April 2018

How to pick up after being away for so long?!?
I guess I start with yesterday's Picture of the Day :)
Post Friday-night tennis - out with friends
The first quarter of 2018 simply got away from me.  I am enjoying every minute of it, not over-tired or stressed. . .just enjoying the busyness of life.  We have so much going on -- my new 30+ hr/week job, tennis, travel soccer, Bible study, college visits. . .and what consumed most of my "home time" was studying for the FINRA Series 6 exam.  It has been a long time since I have had to learn something completely new to me. . .and then take a high-stakes test.  The book, including glossary, was over 400 pages and I'm sure I read/studied each page at least twice.  I never counted how many practice tests I took -- dozens and dozens.  When I passed on Wednesday, this was my Picture of the Day:
Those are just notes and things on top of the book. . .the practice tests were all online.  Anyway, yesterday was a bit more exciting than Wednesday -- it's when my company acknowledged my passing and put paperwork through to change my status :)  Onward and forward. . .I have many tests/licenses to secure and LOTS to learn since I can now move into the role of Client Service Specialist (or something like that -- my title hasn't been decided yet).  What a complete turn in the road for me -- and I'm loving it.

So. . .enough about me. . .my favorite "job" is still Mom and favorite title is Wife. . .God has greatly blessed us.  When our kids were 4, 5, 7, and 9 people would look at us and say, "someday they will be 14, 15, 17, and 19 -- watch out!".  We are there now and you know what?!?  I love this age as much as I loved that one.  
(I could have gotten lost going through 2008 -- focus!!)
This was Easter Sunday 2018.  These four are the absolute BEST kids, working hard in school and solid in growing and serving Jesus -- two getting ready to spend the summer again at Cedar Lake Camp, one hoping to get out there as much as she can (has a lot on her plate preparing for senior year) and one who has one last year as a camper.
Speaking of CLC, I was out there a couple of weeks ago for a board meeting (Erin had spent her spring break out there working their Spring Break camp) and every time I am there I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of that organization.
Picture of the Day 3.17.2018 - Cedar Lake Camp
Last month Tom was out of town with the girls for soccer so the boys and I headed down to Chattanooga with our framily, Tommy & Barbara, to spend the day with Robert.
It was simply a gorgeous day. . .we went to early service here at home, then drove down and got Robert for lunch, went to the park, 
crossed the walking bridge, got ice cream, Barbara and I did some shopping (!!) and Robert took us on a campus tour.  It was a fabulous early March day.
This guy is having a great freshman tennis season!  He's still disappointed to be a JV player, but at 14 and just over 5 feet. . .well. . .he certainly always surprises his opponents with powerful serves and control and consistency on the court.  He "upped" his clinic time, practices, and played all winter on a league at a tennis club here in town and he has really, really improved.  This is technically his second year on a HS tennis team because he was allowed to play on his small Christian school's team last year as an 8th grader.  We are so proud of his accomplishments and growth in the sport.  He has a heart of gold when it comes to serving others, picking out the "perfect" gifts (in his head, a handmade gift is better than anything so he attempts that most of the time), and he's been cooking/baking a lot more lately.  
He and Laura are getting known at my office for their culinary skills -- one of the assistants is already thinking of what she wants him to prepare for her birthday in June!  I was out of town for one of the partner's birthdays in March and Stephen was so disappointed to miss out on making a meal for him.
Laura and I went on a whirlwind college tour over Spring Break. . .I think in the end we put over 800 miles on the car!  This blurry picture that my mom was trying so hard to take with my phone at 7 in the morning, was Day 3 of 3 -- Cedarville University.  (You should click on that link -- the homepage video shows you everything she loves about that school.)  

There is such a long story about "how we got there". . .one for another day.  That tour was an all-day thing -- beginning with walking in the door and being greeted by a friend from 12-15 years ago!  So funny how paths cross like that :)  We had an initial introduction, went to their daily worship service, met with an advisor from the college of nursing (Laura's deciding between nursing and pre-med), ate lunch with the soccer coach (only 2 spots left. . .dk how promising that is), and then took a major campus tour.  It's a beautiful campus but COLD and more "out there" then the rural TN areas we have lived. . .so. . .I don't know.  It's exactly 5 hours from parking lot to driveway. . .and expensive.  But, we'll see.  You gotta dream, right?
We stayed with my mom and I got to see my sister every day I was there too!  Day 1 we went to Carson-Newman (we both really liked it!) and then Day 2 we headed to the University of Dayton -- mainly because we were there anyway and it's Tom's alma mater.  That day it snowed, in the middle of March. . .Laura doesn't care about the snow or cold but I said, "this is why I'm so happy to live further south" -- ha!
UD campus tour March 14 - weather does not scream "Spring Break"!
We're trying to talk her into some of the public schools here in TN -- she toured UT a couple years ago with Robert and, of course, has been to UTC many times.  She'd still like to try for a school that will let her play soccer but her grades are high enough and she's focused enough on her ACT scores that she can probably qualify for some honor's scholarships too.  It will be interesting to see what has happened a year from now. . .

She let me post this on Instagram so I'm sure it's OK to put it here too ;)
(Want me to do a commercial for Mary Kay's charcoal face mask?  We love it here!)
 I think you pretty much have to go to Erin's Instagram page to find pictures of her -- she does not like us to take them. . .every once in awhile I will (1) bribe her for one or (2) will catch her when she can't catch me :)  This was after their last tournament game in Ohio -- in FEBRUARY -- they, luckily, both played at the same time on fields next to one another.  I got to stay in the car to watch Laura's game while Tom and Stephen froze on the sidelines of Erin's.  We drove straight home after that -- five hours after this picture was taken we were basking in Tennessee sunshine :)
Tom's company has been working on this new building for well over a year -- they moved in in February and had the ribbon cutting.  Tom is hiding in the back. . .front and center is the owner and on both her sides are Tom's boss and boss's boss. . .who also referred Robert for his intern job (same company, different work) in Chattanooga.  We are so thankful that Mesa brought us to Knoxville.  In fact, that was my Picture of the Day on Thursday --
My office had an event downtown and this was the view outside our reserved room.  I love this city -- it feels like "home".  Our middle TN home was a great place to raise kids, and of course the city we grew up in will always hold fond memories and friends, but I hope this is our forever home.

We were so, so fortunate to see Marla two times while she was visiting here last week!  We love her so much and hope her friendship with our family lasts a lifetime.
Picture of the Day 03.29.2018

Of course, I'm happiest when I'm at home, hanging out with family and friends (and friends of friends).  On the Thursday night before Easter three of the kids had friends over. . .we had a total of twelve for dinner.  On Friday we had some tennis friends over (no pictures -- boo!) for another meal.  We took Saturday "off" (ha!) and then Easter Sunday, Barbara and Tommy came over and shared our meal with us -- we've never been in Knoxville for Easter so this was new territory for us. 

We also got to FaceTime Nana & Grandpa Fred.
There's so much to cover in three months. . .and I never even got up a Christmas post!  

I had a birthday. . .not a big deal, but my wonderful coworkers showered me with lunch, a card, symphony gift certificate, and flowers.  It was so nice!
My kiddos also stopped by the office with delicious blueberry muffins made with a lemon cream cheese icing.  I had found the recipe months ago and they remembered!  That was a surprise (and great treat!) for me :)

My dad also came down and, since Barbara's birthday and mine are just days apart, we celebrated together -- 
Tom bought me a new tennis outfit (I'm wearing the visor) and my dad brought Barbara a beautiful bowl.  And I had my full table :)
I bought that meat in December when it was super on-sale and froze it especially for February.

As I'm trying to end this I keep finding other memories from the first three months of 2018. . .I don't take nearly the pictures I used to and am grateful for what I have. . .here was a WIN in Gatlinburg in February --
 (yes, that was a "bribe" picture -- we only buy tournament t-shirts when there is a win. . .and pictures are required!)
Stephen was my work guest at a Lady Vols basketball game in February -- it was the first time he had been to Thompson-Boling Arena so that was fun for both of us.
This girl doesn't get to the dog park nearly enough (too cold or get home too late) but the water was high enough a couple of weeks ago to let her jump. . .and now it's gone back down again. . .but it was fun the one day.  Looking forward to summer and early sun and getting out to the park before work in the mornings.

Uncle Brad had a birthday and I finally found the shirt Stephen had picked out for him in August.  It's perfect though, right?
I'm having a hard time quitting this post now that I've started. . .this was JANUARY, believe it or not.  Laura had a College Showcase in Atlanta so we picked big brother up on the way down and had a really nice weekend together.

And really, the pictures, blessings, and memories go on and on. . .thanks for sticking with me (if you did) and letting me finally sit down and journal and really appreciate the relationships in my life.  April holds lots of tennis -- Stephen will be finishing up his HS year at the end of the month and then starting Junior Team Tennis in June and I am playing on a USTA spring team -- lot of soccer. . .Laura is doing "big" travel (team bus, hotels) with her club some in April and May and Erin's team has a couple more tournaments (the one in NC this weekend was canceled so it's like an unplanned free weekend!). . .Robert is wrapping up his first year away at college and coming home to work with Tom for a few weeks before heading to camp. . .and I will probably disappear again to get to work on my Series 63 exam ;)

I still try really, really hard to post Picture of the Day (I should probably aim to do more posts like that one) and stay in touch on Facebook.  Yes, I'm a FB user and really like keeping up that way. . .it's fun to watch my friend's lives unfold. . .and, in the case of this week, connect with a middle school friend over a collection of quarters and actually put something in the mail to her!!!  So cool. . .just like when we were 13 and my family moved from Columbus, Ohio to Dayton, Ohio and we would write letters back and forth. . .

Oh!  Speaking of. . .I have to share one last thing. . .how God works and puts people in our lives. . .and revives relationships. . .and. . .well. . .
The two guys on each side of me were my middle school friends (and their parents) who we moved away from in the fall of 1984.  Chad (the one in the striped sweater) and I have kept in touch on-and-off all this time. . .here we are at his brother's house (on the other side, he was in my sister's grade) the day after Christmas this year!!  Here are all of our kids, minus my two boys:
This was an incredible reunion.  To think we have known one another since we were the age of the youngest ones here. . .and that "long story" about how we ended up at Cedarville?  One of the boys in this picture attends school there and told Laura all about it and. . .well. . .that's how she even knew the school existed.  All from my sister's and my elementary/middle school friendship with this family in Columbus, OH, and how now one of the boys lives in the bordering suburb that my sister lives in near Cincinnati.  And I happened to get an e-Christmas card from the parents a day or so before Christmas, replied with a "are you going to be near my sister's house at all?", and finding out that yes, not only them, but their other son and his family too.  C-R-A-Z-Y good stuff!!!

Thanks for reading!  Onward and forward. . .!!!


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