Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in Cali...

This year I surprised even myself when Rich asked me about spending Christmas away from home....and I agreed. You see, I have always sworn I would keep my kids at our house for Christmas morning. We woke up at our own house every Christmas morning of my life, and I liked it that way. But this year has been a bit different for our family- the Andrews clan, I mean. God has been "a' movin'" and it's been pretty amazing to watch Him. And with all of the changes, we are THRILLED that Rich's parents and little sis, Hosanna, will be o-fficial Tennesseans as of January. So this year, we wanted to be here, in San Francisco, one last time with them. Plus, our kids won't really ever remember this Christmas away from home! So me and my crazy husband who loves to travel just about as much as I do packed up our two children 2 and under :) and made the 2 plane, 3000 mile trek across the US last Thursday. We made it just in time for a couple of crazy last minute shopping days right here in the heart of San Francisco (quite the experience!) and then such a wonderful, different, peaceful Christmas day. It was truly my favorite Christmas yet, I think. Anyone who has met my in-laws know that they really are super-duper people...but there is no way to explain JUST HOW super duper!!! Super kind, super giving, super loving...and no matter where they move on this earth, their houses are ALWAYS so home-y! I love that about them. Anyways, we have had a wonderful week...and today we decided we better make that long walk across the Golden Gate bridge if we're ever we did it...just to do it! It was loud and windy...but oh so beautiful! Vast mountains and water on one side, vast city and buildings on the other. Lots of people and bikers doing the same. And as we were almost across, I realized I am living my own dream. If the lonely girl I was 10 years ago could have seen a snapshot of today---I would have known then, as I certainly do now, that my wildest dreams WOULD come true. I have a wonderful husband, a super duper extended family, two beautiful children (who fell FAST asleep during the walk across)...and God's amazing creation to look at...all on a random December 27, 2011. Wow. I love thoughts like that.

So a few snapshots for you can share my dreams. Please pray for my sweet, sweet Andrews family. Like I said- God, He is a' movin'! :)

These rare snuggles with Nanma are about to be a common treat in Tennessee!!

My sweet little lady getting excited for Santa!

The grand Golden Gate bridge is truly an awe-inspiring structure!

Andrews pre-bridge...all eager for the hike ahead!

Andrews post-bridge...two peaceful sleepers, two aching backs...but 4 happy hearts still!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

She's BACK!!!!!

Well it has been a LONG break from the blog world...but I am happy to be BACK! I have had such a wonderful few months, finally feeling totally settled into my life with 2 little souls to look after. There is much to catch up on so that my days are not forgotten, but rather recorded here...but for now, I will start with one picture of the person who has MOST changed since my last post.

I love this face. He is the happiest little boy all the time. He loves his mama and his daddy but he LOVES his sissy! He keeps his eye on her at all times and lights up when she even looks his way. It has been the sweetest part of my day every day to watch this sweet relationship grow between my children.

Shaelyn Jade is such a good big sister- always wanting to help me with "Judey-boy"...and I am loving watching them take in the wonders of this Christmas season together!

I am back to blogging! See you soon...


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Sis!!!

Do you remember when I posted THIS BLOG...or how about THIS GIRL (keep reading to the bottom)???

Well, if you can believe it, folks...she IS "the one"...for my sweet brother, Gavin. This past weekend we were in on a BIG SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT for Kara. We drove to her hometown Thursday night and stayed at her parents' house. Talk about hospitable...her Mom and Dad are such sweet people---can't BELIEVE we're getting more good family! My mom and I have always been so amazed that God has given us TWO amazing girls already (Court and Tiff)...and their sweet families are like family to us, too...and now, Kara. God is good.

Anyways, we spent all day Friday getting ready (and taking Jude to an unexpected doctor visit there since he woke up with a fever/ear infection that morning...of course!) for the big night! Kara was CLUELESS...which is, apparently, hard to achieve. She thought she was just driving home after her classes Friday to go to the local high school football game (it is THE thing to do on a Friday night in Greeneville, TN!). So, she and Gavin and her parents went to dinner, as usual...and then the game. Gavin told Kara that day that he'd lost his phone somewhere that day while "riding horses on her parent's farm". So that night, after the game, he casually asked her to ride back where he'd been that day on a four-wheeler to look. Now I kinda need to give you the picture of where he took her. It is out in the middle of it was pitch black. There is the cutest little cabin back there on this rugged land...up on a hill...with a beautiful little pond just at the base of the hill. And right there on the bank of the pond sits this old, wooden swing. Just alone. Nothing special. Until Friday night. :) On Friday night, it became the site of a special engagement. We'd wrapped it in a million lights that day...

...but you couldn't see them in that darkness. We'd run extention cords from up the hill where the cabin is, and since there is NO ELECTRICITY out there, we even had a generator running (but far enough away that you couldn't really hear it). I'd planted Gav's phone right there by the swing where he could just flip the red switch on the power strip and the swing would light up the night like a Christmas tree! So Gav and Kara are there riding in the dark calling and calling this phone hoping to see it light up...and as they crest that hill he tells her to call it again...and she does...and they see it light up, way off, down by the swing. And one other sweet addition: Gavin joked with Kara when they first started dating that if he ever took her "fishing in the dark" then it was serious business...and he'd end up marrying her! Soooo....there on that swing, with all those lights...and hundreds of rose petals scattered beneath it...and 24 perfect pink roses (tied in a Tiffany-blue ribbon!) layed on the seat----he had her fishing pole leaning over it all with THE RING tied to the end....

...AND----when he knelt to turn on the lights, he also turned on the song "You and Me Going Fishing In the Dark"....such a sweet, sweet idea!!!!! say the least...SHE SAID YES!!!! (Wouldn't you have???)...and my brother, Gavin- the hopeless romantic that he is (ha!) will marry the perfect mate that God created just for him...on June 16, 2012! I am so thankful for another wonderful sister I will get out of this deal, and excited for the rest of our lives to make memories together!
Now the second best part of this story is the second surprise! Kara and Gav rode back to her house where her mother was, of course, waiting in tears! They did the normal hooplah and then, again casually, suggested she go down the road and tell her Aunt Barbara the big news! So...they hopped in the car, drove to Barbara's, and unbeknownst to a HUGE SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT PARTY where her closest friends and family were gathered! It was so sweet! I was so thankful to be a part!

Isn't LOVE grand?????

I know most peeps aren't into posting comments...but if you would take a second and do it---tell me about YOUR engagement! I'll give you the details of mine later...when I finish my love story I started last month! (PS- sorry for the long blogging sabbatical...been busy, but gonna get back to it now!!!)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 5

So...I at least STARTED strong, right? Got to having so much fun that blogging had to take a back seat until now that I am home, but wanted to post the rest of our sweet pics from last week...the most wonderful week in Charleston!

Started our day with a fun!

Had so much fun the night before that we decided to spend this whole day just hanging at the pool there in the nice with the little kiddy pool!

Brother and Dad...

One of my favorite pics of this sweet boy yet!

And we spent another evening in downtown Charleston- ate dinner at the Irish Pub that I worked at when I lived there, Tommy Condon's...and where we ate dinner with all our friends/fam the night we got engaged!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Does anyone know what time it is???

"Does anyone know what time it is?"...

That was the question that changed my life. Literally. I was waiting in the hallway outside of my new french class, along with everyone else, for the teacher to get there. It was January. I had just returned from spending 3 weeks at home for Christmas and was back in Charleston for another semester at Trident Tech, a local community college. The plan was to continue going to school, making good grades, and after a year of being in Charleston I could apply for in-state tuition and transfer to the College of Charleston. But for now, it was Trident Tech, and I was taking French because I'd taken it 3 years in high school and knew it would be an easy "A". And I was lonely. I'd met a handful of friends the semester before, and I loved living in Charleston, but after spending a wonderful Christmas with all my friends and family...I was lonely. I was always pretty friendly in all my classes- seemed to make new friends easy enough, and especially now that I was so far from home, I depended on my classes to meet new people. Pretty much all of the people I hung out with the semester before I'd either met at school or at Pier One where I on the first day I was always looking for a new friend or two.

...But back to the hallway. I was leaned against the wall and it was rather quiet, you know- everyone waiting on the teacher, no one really wanting to talk...maybe a little awkward, even. Then, breaking the silence, a guy directly across the hall, facing me, asked (no one in particular), "Does anyone know what time it is?" I looked up, he and I made eye contact (simply because we were across from each other) and I shook my head. He was tall. VERY tall. He had long, curly dark hair. Dark eyes. Earrings in his ear. Smelled stongly like cigarette smoke. And wore a long (no trench coat-but very big) black, leather coat. His name was Richard Andrews. And at first sight, he was not someone who would have ever caught my eye. He looked kinda "dark". I thought nothing of it, but a couple minutes later he walked across the hall, squatted down right beside me, and opened a very thick book and "pretended" (I was certain) to be reading. Ugh. I would've rolled my eyes if no one would have noticed. That's what I wanted to do. I was a little jaded at the time because a boy I'd really liked (who apparently didn't have the same feelings :)) had sorta broken my heart just before Christmas break...and I just wasn't looking for the "real deal" that all. And this guy, whoever he was, who was pretending to be smarter than he was (because who, really, could EVER read a book that thick, by Des Cartes, no less!!!) and tried to catch MY eye (how conceited I was!) by squatting beside me...ugh. Ugh was all I could've said, if I'd said something. But, thank goodness, I didn't. :) On the other hand, he'd been the only person who'd started any sort of conversation (and he seemed nice, albeit dark :))---and I was, after all, looking for a new friend in this new when the teacher got there and opened the door, if I remember correctly, I think I kinda hoped we'd sit near each other. And we did. He was a back row kind of guy...I was a back row kind of girl. He sat in the very back left seat. One girl filed in, in front of me, and sat directly beside him. Oh, poor girl...if she'd only known she was gonna be stuck between US! And then I sat on the other side of her.
That was the beginning. Of the beginning. That was 8 1/2 years ago now. Hard to believe. That dark guy is now my husband- one of the brightest people I know who, for sure, lights up my life! :) Funny how ironic life can be sometimes. And I still wonder- if, before he "popped the question" (the time question, I mean)...the angels were smiling and waiting...

It's been the BEST week...the best vacation I have ever had. Just being back here, where it all started, we keep looking at each other and sayinf, "Can you believe we have a family???" We have had so much fun just being parents together, with no one else around. Just us. In "our" town. We've told every person we can our little we met here...and how we're back on our 5 year anniversary to celebrate. We've gotten lots of "Oh how sweet!" and "Congratulations!" and "What a great love story" comments from locals. And we've remembered so many almost forgotten memories that sights and smells and songs have brought back to our mind's eyes. There is much, much more to that first day of french class...for another night when I am less sun burned and less sleepy!

Until then...some of our favorite moments from yesterday and today...

Waterfront Park: I love that you can play in the fountains here!!!

Jadey made several friends with her baby doll, Dee Dee (named after you, Aunt Dee!:))

Lovin' on brother...he layed on his back and cooed all day...

Another fabulous fountain she could actually swim in :)

And another friend...

A yummy sushi dinner...lovin' the fresh fish here!

We hit the Towne Center in Mt. Pleasant last night...TCBY and Barnes & Noble!

Another fab breakfast at our B&B this AM...

Then we hit the beach...

...all day long...

...until they both crashed!

Tonight we went to our pool and Jude got in the water for the first time!

He loved it!!

We played in the water and had so much fun...

...& Jade had her first experience w/ goggles(we laughed and laughed at this pic!!!)

...and then they both crashed...again!


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 2

Another fabulous day that started with a scrumptuous (and complimentary, might I add!) Sunday brunch at our restaurant downstairs, Jacob's Kitchen. It was seriously PACKED, not to my surprise, since I really think they are hiding Food Network chefs in there!

Next we drove around a bit...down memory lane...and went to see Rich's old house...

854 Law Lane! :)

Then we spent the next two hours trying to get to the beach...we laughed at ourselves (and high-fived!) after we finally sat down in our beach chairs about how long it takes to get ready to do anything with two kids! Especially on our first beach trip with just us- we had to buy chairs, an umbrella, sand castle know, everything you need at the beach, we needed! But oh, so worth it to see... happy heart...

...and one happy face! :)

And tonight was so fun. Dinner at an Irish Pub right across from...

...our B & B! Isn't it perfect?

Two snoozers during the meal- beach wore them out! Made for a nice, quiet dinner though... :)

And then we drove into the city for ice cream and swinging on the Pier. Jadey loved it!

A thunderstorm came up while we swung and the most beautiful lightning ever flashed across the if God was putting on a show just for us...

...just for our little family of 4!!!

Too tired for love stories excited for another day here in one of my favorite towns with my three favorite peeps!

Room #6

So we drove, drove, drove as far as we could last night...made it to Augusta, GA where we finally laid our heads on pillows at a Holiday Inn at 2 am. My favorite thing about hotel rooms is that you can close the curtains and the room stays PITCH BLACK until whenever you want to wake up...which helped our kiddos sleep a little later today, thank goodness. Anyways we loaded back up and finished our roadtrip to the soundtrack I made Rich the first summer after we met when I had moved home and he was still living in Charleston. Crazy how songs bring back emotions...and as we got closer and closer to the big C-town, we started remembering all the things we used to do, the feelings...the very beginning...of us. All 4 of us. :)

...coming into the city and seeing the bridge finished for the first time...

I asked him if, when he got that CD in the mail from me- a girl he really didn't know that well yet- if he thought it was "just another girl"...or if he felt different about me even that early on??? See, I never really dated anyone before Rich. He dated about, um...100 girls. :) But you know what?...he said he did feel different. Not in love, certainly, but different. He said that with all of his other girlfriends, he didn't really care about their feelings, but with me, from the very beginning, he felt "responsible" for my feelings. That was so honest and so intresting to me that it wasn't an emotion that he felt differently, but a "responsibility". And why am I BLOGGING about all this??? Because just like I told him today- I think we have a really sweet love story that I have never written down. And I want to. I want our kids to hear our love story and know that God destined us to be together. You see, it is no small incident that tonight me and this "boy" from my college french class are sidled up next to each other on a bed- me tick-tacking away on these keys and him- giving his thumbs a super work out with "Angry Birds" we've been together our whole lives. No small thing at all! He was born in ENGLAND. Me, America. He grew up in Baltimore, MD. I grew up in Dickson County. :) I was raised on a church pew...he never darkened the doors of a church- a self professed atheist, in fact, when I met him. From two entirely different paths, the most unlikely pair finally "stumbled" upon each other in the hallway of a community college here in Charleston. I have wondered many times what the conversation in heaven must have been like that day as he and I woke up, ate breakfast, got ready, drove to school...did all the things we'd always done every day of our lives...but THIS day, this day was to be the day we'd finally meet. The paths would finally cross. I like to think the angels watched with anticipation as I parked my car and walked toward that building, nervous for my first day of french class. "Gabriel, it's about to happen!!!...she's finally gonna meet the guy she's been praying for since she was a little girl...and she doesn't even know it!!!!" As Rich's mom let him out a few blocks away (so no one would know he wasn't able to drive) and he walked and smoked a cigarette (yes, indeed, folks...I married a one-time LOVER of the cigs), I wonder if they said, "Look! He doesn't have a clue that he's about to meet a girl in a few minutes that's going to help him finally find some peace...he's been running from God his whole life- and right now he's walking directly TOWARD Him!!!" I just wonder, often, if the angels really do rejoice in moments like ours, where two people come together to accomplish His purposes...where futures start changing and the world becomes even just a little bit better- just because two people meet...and fall in love. I wonder...

Anyways, more of that story later...but for now- we are HERE. We are in Room #6

of the I'ON Bed & Breakfast...

...super plush room with comfy southern charm...

...and can I just say the restaurant downstairs is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!? Rich and I split both our entrees tonight- Goat Cheese Ravioli and Pan Seared Scallops over a bed of perfectly steamed spinach...and Kobe Beef Sliders! Seriously gourmet...and don't know if we're gonna be able to handle Sunday brunch in the morning!!!

I surprised Jade by packing a bunch of her babies and toys and wouldn't you know that there was the perfect little closet in our room that I went in and set up for her...when I told her to go in and look she literally squealed with delight and danced a jig! So cute!

She's loved the big bathtub with the detachable shower nozzle (we don't have one of those at home :)...

...and she was so cute at bedtime laying her dolls out to sleep with her in her OWN big bed...

And Jude...well, tonight we finally got them both laid down to sleep (or so we thought) and were going to take advantage of the huge bathtub (seriously the longest tub I have ever seen- like it was made for Rich!!!) know, soak up a few relaxing moments...but just before we got our pinky toes in that warm water, our little guy let out his own squeals and was not going to calm down until he was right with us! Yes, it turned into a bubble bath for THREE! :) Funny how life changes with babies...but always for the better! He kicked and cooed and talked to us until we were all prunes---we LOVE us some Jude Warren! :)

Tommorrow we will go to that beach I mentioned before...the one where my sweetheart gave me the ring on my left hand. Now that was another good day, too...