A Place to Write

“Give me a place to write, ” I told him. I didn’t mean a comfy chair or a room with a nice view. I needed the literal space where I write words.

Nearly eleven years ago I sat on a white couch on Captiva Island on our honeymoon and started a blog. Then I deleted it. A couple years later I started another one and stuck with it consistently for many years and enjoyed the heck out of writing about whatever I felt needed to be said. At some point I became extremely sporadic. I once blamed having children for my lack of writing, and while that is a huge part of it, Read more

Problems Everywhere and the Lodge Just Outside the Gate

The day had two beginnings.

The first was at 10:49 pm, after having only been in bed on my quasi memory foam African mattress for less than two hours.

I was on the bottom bunk, Mackenzie was on the top, and the door to our tiny bedroom was locked. Earlier in the week this room had been an escape for six of us out of a small opening in the window bars when the door to our side of the home was unexpectedly locked permanently. That was our first of many #problemseverywhere. We broke the lock, we broke the hot water heater button, we broke the toilet lid, we broke the button on the newly installed fan, we tore the floor covering when we moved the bunk bed to escape the room through the window, the oven broke just because we were around. Don’t invite Americans to your Kenyan home unless you want us to break everything.

IMG_5312After our window escape

Back to the first beginning. 10:49 pm I hear a phone from the other bedroom making a noise. Then I hear Cheryl knocking on our door.

“Girls, are ya’ll up?”

No, I think to myself. I haven’t fallen asleep yet. Up already?

More knocking.

“Girls, are ya’ll awake?”

I get up to check my phone. I had my alarm set for 4:30am and wondered two things: why did my alarm not go off? why do I feel like I haven’t slept at all yet?

I unlock the door and remove the door stopper (safety first) and open the door to Cheryl laughing loudly because the sound she heard on her phone was not the alarm. It was just a sound. And we could, in fact, go back to sleep. Or go to sleep. Since none of us had actually been asleep yet.

The second beginning, which should have been the original beginning to the longest and scariest 24 hours of my life, was at 4:30am. We woke up and left by 5am to have breakfast at Beth and Shadrack’s house. At 5:45 we started the potty train and by 6 we were well on our way to an exciting African safari full of zebras, elephants, meercats, giraffes, lions, water buffalo, wildebeasts, and gazelles. Expectations = something way better than the Birmingham zoo. The safari day drive would end at a lodge with a delicious buffet dinner, a hot shower, and a good night of rest on a comfy bed before a morning safari the next day.

Sounds like the perfect ending to a week of mission work with the most beautiful and joyful people God ever made.


John the Baptist (JtheB) and Shadrack (Shaddy) were the drivers for this safari excursion. Two trustworthy, capable, and experienced drivers on tricky African roads full of meth holes (because pot holes are not a heavy enough description of the road conditions). We were in good hands.

Two hours after leaving Migori we arrived at the first gate entry into the park. We started another potty train, because rule #1 is use the restroom when you can because who knows when the next opportunity will present itself. Rule #2 is bring your own toilet paper.

Once you have paid, you have 24 hours in the park, so instead of paying at the first gate we were issued a transit ticket. This means we had two hours to get from one gate to the next. We planned to pay at the next gate to ensure we could have a later check out the next day. (Yay for sleeping in!) Technically, we weren’t allowed to stop and look at animals while in transit, even though we did a few times. If we didn’t arrive at the next gate within two hours I assume we would have to pay a penalty in addition to our gate entry fee.

It was a beautiful drive on flat grasslands that went on forever and ever. It was like looking at the ocean until the horizon meets the water. Grasslands and trees as far as the eye could see. We saw gazelles, zebras, giraffes, and elephants.


We arrived at the next gate and we all got out to pay our gate entry. We could see the Mara river from this gate.  Robert, a safari guard, asked if we wanted to walk across the river while JtheB and Shaddy drove across.


Sure! Of course! Why not?!

Our “short walk” across the river involved sightings of several hippos, a 20 foot crocodile, and monkeys conspiring against us in the tree branches just above our heads. I’ve loved monkeys my entire life up until this exact moment. I was 100% out of my comfort zone and Robert only had four bullets in his gun. I stayed with the gun and told him to use his bullets wisely.


Little did I know that much later in the day I would learn what it’s like to be 492% out of my comfort zone. These hungry hungry hippos, crocodiles, and maniac monkeys had nothing on the end of this 24 hours.

We met up with JtheB and Shaddy at the end of our walk and we continued our drive through the safari. The American in me was desperate for some road signs. I needed to the know the name of our lodge we were driving toward and I needed some signs for how many kilometers until we arrived. If I asked, 30 minutes or 1 hour would have likely been the answer, which would have been incorrect. To the Lord a day is like a thousand years. To an American 30 minutes is like 300 African hours. I kept seeing signs for lodges (not knowing if any of them were the ones we were driving to) and would see things like “58 km” or “32 km” so I did my mental math. A 5k is 3.1 miles so 58 km is like 40ish miles? And we aren’t driving 60 mph, so it will take longer than 40 minutes to get to this lodge, IF in fact that is our lodge.

A total of five hours passed. We had driven from the north to the south end of the park and we were now exiting the park driving toward a lodge on the side of the mountain with golden roofs. It looked beautiful and I was sure this is where we were headed.

We drove through a Masai community and asked them for directions to our lodge. And all the while I’m thinking, “Follow the road to the golden roofs!”. The Masai gave us directions along a indistinct pathway to an area under trees with tents.  Tents that had “amenities”. Beds, flushing toilets, and a shower inside a large green tarp. We seemed to be the only campers planning to rest their heads in this obscure location managed by a few Masai men. Had a bunch of women been prepared to sleep in tents among Masai men, we would have stayed. But we weren’t. At all. In fact we were hesitant to stay. The tents had no locks and we had young teen girls with us. It was unsettling.


But at this point in our day, we had been driving for 7 hours. We had not had a potty break in 5 hours. We had driven across grasslands with no building or structure in sight and had not eaten anything since breakfast that morning before we left. We were tired, hungry, and “under pressure” as JtheB described needing to go to the bathroom. The dismal situation was described by one of our team members as the scene in a horror movie. We were beginning to feel a little hopeless.

The decision was made to stay at another lodge thanks to our advocates JtheB and Shaddy, but first we would potty in the tents and eat lunch in their cafeteria hut since they had already prepared our lunch.


The lodge we were relocating to was gracious to us and gave us a reduced rate due to our situation. But, would you care to guess the location of this gracious lodge? The north end of the park, where we first entered for a transit ticket several hours ago. Actually, this lodge is located “just outside the gate”. Famous last words.

Cue Pocahontas’s “Just Around the River Bend” because that is the song that was stuck in my head en route to our lodge that was just outside the gate.

It was 3:00 in the afternoon at this point. The park closes at 6:30. So, we had to re-enter the park, drive 5 1/2 hours to the north, and exit the park in a 3 1/2 hour span of time. Somehow we had to shave two whole hours off our drive time. Not only were we pressed for time to exit the park, we needed to arrive at the lodge in time for the dinner buffet. Priorities people. Golden Corral African style.

We began our trek back through the Masai village toward the gate entry on the south end. JtheB realized he needed pressure in one of his back tires. He attempted three times to put air in the tires in random places throughout the village but to no avail. So we re-entered the park at the edge of the Masai village with one flat, shredding tire. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this, but driving on African meth holes with a flat tire isn’t an ideal situation. Neither was the situation we were about to find ourselves in as the tire was changed. We re-entered the park and stopped just on the other side of the gate so JtheB and Shaddy could replace the tire. This minor repair required all of us to get out of the Land Cruiser. This would be no issue,  but the Masai women were at the gate to sell their handmade goods. Our vehicle was surrounded on every side by these women with their faces and goods up against the windows with them begging for us to buy their things. JtheB told us to get out of the vehicle to fix the tire. We were hesitant but he assured us that everything would be sawa sawa (ok). There we were, standing in the midst of these Masai hagglers who refuse to take no for an answer and we had no escape. It was so surreal, like we were on a reality TV show. Where were the cameras? Was this The Truman Show, African Edition? We just stood close and stared at each other with awkward giggles, ignoring these women like we just enjoyed laughing in each other’s faces. Rodan and Fields needs to expand to Africa and recuit these women. Their persistance is unreal. Ten minutes later, or what felt like a brutal and uncomfortable eternity that included an appearance from Sassy Missy, the tire was replaced and we got back in the Land Cruiser.

IMG_5528I no longer care about the safari at this point. Neither does Mackenzie. 

We TORE through that park for an exit. Stirred up all kinds of dirt and dust. Blew past all the wild animals like they were a jaded sight. We certainly exceeded the speed limit and we finally arrived at the gate by the river with the hungry hungry hippos, 20 foot long crocodile, and maniac monkeys. And this is where JtheB coined the phrase “problems everywhere”. The gate authorities would not let us leave without us all paying another $80 entrance fee because we were not going to make it to the final exit gate by 6:30pm. JtheB and Shaddy were not going to allow that a) because it was wrong and b) because none of us were prepared to pay the fee twice. While they discussed the matter with the gate authorities, we began our survival planning– a night spent in the vehicles in the dark surrounded by wild animals. We took inventory of our snacks and water and discussed the safest way to pee in the bush with the hungry hungry hippos. Our other option was to drive back to the tents three hours away. Our options were looking unpromising.

I was at about a 300% level of out of comfort zone at this point. Legit fear was starting to settle in my heart.

Another eternity passed and God allowed us to leave that gate without paying another entrance fee. Praise hands from all of us!

We drove even faster and pressed on toward the final gate so we could rest at the lodge just outside the gate. Around 7 pm we made our exit. After feeling like we had been held hostage at the last gate, we were feeling free and hopeful to leave the park for good. Onward, we Christian soldiers drove, to the lodge just outside the gate. We climbed a hill and Cheryl pointed out some buildings on the side of the mountain that she thought was the lodge we were driving toward. Yay for an end in sight!

We turned down a road at the top of the hill and from my somewhat keen sense of direction, it seemed that a left hand turn would lead us to the lodge Cheryl pointed out, though we couldn’t actually see it anymore. We passed many left hand turns and I began to wonder if JtheB and Shaddy even knew where we were going. After about 40 minutes of driving to the lodge just outside the park it was now dark. We passed a Masai village and asked for directions. A pikipiki (motorcycle) driver agreed to show us the way, so we began to follow. He eventually made a left hand turn, so I was thinking we must be arriving soon!

We were now away from all civilization and all lights, buildings, bathrooms, shelter, food, gas, people, or any hope for help if lost, out of gas, injured, or near death. I had bandaids and Advil–basically a hospital in my backpack so hakuna matata (insert sarsasm). It was complete darkness other than our headlights and the faint red brake light of the pikipiki ahead of us. The billions of stars that God showed Abraham were visible to our eyes. We were completely lost in the dark and at the mercy of the pikipiki stranger.

We quickly realized this pikipiki was taking us on a path that wasn’t really a path, it was just a slightly cleared way in a unknown direction. We began to wonder if he could be trusted. What if he was leading us to be ambushed in some uncivilized village? That may seem extreme, but for several women lost in the middle of Africa at night, we were utterly terrified at this point.

To add terror to terror, the “road” we were on was more like the riverbed to an Olympic-rated white water rafting river on the side of a mountain. We forged four strivers (striver = less than a river, more than a stream). It was like some kind of psychotic Oregon Trail. I’m positive there were many times we did not have all tires on the ground and keeping our vehicle from tumbling down the side of the mountain was directly dependent on how we leaned and shifted our weight inside the vehicle. Every muscle in our bodies was tense and our hands hurt from holding such a tight grip on the handle.

It was at this point that I reached my 492% out of comfort zone level. I was actually fearful that we may not survive the night. Legitimate fear that we would be harmed by some uncivilized natives to whatever land we were driving on or our Land Cruiser would slide and tumble down the mountain and we would be killed.

I think all of that fear settled in our hearts at the same time. We didn’t know it at the time, but JtheB and Shaddy were fearful as well. We began to sing and pray aloud. I could hear God saying over and over again, “Do you trust Me?” We prayed for a straight path. We prayed for no more strivers. We prayed for wisdom for our drivers. We prayed for deliverance from this situation. We prayed to arrive quickly. We sang aloud many praise songs to keep our focus on our almighty and trustworthy Protector and Provider.

I can say that I have never needed to trust God like I did on this night. No person had any control and we trusted our lives into the hands of the only One who is in control. In a very odd way, I had peace in the midst of this frightening situation because I knew I had Someone holding me that is absolutely trustworthy and able and only allows things that are for my good and His glory.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. Just to take Him at His word. Just to rest upon His promise and to know thus saith the Lord. 

After 1 1/2 hours of hazardous driving conditions we saw something I never thought would bring excitement to see. Cement. A bridge. A pathway to the entrance to the lodge. We screamed. We shouted. We clapped. We thanked God loudly.

Arriving at the lodge feeling frazzled and wondering what on God’s green earth just happened to us

We arrived with the warmest welcome by the lodge employees. Their smiles and handshakes and greetings were like God himself was hugging us and saying, “I heard your cries and I have delivered you. Let’s celebrate!” I hugged one of the employees and said, “You have no idea how happy I am to see you!” We ate a delicious dinner and we even we had cake to celebrate Beth’s birthday. The kitchen staff sang happy birthday in Swahili and English. We were joyful and we were humbly grateful to be safely in the company of people that made us feel like family. It was all grace.

Oh for grace to trust Him more. 

And we were promised by Johnston, a Masai man, that he would lead us on a different path down the mountain the next day.

I could sleep well that night, knowing there was a safer way to get down the mountain and on our way to Nairobi for our flight.


It poured rain all night long and I couldn’t sleep for thinking that the rain would either make the path down the mountain worse or prevent us from leaving at all.

The next morning came early as part of the team woke up to leave for Nairobi. The night rain was not going to prevent us from leaving, so we ate breakfast and loaded up the Land Cruiser one last time.

We saw the sun rise over the Serengeti and God reminded me that without the terror-filled drive to the lodge, I would have never seen this stunning view of His creation. His goodness prevails always. And without that drive I would also not have had the opportunity to trust Him as deeply as I had the night before.


I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. He is trustworthy. He is able. And maybe He allowed the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad drive so that I could experience His abiding presence through the warm greeting at the lodge, the dinner celebration, and the sunrise.

Johnston, the Masai who promised a different path back down the mountain? He rode with us that morning and took us on the exact same path. I guess you could say it was different though. The rain turned the dirt to mud and the strivers were higher. The driving was also different, ya know, with a lot more sliding and fishtailing. There was no “turn around, don’t drown”. It was all “clench your butt cheeks, hold tight to your OS bar, and hope for the best.”


It was sawa sawa.

No worries.

Hakuna Matata.

John the Baptist, you are my hero. I will be forever grateful for your diligence in muddin’ precious cargo through the mountains in Kenya.


Next time I want to see an elephant or a giraffe, I’m coming right back here to see my pictures. Mark my words. Brittany will not be attending the safari next time. Just give me one more day with those precious kids at Golden Gate Academy because I miss them terribly.



Granny Rosie

One year. 365 days to let it sink in that you live with Jesus now. It’s still very, very fresh.

8-8-16 and you were 88 years old. Numbers have meaning beyond a math problem.

Your life, even to the last breath you took, was all grace. It was a beautiful picture of the faithfulness of Jesus, His provision, and intimate relationship He has with his children.

There are things I knew I’d miss once you were gone. It’s a thought I’ve had since a little girl. I wondered who would supply my Reese’s addiction (that you started) and who would provide the Trident original during big church.  Still waiting on those Reese’s to rain down from Heaven, by the way. I knew I’d miss your laughter. Who doesn’t? I knew I’d miss your gallon of sugar with a little bit of tea. I knew I’d miss your counsel, your wisdom, and your crazy sense of humor. I knew I’d miss burgers and dancing to Dad’s piano playing on Saturday nights. I knew I’d miss beach trips. I knew I’d miss your love and devotion to your family and friends. What an example you were of how to serve a family with unending selfless love.

There’s so much about you to miss. I think about you often throughout my day. Maybe this is weird, but I hear you talking to me? I think because I’ve heard your voice so much that I just know exactly what you’d say to me in every situation. I still hear your laughter. I still post certain things on Facebook because I think you’ll enjoy seeing it, especially if it’s about the kids. I still think about going to visit you when we’re in town and going to pick you up for this or that. I still look for you at family events. I still listen to your voice on my voicemails that I can not and will not delete.

I just sometimes think you are still here. And when I remember you aren’t, it’s just as gut wrenching as it was on August 8, 2016 when Brent drove to school, met me on the playground, and told me you had passed away.

Many things I knew I’d miss. But one thing I did not see coming. One thing I did not really even know was a thing to be missed. I did not foresee how much I’d miss observing your relationship with the Lord, observing the tangible and real faithfulness of Jesus in a person.

I have always been profoundly impacted by your unshakeable faith in Jesus Christ after enduring the death of not only your only sibling and your parents, but also your child and your husband. I can hear you singing “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.”  

It’s always been a mystery to me how you endured such suffering. Jesus, of course. But, get real–all that tragedy and you were still faithfully clinging to Him?

It was all a mystery until you died and it was as if I was invited to a front row seat of the relationship you have with your Father.

As a child, we spent the night with you often. You made the best pallets on the floor by your bed. You let us have the extra large king size pillows to sleep on. We’d get ready for bed and pile up on our pallets while you read to us from the Bible. It wasn’t an option. It was what Granny Rosie did before going to bed. And we looked forward to it.

You always had your Bible. You did not let a day go by that you didn’t read it. Even the night before you died, very frail and weak, you read your Bible. You prayed to God.

You let nothing get in the way of your time spent with God. Vacations, illnesses, hospital stays, late nights, grandkids spending the night, etc. Nothing at all prevailed as a reason to skip your nightly Bible reading and prayer time. There was nothing legalistic about it. You enjoyed it. You wanted it.  It was just as much a part of your life as eating. It was woven into your life in a completely natural way.   

After your death, you know we all tore up the house looking for things that would bring back wonderful memories. I found stacks of Bibles, covered up in notes. In every nook and cranny of your house I found pieces of paper with handwritten prayer requests on them. You wrote them down wherever you were when you heard of a need. There were reminders to pray for others all over your house. You define a prayer warrior. Not only did you write down the request, you wrote down the praise when a prayer had been answered. There was no room in your house that did not have written evidence of God’s work.  Your house was filled with reminders of God’s goodness.

I think back to that mystery, of how you endured such suffering, and I see clearly now what it was that carried you.

It’s one simple word.


You abided in Christ every second of every day. You recognized and understood that He was your only hope. You depended on Him solely. He was your life line. Without Him you could do nothing. You could not carry about your day without His abiding presence.  You could not walk through life’s tragedies without His Spirit alive in you. He was it. He was enough. He was your all in all. He was truly your strongest and best confidant. He knew you fully, and I dare say you knew Him as fully as one possibly can on this side of Heaven.

Mystery solved. Christ abided in you. You abided in Him.  (Abided? Abode?)

I need a reminder to be that in love with Jesus, to be that dependent on Him for every need and every second of my day.  

After searching through your many Bibles on a mission to find “abide” written in your Bible…

I found this…

And did this…


Now Granny Rosie, before you get to thinking I’ve turned into a rebel since you left, talk to Jesus. He knows my heart. He knows Miss Goody Two Shoes over here prayed about this for two years, wanting to be sure she was not being dishonoring or disobedient.  This may be a stretch, Granny Rosie, but just as the Israelites wore God’s commands on their body (granted, bound to their arms with leather straps, not permanent ink), this is me binding His word to my arm so I can internalize His truth and be reminded of His abiding presence.

I settled on the word “abide” long before you died. I’ve since discovered that you are a wonderful reminder for me of what it means for Christ to abide in me, and for me to abide in Christ. It’s only fitting I would have the word in your handwriting from your Bible on my wrist.

You are loved and missed immensely, in ways I can’t express with words. Your life was an incredible testimony to God’s faithfulness to His children. He never let you go. He held you and He carried you all the days of your life, even to your last moment as He answered your greatest prayer in your later years…to not die alone and to continue to live in your house. God granted your request on 8-8-16, because He’s a great God with great love for His people. You were welcomed into His presence after taking your last breath in Dr. Weldon’s office with Dad by your side. The two people you probably trusted most on this earth were the two people God allowed you to see last as you slipped into eternity.

Amen and amen. God is good. And I can’t wait to see you again.

When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!  

Scott’s Third Birthday

Happy birthday, buddy! If there is any single word I could use to describe your life it would be joy. Sure, you have some unpleasant toddler moments, some days more than others. That is to be expected and considered part of your development as a kid. Aside from normal toddler behaviors, you radiate so much joy. Your smile and laughter are contagious. It’s obvious you are being raised by two very sarcastic parents because you try so hard to get away with things by saying “I was just trying to be funny.” It works often, because you are very funny.

If there was an award for the best brother to be stuck between two sisters, you’d win hands down. You love your sisters with all the love you have to give, though sometimes that love is expressed through aggressive playfulness. You will make them tougher and they will make you softer. It’s a win win for everyone.

Your three years on this earth have been full of life. Can’t stop won’t stop should be your motto, because you are all in or all out and everyone is going to know. You love all modes of transportation: “tars”, trains, bikes, motorcycles, “ambulamps” (ambulances), “wees tars” (police cars), fire trucks, garbage trucks, “recycwing trucks” (recycling trucks), etc. You also love riding in your Power Wheels F-150. Your pick up truck is probably the best investment we’ve ever made in a toy for you. You throw things in the back, ride all over the yard, fix it when it’s “broking” (broken), and take your sisters for a ride. Every night you sleep with your doggy pillow, cars that you have to park just right on the bed first with one to hold in each hand also, and your Bible that you usually tuck under one arm. There are usually other various toys to be found in your bed each night. You are actually dependable (as dependable as a 3 year old can be) when I’m needing your help with Ruby. You are her little protector. You watch her every move and make sure nothing goes in her mouth that shouldn’t. Bottom line: I love being your mommy. It’s the best. You are the most fun 3 year old boy and we love watching you grow, learn new things, and laughing with you. You help keep things less serious around our house because with your happy go lucky personality it’s hard to stay mad or stressed for long. You are starting to understand the things of God and for that we are very grateful. When you choose to obey us, you get all excited and say “That makes Jesus happy!”

Here is your 3 year old interview that you weren’t really that in to. No surprise there. Your answers are first, Mommy’s answer in parentheses when necessary.

What is your name? Stotty
How old are you? fwree
What is your favorite thing to do? uhhh…I don’t know. (Play with your sisters, ride in your truck, jump on the trampoline, swing, play with your train table and cars)
What is your favorite food? eltmo (oatmeal, also chocolate chips)
What is your favorite drink? juice and milk
What is your favorite color? black
What is your favorite animal? I like to ride on trains (lions, bears, and dinosaurs)
What is your favorite show? Blaze and Paw Patrol
What is your favorite movie? The Incredibles (also Star Wars)
What is your favorite toy? Bigger truck (the car hauler you got with birthday money from Mom and Pop)
What is your favorite song? The ting one (Head Over Boots by Jon Pardi. Scott calls it “the king one” because of the line “if I was a king, you would be my queen”. He knows every line. He also likes 80s Mercedes by Maren Morris, which he calls “80s acedes”)
What is your favorite book? Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, Don’t Push the Button, your seek and find book
What is your favorite Bible story? My Bible story (David and Goliath)
Who is your best friend? Zoe, Macy (Zoe is a girl from your class last year and Macy is a dog. Mommy says Parker is your best friend because you tell me all the time that Parker is your buddy. You make friends and play with anyone.)
What makes you happy? a trains (also seeing your sisters in the morning when you wake up)
What do you want to be when you grow up? Two. I’m fwree. I mean I’m fwree. (This was his first answer.)
I know you are three, but what job do you want to have when you grow up? Oooo…a tuptake (cupcake)!

For your party, we invited friends and family to have pizza and cupcakes at the park. The theme was Paw Patrol because it’s your favorite!

Ruby’s 10th and 11th months

10 months

11 months

 It’s a good thing we only have one more of these because we’re definitely going downhill with these monthly pictures

Firsts: crawling, pulling up, beach trip, taste of ice cream and whole milk, Kiddie Carnival, ride on a carousel, fourth of July fireworks, drive-in movie

Favorite Toy/Activity: dancing, if there isn’t a song on  you click your tongue to make your own beat 

Mommy’s Favorite: Your dance moves 

Daddy’s Favorite: When you say hey to him and get all excited to see him. He is definitely your favorite person right now! 

Lily’s Favorite: When you try to talk 

Scott’s Favorite: When you play in his bedroom with him 

Milestones: you’ve transitioned from formula to whole milk, you are in 12 month clothes, you are crawling and pulling up, you are pointing or reaching out to people or things you want 

Weight/Length: I’m guessing you are somewhere between 20-23 pounds

Like Mommy: Your hair is getting lighter and showing signs of being curly 

Like Daddy: You are content and easily pleased 

Like Lily: Most mornings you wake up in a good mood and occasionally you will stay in bed and talk before we come to get you

Like Scott: You love milk! 

Best Memory: Your first beach trip with Granny Rosie, which was also her last beach trip with all of us 

Biggest Challenge: You finally got some teeth. 4 came in at the same time which meant you were fussy, cranky, snotty, and in pain for at least two weeks. 

How We Spend the Day: You are up around 7 in the morning, usually after Mommy, Lily, and Scott are gone for school. You have some milk and breakfast then Daddy takes you to school. You play, eat, sleep, learn at school until Mommy picks you up in the afternoon. Once you are home, you eat a snack and play with Lily and Scott until dinner time. You eat whatever Mommy cooks for dinner and are in bed by 7:30 every night. 

Nicknames: Wuby Jeams

Funniest Moment: No moment in particular, but your personality is really starting to shine and it’s so fun to watch! 

Words: “Daaaadee” is daddy and baby. “Hey” while pointing means you want keys or a phone. You also have picked up on the fact that when you need someone you yell their name over and over again until you get that person’s attention, so when someone else is yelling a name you start yelling things too. I mean, why not? 

Coming Up: Your first birthday party! 

First time to ride the carousel

Precious memories with Granny Rosie on your first beach trip and her last

You had such a fun summer with Lily and Scott

First movie and first time at the drive-in! We saw The BFG. 

First taste of ice cream 

Enjoying some time with Pop in Mentone

Watching the fireworks on the fourth of July! 

You and your hair are WILD! 

I think this may be my favorite picture of you

Hanging out with your cousin Mav at the beach

First time at Kiddie Carnival. It was hot and you were miserable. This is also how mommy looked all night. 

Just checking out the dog food

Lazy morning at the beach 

Last Wright family beach trip with Granny Rosie. She passed away on Monday, August 8, 2016. 

With your namesakes after Granny Rosie’s funeral. Your great grandmothers Ruby (left) and Jean (right). 

Dear Little VKs: That Summer

Dear Little VKs,

I dare say this is the best summer I’ve ever had. Yes, even better than any summer I had as a kid or a teen.

You know why? Because you are here.

I feel a sense of completeness. This is my life. You are my kids. The ones I dreamed of raising. And this is that summer…the one I imagined when I was dating your daddy. The summer where he goes to work during the day and I have the summer off so we just play in the wide open spaces of our yard and I don’t care as much about a dirty house and keeping up with laundry and cooking actual meals. What’s important is enjoying the time we have together. Jumping on the trampoline. Splashing in the $15 inflatable pool from Aldi. Pushing you in the swing on our hand-me-down play set. Watching you drive your Power Wheels all over the yard and killing the battery everyday. Sometimes twice. Reading books. Watching the baby birds in the bedroom window. Curling up on the couch to watch a movie and eat popcorn. Catching fireflies in a mason jar.

This is all I ever wanted. I don’t have big, lofty goals I want to attain in my life. I have a few goals in mind and I would like to reach them one day. But, you are what I wanted. The three of you and your daddy. Oh, and the dog, but her hair is everywhere and y’all keep letting her out of the fence and I have to chase her and yell “SANIBEL, COME GET SOME BREAD” like a redneck and I’d rather keep this chipper so we are just going to drop the dog talk right now.

I don’t deserve for that summer I imagined to become this summer. I don’t deserve for you to be my reality. But here we are, filthy and smelly from playing outside all morning and all I can do is tear up and thank God that I have all of you.

Abide in Him, my children, and His desires will be planted in your heart. You will grow to want the same things He does.

It was first His desire to give you to me. To give your daddy to me. And to give me to all of you. Our family is just what I pictured, but it was God’s design first. And He is the one that planted the desire for you in my heart.

I’m going to fail you everyday. I’m going to mess up and make the wrong choice and say the wrong thing and jump to the wrong conclusion. But you can be certain that none of those things will happen with your Heavenly Father.

Keep the joy that you have. It’s utterly contagious. And when you feel you are losing that joy, ask God to restore it. Because your joy will lead others to joy in Christ. It certainly has that effect on me.

Thanks for being you. Don’t change.

Except this one thing, please stop letting the dog out of the fence.

I love you always.

Ruby’s Ninth Month

Miss Ruby, you have officially been out as long as you were in! You have done so much growing and learning this month! 

Firsts: Sitting up without any help, swimming in a pool, taste of chocolate pudding, eating meat and all kinds of table food (including eggs and peanut butter!), riding in Lily’s jeep and Scott’s truck, trip to the Birmingham Zoo and Discovery Center in Murfreesboro  

Favorite Toy/Activity: Rolling all over the floor, dancing, your red toy car that you play in on the rug, Lily’s baby doll 

Mommy’s Favorite: Your dance moves 

Daddy’s Favorite: When you say hey to him and get all excited to see him. He is definitely your favorite person right now! 

Lily’s Favorite: When you try to talk 

Scott’s Favorite: When you sit with him in the chair to watch Paw Patrol or Blaze 

Milestones: Sitting up, you have completely given up a bottle–you will only drink out of sippy cups now, no more baby food, 9 month clothes, size 3 diapers 

Weight/Length: I’m guessing you are close to 20 lbs 

Like Mommy: Your hair is getting lighter and showing signs of being curly 

Like Daddy: You are content and easily pleased 

Like Lily: Most mornings you wake up in a good mood and occasionally you will stay in bed and talk before we come to get you

Like Scott: You do “The Wiggle” in your high chair, a signature move your brother created when he was your age

Best Memory: Nothing in particular sticks out, but all of our summer days spent at home playing with your brother and sister are sure to create memories for all of us! 

Biggest Challenge: You are such an easy baby, I can’t think of a challenge. You want to crawl so bad but just can’t figure it out yet. It frustrates you sometimes. 

How We Spend the Day: You wake up anywhere between 6 and 7, take 6 oz of formula and eat yogurt or a pancake for breakfast, play, nap from about 9-10:30 sometimes a little earlier, take another 6 oz at 11, play, eat lunch whenever your siblings do (usually turkey, cheese, fruit), nap from about 1-2:30 or 3, another 6 oz at 3:30, play, sometimes a cat nap around 4:30, dinner at 5:30ish (usually whatever we are eating), another 6 oz at 7ish, and bed by 8. You also munch on snacks throughout the day 🙂  

Nicknames: Wuby Jeams and Miss Ruby 

Funniest Moment: Watching you dance and wiggle to the music on your toys 

Words: “hey ya” is usually your way of saying hey to anyone, but “hey da” is your slightly different version reserved for your daddy :). You say these while either waving or sticking your hand straight out waiting for a high five 

How We Celebrated: We made cupcakes! But I didn’t let you have any 😦 Be patient little one, your first birthday will be here soon. 

Coming Up: the beach!!! 

Driving in my big red car! 

A summer stroll

Play date with Seth. Looks like you two really enjoyed each other’s company. 

You remind me of Scott here. Such joy! 

All babies need doggie kisses. 

Riding with the wearer of swimming glasses (aka goggles). 

A HOT trip to the zoo! 

Playing at the children’s museum. They had a small section just for your size!

Family ride on the zoo train

Dancing with Quinton on Memorial Day 

He loves loves loves to have his Wuby Jeams next to him! He says you are his best friend. 

The three little VKs

Excited about pancakes for breakfast! 

You got to be a flower girl again at the wedding of Travelers and Puppy Puppy. The creative wedding planner was your big sister Lily. 

Sitting in the chair watching Blaze! One of his favorite things to do with you. 

First time in the pool! You kicked and kicked and kicked some more! 

Lookin’ good with your daddy at Travelers and Puppy Puppy’s *inflatable* poolside reception. 

Getting the bunny ears from your sister! 

All smiles after a night swim!