO THANKFUL for each member of our TLC Medical team...and I was so blessed by a fun night with them!
...And we are looking forward to being with our fabulous East TN group this week, for a Christmas luncheon... so stay tuned for those pics!