Thursday, September 25, 2014

To grandmother's house we go!

The much anticipated trip back home began with me flying with the kids by myself for the first time.  
It went surprisingly well other than trying to carry all the luggage by myself.  
This $5 cart for 5 minutes of use was the best decision I made that day....that and packing 16 pounds of snacks in my carry on.
My three traveling munchkins ready to head to Tulsa to see great-grandma.

Not many kids get to know their great grandparents and so we know how blessed we are that our kids have been able to meet four great grandparents.  My grandmother makes 100 look great!

I love my grandma so much!  It was such a treasure to spend 3 days with her and the family!

And here is another fun part of visiting grandma :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A little trip to the big trees.

The Redwoods have been at the top of our "must see" list for California since we found out that we were moving here and they did not disappoint!  
We had so much fun exploring Avenue of the Giants and the other areas of the Redwood National Forest.  I only wish that we could have hiked and camped out more but with three littles, it was just too much for this trip.  
The trees truly are as amazing as they look in pictures!  

The tree that we were going to drive through....until our car didn't fit. 

Two things that the kids had on them at all times on this trip: sticks and binoculars.  

Climbing inside, over and around this fallen over tree was amazing!  Cole, whose interest in science is growing daily, was full of questions about mold, roots, bark, bugs and moss. 

My sassy hiker.
Truly an amazing experience! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Oh how we love the beach.

When we found out that we were going to be moving to California I instantly got excited about being closer to the beach.  
I love the beach.
I love the sand, the stillness, the movement of the waves, walking on the edge of the water....just everything.  
I really love laying on the beach reading for hours like I did with my sis on a couple trips years ago but my beach days don't look like that anymore. 
These days, my beach days involve shovels, buckets, sticks, buried treasure and sandcastles. 
And I love it.

I also thought that the beach was always warm.
But that is not true.  The beach in Northern California is usually a little chilly and I really actually like it!  The kids mostly stay in the sand and build, dig, run and play.  
We stopped at Fort Bragg on our way to the Redwoods because we all wanted to go back to the coast one more time this summer.  
Fort Bragg is famous for their glass beaches, several beaches made up of sea glass. 
We had to scale and descend a few small cliffs (all 5 of us plus Jake) because we apparently took the scenic route.  The beaches were really cool and the kids loved picking out their favorite colors and digging through "real treasure".

And then we played in the sand.  
For hours.
And this boy, he melts my heart.  All he talked about for a week before we got to the beach was digging for treasure, burying treasure, digging the deepest holes....he even woke up the first night we were there at 2 am worried that we had forgot his gold coin to bury.  
(Brenner thought that was less cute than I did. )

And he really did dig a crazy deep hole, bury a coin, dig it up and then repeat until all his coins were lost.  
Jake kind of likes the beach too. 

I'm excited that our next beach trip will be in Hawaii at Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When Nana came to visit.

My mom came into town for a week to keep the kids for us while we went on our marriage retreat.  We are so thankful for her willingness to come and keep these three!  
I forced them all into a little photo session on her last night and I adore these few pictures of her with the kids.  
Three cheers for grandparents!!


Nana and her Clara Beth. 

Here are a few photos from when we went bowling while my mom was here too.  
We had so much fun and we laughed so hard at how ridiculously slow the girls' balls would roll down every time.  They were very patient about it thought :)  

Doesn't everyone bowl with a child on their shoulders?  I am pretty sure he got a strike here too.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A few thoughts on marriage.

A couple of weekends ago, Brenner led a marriage retreat for Beale AFB and I was actually able to go with him thanks to my amazing mom who flew out here to watch the kids for us.
The retreat was in Reno at an all inclusive place where we were able to eat amazing meals that did not include the phrases 'take your next bite of food or you will go to timeout' or 'get your fork out from between your toes'; sleep in and not wake up 3 or 4 times during the night to a certain 2 year old who wants a hug and to be carried back to bed (her name may rhyme with Fara); go to the pool without spending 34 minutes lathering up tiny bodies in sunscreen and floaties and actually be able to READ A BOOK POOLSIDE (one of my favorite things ever); get a massage, eat frozen yogurt for dinner, and watch tv in bed.  
And Brenner made me go on one of those giant swing rides that takes you 180 feet in the air and then lets you go and you swing back and forth like a pendulum.  Yeah, I almost barfed all over Reno and never opened my eyes.  Not my favorite part of the weekend but at least Brenner loved it. 

All that awesomeness was nestled in between some really great marriage talk though. 
Brenner did an amazing job talking about biblical marriage and what that should look like in our lives. 
He talked on respect, honor, forgiveness, honesty, expectations, leadership, and more.  There was also so much time just to sit and talk with your spouse.  
And for me, when I take the time to pour into my marriage a little, it makes me realize how much I want to make my marriage and my relationship with Brenner grow. 
Brenner has really loved being able pour into other people's marriages as part of his role here as a chaplain.  He did some marriage counseling and weddings before entering the Air Force, but being able to lead these marriage retreats are something he really loves.  

Y'all, we had some hard times early on.  
Most marriages have been through tough times.  
Our tough marriage times coincided with our tough individual times too, which I also think is not that unusual.  When you are going through something hard personally, it is going to affect your marriage.  Getting married young, just as everyone tells you (but you refuse to listen), really does make some things a lot harder.  I was still in college, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, who I wanted to be, and all of a sudden I was supposed to share everything about my life with another person.  Brenner and I walked what felt like separate paths with separate goals for a long time.  We would go through ups and downs but looking back, a lot of the ups were not really what they should have been, nothing compared with the closeness and strong relationship that we have today. 
We did agreed on the goal of our marriage (to glorify God together) but we did nothing for to move closer to that goal.  
We did not work on communicating our needs, our hearts, 
our desires for what we wanted our life to be.  
And now, I as hard as those years were, where we were focused on ourselves and on our separate desires, they have made these years, the years where we openly talk about our hearts, where we communicate deeply, where we work towards our life goals together and where we have learned to respect, honor, and cherish each other deeply so much more sweet.  
Our commitment, to each other and our marriage, never wavered.   

I am thankful for our struggles because they have made us so much stronger.  I am so thankful for walking this journey with Brenner, that his passions have become my passions, that my heart is shared with his heart, where together we can work on bringing glory to God together and raise our kids to do the same.