Memorial Day weekend, huzzah!

Our holiday weekend was full of some of my favorite things: outdoor adventures, memory-making and family.

We started with a picnic Saturday along the Natchez Trace, followed by a hike that quickly turned into a hard-rain dousing, to the enormous entertainment of the youngest members of our crew.

 

 

 

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We came home, took showers, had a spaghetti supper and closed the day with a few holiday weekend fireworks, courtesy of Uncle Ryan.

 

 

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We spent Sunday at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, held at a real-life castle in Arrington, just a short drive from here. We ended the day hot and tired, but everyone had such a good time. We toured the castle, and the kids really enjoyed the junk food, the games and shops and the shows – pirates and Robin Hood, a knighting ceremony, birds of prey and jousting (the clear favorite).

 

 

 

 

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Memorial Day was lower-key, with biking and walking at the local arboretum, a little driveway basketball and squeezing in as much play as possible before my brother and the family headed home. I am reminded, as I sort through photos and look back over the weekend, that these simple pleasures, of family bonding and hiking in the rain, of cousins building Legos, riding bikes, rolling down grassy hills and waving sparklers in the dusk, of outings and memory-making, are all possible thanks to a very steep price. Others have paid for this life we live, and I am grateful. Those who have lost someone to service – including my mom, who remembers her brother today – deserve our remembrance and respect. It’s easy for me to type those words, but living it out, through a bone-deep commitment to the highest ideals and values that make us American – that is where the meaning lies.

Easter and Luke turns 5

This past weekend was beautifully rich and packed with family celebration. It began on Saturday morning with the remarkable SonRise pageant held every year on the campus of Southern Adventist University.

The weekend of celebration continued in the afternoon with a birthday bash for our very own Easter baby, my youngest nephew, Luke. The family gathered at the clubhouse in my parents’ neighborhood for Luke’s requested spaghetti dinner and Easter egg hunt.

Then came opening of the birthday gifts at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

And then came Easter Sunday, spent coloring and hunting eggs and eating pizza at my brother and SIL’s home.

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(Yes, that would be my son hunting eggs in a Rocket costume.)

The message of Easter is one of infinite hope, joy, renewal and life. As we spent the holiday weekend celebrating together, I was struck by how all of it – life and love, family and laughter and childhood joy — points us back to the God who gave everything for us and who continues to pour His gifts into our lives.

Welcome to the jungle: Corin turns 8

Corin loves monkeys and requested a jungle party this year. My brother’s family came for the weekend, which meant lots of great cousin time for the kiddos. March 18 fell on a Sunday, so we got to celebrate on his actual birthday with the family and a few friends from school. We had a great time, and I enjoyed getting to know his friends a little better. They are sweet kids, and I loved seeing how much fun Corin had with them. The day started cloudy and cold, but the sun came out just long enough for the party. It was a great start to a new year of life for the boy who made me a mama.

Also: A huge thank you to all the family who pitched in and helped me pull everything together. I could NOT have gotten it done alone.

 

 

 

 

 

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Here comes the Spiderman

This is an embarrassingly overdue post, but I finally got photos edited from my oldest nephew’s birthday on September 3. Ben turned seven, and we had a Spiderman-themed family celebration. The kids always have a blast together. I grew up living a long distance from my cousins, so I am grateful that my brothers’ kids and mine are close in age and have the opportunity to spend so much time together. This is the stuff of great childhood memories.

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I love what an expressive gift opener Ben is:

You say lollipop, she says microphone…

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We may have worn these guys out…

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Silly string!

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Ben mastered his two-wheel bike on his birthday!

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We spent some time in downtown Chattanooga before heading home.

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Happy birthday, Mimi!

The “kids” in Jon’s family – meaning his brothers, sister-in-law and the two of us – realized ahead of our Rosemary Beach trip that it was likely to be our best chance at having everyone all together close to his mom’s birthday, which comes at the end of October. It’s a big milestone year for her, and we didn’t want to let the opportunity pass. She is a remarkably hard-working lady, who pours attention and care on the people around her and rarely has the opportunity to be cared for herself. It took some doing, but we managed to pull off a surprise birthday dinner at our rented beach house on Thursday night. The Sharp boys and their wives are all good cooks, and the team effort resulted in a bang-up Italian feast. There was homemade chocolate cake, a group gift and a reading of 60 reasons we love our mom and Mimi. The best part was her astonished delight at the whole affair, and the sense that we had managed to communicate a little of the love and appreciation we feel for her.

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I spy someone who wasn’t paying attention to the prayer… 

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