i’m baaaaaaaacccccckkkkkkk.

In my most excited voice, I say “I’m bbbbaaaaaaaaaccckkkk.”

After 8ish months away from blogging, I’m ready to come back to it.  I never intended to stop blogging.  If I had planned to, I would have posted a farewell.  And I’ve wanted to write and start back for quite awhile.  But the reason for this big time gap is life.  Man, we’ve been busy.  Lots and lots of life happening around here.  And it’s wonderful.  It’s so nice to have a full house — one that’s full of life — after having had an empty house, a sad house.  I’m assuming that most of you know what I’m talking about, although that assumption may not be correct. 

This time last year Tommy and I started the process of becoming a foster family.  We started attended training classes in July, through August.  Then we began our home study.  After several weeks of visits and interviews, we finally received our home study write up.  Then we were approved as a foster family in November.  It’s been non-stop since then.  We started getting calls for placements the very next day after finding out we were approved.  About 2 weeks later we took in our first placement — a teenage girl.  She was only here for a short while until they found another home better suited for her needs.  Then right after she left we got our little girl (still with us!).  A month after that we got a newborn.  We brought him home from the NICU when he was still weighing 4 pounds!!  He was tiny and precious.  He stayed with us for 4 months and then he went to family.  We have another baby in our home now who is so sweet!  We are really thrilled to have 2 girls here with Jack! 

Things are going well.  Right now we are tired.  Tommy has been working a lot, and I’ve not been sleeping a lot.  But everyone is doing great.  Considering all that baby girl has been through, she is doing remarkably well!  I could write a hundred blog posts on foster care.  And I just might one day.  I’m limited right now by confidentiality agreements, but additionally, I want to protect the hearts, the stories, and the people behind them.  My kids have been through a lot.  All of my kids have.  Jack has lost a brother and adjusted to being a big brother to kids who have high needs.  He’s also done amazing at saying hello and goodbye to new brothers and sisters.  He’s the best.  It goes without saying that our 2 foster daughters have been through a lot in their lifetimes.  I’m not equipped to help our children, but I pray every day God will help me.  The responsibility of parenting this tribe is not lost on me. 

That’s a quick little catch up on our life.  I have missed you all.  I’ve missed this community, and communicating with friends here.  I’m looking forward to being back and writing again — as often as I can. 

Happy Monday and I hope your week gets off to a good start! 

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summer break and just going with it.

It is summer, and we are having a lot of fun.  We’ve been crossing things off our list and just going with the flow that summer naturally brings with it.  It’s been kind of wonderful.  For some reason I have always fought the easy-going spirit of summer.  Perhaps it’s in my personality.  I never found it very good to just sit and read instead of doing something that could accomplish things.  I never understood the fun in neglecting daily responsibilities to go explore something.  I’m sure some of you must find this so tightly wound and ridiculous.  It’s just how I am.  I prefer the structure of days and the schedule of things.  Spontaneously exploring a new area or just taking an afternoon off to read is so foreign to me.  But being a mom is changing me.  In so many ways — including this.

Summer 2014 rocking chairs

 

For the first time I am appreciating the slowness of summer.  The permission for a break.  The allowance of taking it slow.  It’s fantastic!  It’s like we’re given this season where responsibilities can be delayed or set aside for a few hours or few days and why wouldn’t I want to take advantage of that.  So this summer I am spending a little bit more time being open to those things.  Being open to taking the long way home.  Being open to jumping out of the car to explore somewhere we haven’t before.  Being open to sitting on my front porch and reading instead of heading to my laptop to be in the inter webs world.

Summer 2014 reading

 

That explains my absence lately and will explain my scarcity for the rest of the summer.  I have many things I want to share — recipes, weight loss, nutrition information, Jack, Gabriel, home life, other blogs — so much that I want to jump on here and share with you.  But each time I do it takes time away from my boys and time away from our freedom to take it easy this summer.  So I’m not saying that I won’t be blogging this summer, and I’m not saying that I will be.  How amazingly ambiguous, right?  But after spending several weeks stressing out over whether I will continue blogging this summer or whether I will take a break, I realized the stress was unnecessary and I would just allow myself the permission to be here as little as I want to be.

Summer 2014 fun

 

I think the break will be refreshing for me, and I hope it will allow me to come back as a stronger writer and blogger in the fall.  It also frees up some time and brain space to think through other areas like Project Gabriel.  And most importantly to focus on Tommy and Jack and our home.

Summer 2014

I wanted to share my thoughts with you and wish you a relaxing and easy going summer as well!  Here’s to taking advantage of enjoying the long days of summer.

making the most of summer.

It is summer.  School is out.  The air is heavy and warm.  Fireflies are starting to light our yard.  It stays light until late in the day and the sun is up early to greet us.  It is summer.

 

I am not a summer person.  In fact, out of the 4 seasons, it ranks in 4th place — and that’s only because there isn’t a 5th season.  Spring and fall are beautiful in East Tennessee.  It is hard to beat those seasons in this gorgeous part of the country.  I’ve always liked winter as well.  I love snow, I like bundling up and all things cold and associated with it make me happy and snuggly.  I hate being hot.  I hate sweating — which I do a lot of.  I don’t tend to tan, I usually burn.  Mosquitos eat me like I eat chocolate cake.  Summer is just not my season.

 

But it’s funny how having kids really does change everything.  Jack is changing how I feel about summer.  Over the past several years I have realized what a precious time this season is with my boy, and I’m kind of starting to love it.  I’m not a natural at this summer thing, and I’m not a naturally fun person so having a fun, intentional, and adventurous summer is out of my comfort zone and a stretch for me.  But I’m going to do it.  You see, I realized the other day that I only get 18 of these summers with my boy, Lord willing.  And I’m coming up on my 4th summer with him.  How is that even possible??  This realization made me catch my breath and hold back tears a little bit as I thought about how quickly time is passing.  I don’t want summer days with Jack to be wasted.  I want to teach him valuable skills, I want to show him amazing things, I want him to have a spirit for adventure, and I want him to look forward to an exciting time of year where our family shifts our focus into fun and adventure for a season.

summer park picnic

summer fun

 

In order for me to do that I have to set some goals + make some lists [because even if I am going to be adventurous, let’s face it — I’m still type A and need a good list to be adventurous 🙂 ].  So we have made up a family summer adventure list with the goal of crossing each thing off the list.  The first week of summer for us was last week, and it went really well.  I watched my friend’s son while she took care of her other son who was sick.  So we got to have some fun adventures with Jack’s buddy, too.  They had Icees and a picnic at the park to start the week.  Then the next day a Chick-fil-A picnic in Nan and Pops incredible back yard.  Jack has run errands with me and spent time outside blowing bubbles.  The first week of summer was a success!

 

Here is our list:

 

Family Summer Adventure List 2014

1. Get Icees and go swing at Bluegrass

2. Picnic at the park

3. Play in the sprinklers

4. Picnics at Nan and Pops

5. Play out in the backyard at Nan and Pops house

6. 69 cent Icees over and over

7. Anni-Jack-a-birthday week to kick off summer!

8. Celebrate Jack’s 3rd birthday!

9. Celebrate our 5th anniversary!

10. My birthday on Memorial Day this year

11. Go to the mountains

12. Go to the library

13. Go for walks

14. Play bubbles

15. Water gun fight

16. Slip-n-slide

17. 4th of July

18. Catch fireflies

19. Go to the zoo

Go to Dollywood

20. Ride bikes

21. Go to the park

22. Go fishing

23. Go hiking

24. Order pizza

25. Camp in backyard

26. Lay on driveway and watch the stars

27. Find our Gabriel star

28. Visit the cemetery lots

29. Go to Smokies game

30. Go to the beach

31. Go swimming

32. Pick blueberries

33. Make strawberry jam

34. Make blueberry jam

35. Get strawberries from Tidwells

36. Visit Daddy at work

37. Find a special place to serve

38. Go to Kingsport

39. See cows + visit Mamaw’s barns

40. Paint on the driveway

41. Paint on the fence

42. Take the dogs for walks

43. Jack’s birthday party at the farm!

44. Remember and celebrate Gabriel

45. Plant flowers

46. Fix up backyard

47. Grill out lots

48. Eat popsicles

49. Play with chalk outside

50. Rent a canoe

51.  Make homemade popsicles

52.  Swim in blow up pools in our yard

 

 

 

he’s 3!

I meant to post this on Sunday but got caught up in the celebrating!

 

Today is Jack’s birthday!  He is 3 years old!  We’ve been busy celebrating this boy and having so much fun!  It’s hard to believe how quickly 3 years can go by.  They’ve been the best 3 years of my life.

 

 

Morgan family jack kissesMorgan family softball

Morgan family maternitynaptime smiles

FamilyPicturesFall2013006_thumb.jpgg day 18 Jack and mommy.adventures.jpg first night without paci

 

Jack's birthday hayride

birthday hayride!   

 

 

 

Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet boy!  He has the most tender heart I’ve ever seen.  He is sensitive but not soft.  He’s a rough and tumble boy with a heart for others and a heart that God uses to bring healing to those around him.  He’s the most precious human I’ve ever known, and I still can’t get over how blessed I am to be his mama.

weight loss + healthy living.

I opened up about my weight fluctuation, gain, and struggles sharing that I started on a weight loss adventure.  It has been and is a huge learning process for me.  In my favor are that I love to eat healthy — I just got way off base.  As an honest dietitian, I would never say it’s easy to change your lifestyle or choose to eat healthy.  It seems like those choices are harder and harder to make these days in this fast-food loving, on the go, processed food world we are in.  I am super middle of the road when it comes to convenience vs. super healthy.  I shop at a regular ol’ grocery store — nowhere fancy, nowhere with all-natural foods.  I buy Goldfish for my kid and regular person yogurt.  And I also make the best choices that I can make every time I go to the store [except for all those times I bring home ice cream].  I think you can be convenient and be healthy, but it takes work and focus.  It never happens by accident.  Here’s an example.

 

We went to the zoo recently and some friends came with us.  Our plan was to grab lunch for them at Chick-fil-A and take it there for a picnic.  What Jack eats at CFA is healthy — grilled chicken and fruit, so I don’t mind that for him at all.  Right now because of my Sjogren’s Syndrome [my autoimmune disease] I can’t eat the grilled chicken, and I don’t eat the fried because of the peanut oil [and that obviously wouldn’t be a healthy choice for weight loss].  So all I can eat at CFA right now is salad smothered in Ranch dressing and fries.  The easiest thing would have been to drive thru and get food for Jack and food for me, but I knew that would add a lot of extra calories that I didn’t need.  So I made a better choice.  It took planning and it took more work, but I’m so glad I did it because I really didn’t want to waste calories because I was being lazy.  So I packed a turkey sandwich on whole wheat for myself along with carrots, and at CFA I got a fruit cup and Diet Coke for myself.  I was happy with my lunch and even happier to not add calories and fat when I wasn’t passionate about it.  If I’m adding calories and fat, I better really want those fries!

zoo picnic

 

 

I give this example as one of success with planning and weight loss.  I have plenty of examples where I didn’t plan ahead and I ate more calories.  Being on the go makes it hard to always be healthy, but taking the time to plan your day and what foods you need makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.

 

zoo picnic fun

Gabriel’s first birthday.

May 5th came and went just like that.  On Monday, we celebrated Gabriel’s first birthday.  A year ago he was born, and we held him in our arms and watched as he took breaths and listened as he let out sweet cries.  And we loved all over him, and we kissed his chunky cheeks so much.  And we spent hours just admiring every single thing about him.  It was such joy.

 

He passed away 2 hours later, so the same day that we celebrate his birth, we also celebrate his arrival in Heaven.  Monday was the first anniversary of his arrival in Heaven.  It would have been his first birthday if he had still been alive.  It marked one year since he was born — since I gave birth to our miracle baby.  It’s amazing how quickly this day arrived.  It’s so hard to believe it has been a year since we had him.  This time last year I dreaded being this far out.  I hated thinking about being so distanced from when I held him.  I hated thinking about the memories fading.  How I wouldn’t be able to feel him in my arms any more.

 

And it’s true that the memories have faded.  I can’t remember vividly what it felt like to hold him.  So many things have faded.  But I will never forget that day.  And when I close my eyes I can almost still smell how amazing he smelled that day.  I will always cling to what I can hold on to from our second son.

 

May 5th is a day worth celebrating, and we had a lot to celebrate this year.  I wanted to celebrate Gabriel’s birthday.  I wanted to celebrate that Gabriel is in Heaven, and I wanted to celebrate how far we have come — that we are still here, that we are survivors.  Sunday was more of a pensive day for me because I had Gabriel on a Sunday last year.  I kept remembering how I was in labor and when we went to the hospital and what time he was born.  I thought about that a lot on Sunday.  But on Monday, I just wanted to celebrate!  If Gabriel was alive we would have had a party for him and celebrated his life.  Gabriel was alive and is now in Heaven which gives us so much reason to celebrate.  So we had a really fun day!

 

We went to Dollywood!  I hadn’t been in over ten years, and Tommy and Jack had never been.  So we sun screened up and made the hour drive to have a great day.  And we did!  We had a blast!  It was just so much fun to be together as our little family — the 3 musketeers.  We call ourselves that because we are such a bonded unit and we have been through so much together.  The weather was gorgeous!  A little hot — or a lot hot to me — and so sunny and just perfect.  I was surprised at how many rides Jack could ride.  He LOVED it!  He wasn’t afraid and had so much fun.  The water ride we went on was my favorite, and he loved it, too.  We spent the day at the park having such an awesome day riding rides, carousels, trams, and trains.  Then we headed home.

 

On our way back into town we stopped by the cemetery.  It was beautiful and sunny and just another day at the cemetery.

 

 

It was the perfect way to spend Gabriel’s first birthday.  We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day, and more importantly, we couldn’t have had a better day together as a family.  We miss our precious baby — a lot — and hitting this mark feels like so much time.  It feels like an accomplishment — sort of like a sense of ‘we’ve made it’.  We will still grieve and still miss our G all the time.  But we have come really far, and have continued to stay bonded together through the hard times of last year.

 

One of the biggest parts of Monday was the love we got.  We are so incredibly overwhelmed by the love and support we have. It was so amazing on Monday to be so loved.  We felt completely undeserving of such love and are just so very thankful to all of you who have reached out to us and supported us.  Thank you for the cards, the love, the gifts, the food, the messages, the kind words, the prayers, and for remembering us.  I couldn’t believe how many people remembered our sweet G’s birthday, and that made my mama heart just burst with joy.

 

I used to be so afraid of people forgetting our sweet G, and Monday just showed me that hasn’t happened.  Thank you for loving our family so well.  We are incredibly blessed.  And we are thankful for you.  God has been so gracious to us and brought us through the last year and a half.  And we have seen the hands and feet of Jesus through friends and family.  So thankful for the love that has been poured out on us.  Thank you, sweet friends, for loving us so well.  We love you!

 

Here are some pictures from our G Day…

g day 2 happy first birthday Gabriel!

g day 3 g day 4 g day 5 g day 6 sleep kid on the way home  g day 7 g day 8 g day 9 g day 10 g day 11 g day 12 g day 13 g day 14 g day 15 g day 16 g day 17 g day 18 g day 19 we’re going to Dollywood!  g day

i’m back and it’s wednesday already.

It’s Wednesday already, and I’m having a hard time believing it.  But I guess that happens when you sit the first day of the week out completely.  Monday is a blur — Jack and I were both exhausted, so we had a lazy day recovering from our busy weekends.

 

I got to spend the weekend doing DiscipleNow with the church I grew up in.  It was awesome.  I was a guest minister in a house of 8th graders, staying with a host family who poured so much into our lives when we were youth.  It is so cool to see those things come full circle.  I got to meet some awesome new people and spend the weekend studying God’s word.  It was seriously awesome.  And seriously exhausting.  It’s been a long time since Tommy and I have worked with youth, and it felt really good and really challenging to be back in it.  I told the youth minister it was like a work out that uses muscles you forgot you had.  That definitely describes my weekend.  It felt good, but I’m also really sore from it.  Good sore.  It’s also the first time I’ve done anything like this since I’ve had an autoimmune disease, so that was a different twist on it.  I think where I normally would have just been tired, I was exhausted and hurting.  But I’ve been taking it slow this week and giving myself a lot of room to just sit and rest after a busy weekend — and busy month, really.  Hence the reason why it doesn’t feel like Wednesday to me.  Monday was fantastic.  I just sat and read a book.  A whole book.  In one day.  I cannot remember the last time that happened.  If you’re looking for a light-hearted read that will make you laugh out loud I highly recommend this book. The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life  The chapter “nilla wafers aren’t a food group” had me laughing so hard.  Jack must have thought I’d lost it as I laughed out loud.  Or that’s the good thing about a 2 year old, he didn’t care why I was laughing, he just joined in laughing with me.

 

It’s hilarious, as is her first book, Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn  She has a line in there about how you buy kids a kids meal and they eat like 1/4 of a chicken nugget and then 12 packets of ketchup.  Um, yes.  Free ketchup always gets more attention than the food you paid for.

 

Jack had a great weekend staying with his Nan and Pops.  He loves to be with them, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual seeing as how he has them wrapped around his finger.  He got a large amount of attention being with them all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I’m fairly certain he didn’t think twice about me or Tommy over the weekend.  Tommy worked the whole weekend, so he was the one not having a different and fun weekend.

 

 

I’m thinking over a lot from the weekend.  I’m not one who is good at sitting, thinking, and resting in something.  But I am learning and God continues to shape me into some different.  This is part of that.  I’m trying not to rush back into reality so quickly.  Spending time away was freeing from the every day tasks that were bogging me down.  It’s so refreshing to sit and rest and be and to look at things like bills and budgets, and bathroom cleaning and kitchen cleaning as joyous works and not burdens.

 

I took 2 pictures over the weekend.  This one is an elevator selfie of the students in my house, me, and another guest minister.

DNow 2014

These are some awesome people!

 

 

Hope you had a great weekend and have had a good first half of your week.

 

 

trip to chattanooga + week in review.

Four years ago we lived in Maryland, I worked in DC, Tommy in Rockville.  Tommy traveled a lot.  He spent some time in Chattanooga.  I was pretty jealous because he was so close to our family and friends while I was up in DC.  While he was in Chattanooga he met Casey.  She lives and works in Texas but spent a lot of time in DC right around the time when Jack was born.  Casey and her husband Brian are great.  We got to spend some time with them while Casey was in DC.  They had also pretty successfully convinced Tommy that we should move to Texas. 

Casey and Brian have the cutest little girl, Emery.  She is something sweet.  And we got to meet her for the first time in person yesterday.  Casey is on business in Chattanooga, and her mom came with her to watch Emery while Casey was in training.  So yesterday, I picked Jack up from preschool and we hit the road.  We picked Tommy up at work and then went to Chattanooga where we got to see Casey again and meet Emery and Casey’s mom, Amy – or Mimi as she’s probably more commonly known as now. 

 

We had a pretty awesome evening for 2 little ones.  Dinner at Cracker Barrel, playing in their hotel, and then swimming.  Jack was loving it and loving his new friends, too! 

 

Nikon D3200 913 Watch out world, you’ll see this little girl in Olympics 2032.  She loves swimming so much!  And has no fear of the water. 

 

Nikon D3200 915

Nikon D3200 916

Nikon D3200 918

Nikon D3200 920

Nikon D3200 923 I told Jack and Emery to look at the camera and smile.  Jack closed his eyes and refused to smile.  0 for 2 buddy. 

 

Nikon D3200 925

Nikon D3200 929 

Nikon D3200 936 

Nikon D3200 937

Nikon D3200 939

It was so fun to see our friends again.  We’re hoping to get to see them, plus Brian, and more of their family again in September. 

 

 

This week has been pretty crazy with sickness at our house, so it’s kind of slipped away from me.  It’s been a good week on the interwebs – lots happening. 

First of all, the web address for my blog has changed a little.  We are now officially adventuresofjackandme.com !  You can still get to the site with the old address, but it’s not necessary any more. 

 

On Monday, I shared over on the Knoxville Moms Blog a little about my experience feeding Jack as a newborn and baby

 

On Wednesday, I was back at KMB where I shared some Valentine’s treats and snacks, including some healthier options. 

 

And today I’m sharing some thoughts about spending time on my Mamaw and Papaw’s farm when we were little over on Jenny’s blog.  Her writing is lovely, so I’m happy she asked me to share there today.  Head over and check it out. 

 

I hope you have a very wonderful weekend!    Thanks for being here and reading. 

more snow days.

Tuesday we had snow all day, and it was fantastic.  I feel terrible for the people in Birmingham and Atlanta who had some really bad situations.  I know conditions were rough in Knoxville, but thankfully not like that.  It took Tommy 2 hours to get home from work Tuesday afternoon, and he had to cancel his business trip due to the weather.  But really an unexpected snow is my very favorite!  I hate when they say we are going to get snow and we get none or flurries.  So I love when it’s not expected and we get a good snow.  We had over 4 inches fall.  Big stuff around these parts. 

Schools were closed on Wednesday, Thursday, and today due to the road conditions.  I was pretty disappointed Jack didn’t get to go to preschool yesterday – I’m sure along with many other mamas.  But I’m glad his teachers get to enjoy some snow time at home. 

 

We’ve been pretty much stuck at home for days now.  So after I shared how stressed I was by how many things I needed to do, I definitely got some rest time at home.  It’s been nice, but we’ve got some things to get done so we will venture out to do some errands today.  Jack is in need of getting out of the house, too. 

 

One would think with all of this time at home I have been really productive.  I should be all caught up on blogs, emails, and house stuff.  Apparently being stuck at home does little for my productivity.  So here are a bunch of pictures from Tuesday night and Wednesday in the snow. 

 

Nikon D3200 732 Nikon D3200 662  Shortly after the snow started.  Nikon D3200 668 Nikon D3200 683 Nikon D3200 692 Nikon D3200 693 Nikon D3200 705 Nikon D3200 723

Nikon D3200 759

This dog doesn’t love the snow, but he does love playing and attention.  Maybe it’s because he was sitting in 2 feet of snow when we got him. 

Nikon D3200 760 Nikon D3200 734 Nikon D3200 743 Nikon D3200 748 He was so excited to go out and play again on Wednesday.  And he looks so cute all bundled up! 

 

Nikon D3200 756 
This dog on the other hand, loves snow.  She’s been in snow taller than her before and loved it so much.  She’s funny. 

 

Hope you are enjoying snow if you have it!  Hope everyone is having a good week! 

snow day.

Yesterday we had a sick day.  Today we are having a snow day.  I’m catching breaks all over the place this week!  Looking at our week ahead on Sunday, I was stressed out because we had something going on every night this week with lots of stuff to get done this week, too.  Sunday and yesterday I was forced to slow down with Jack sick.  Today the snow, aside from how much I just love snow, has really made my week better.  Tommy was supposed to go out of town on business, but thanks to the snow and the bad road conditions, he canceled his trip.  It took him 2 hours to get home from work, so there was no way he was going to get to the airport in time for his flight.  So we get him here with us! 

 

Today we are staying in, watching the snow fall, and playing in it.  I’ve got blankets out, warm food going, and am doing lazy things.  It’s the best!  We are very blessed. 

 

  snow day 2014 jan snow day 2014 snow day 2014 jack

 

 

Our sweet neighbor gave Jack 2 superhero towels that her kids used to wear when they were little.  Jack loves it!  And is definitely my favorite super hero. 

batman jack batman jackman