Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our Sweet Girl Turns 6!

Good morning Birthday Girl!

The much wished for- Ivy

Matching Dresses

Receiving her Birthday Crown from her teacher and hearing her class sing Happy Birthday

Enjoying cupcakes with her class and dear friend Claire

Posing with some of the items she was able to purchase for St. Jude

Miss Vilma and Lily Grace

Lily Grace in the St. Jude Santa Room: This is where St. Jude nurses and employees come to get items for the patients.  This room is stocked by donations. 
Today our sweet girl celebrated her 6th birthday! She's had quite the special day. Like every birthday, it started with breakfast in bed. Lily Grace gets so excited about trying to fiqure out what special foods I will serve each year.  This year she enjoyed homemade chocolate chip waffles and fresh strawberries. 
After breakfast she opened a few gifts. She got a new American Girl doll, Ivy and a dress to match Ivy thanks to Gran. She wasted no time trying it on and declared herself, "cute." And all of this before 6:15. 
 Daddy and I drove her to school where we attended the Wednesday school mass with her and then back to her classroom for cupcakes. I enjoyed reading to her class as well.
 After school, she received another donation for St. Jude. We stopped and got two gift cards off the donation list before making our way down to the St. Jude donation center. This brought her final total raised from her party to $285. 
Once at St. Jude, we were met by a lovely woman named Vilma. She graciously accepted Lily Grace's donations and showed us around a bit. Lily Grace was all smiles and so proud.  Matt and I were humbled and more aware and grateful than ever for our sweet girl's health and well being as Miss Vilma shared a story of one of the patients. Miss Vilma also presented Lily Grace with a special St. Jude Doctor Bear. 
Thank you again to everyone who donated and helped create this wonderful lesson of service for Lily Grace. Our family has been touched by the experience that you helped create.   
Thanks also to all the family and friends who have sent cards, gifts and called Lily Grace today.  You made her day extra special.  
God is amazing! Sometimes He works through even the youngest. Lily Grace, Your love for God is ever growing and your kind spirit is ever steady. Daddy and I are so proud of you and most thankful for the blessing of you. Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Birthday: Art Party

This year's art themed cake was as yummy as it was cute.  Lily Grace chose Strawberry cake with strawberry filling.  

Lily Grace and I had the best time making these chocolate dipped pretzel crayons.


Lily Grace with Mrs. Meredith

Out go the candles

It was a beautiful afternoon for having fun outside.

Shopping for St. Jude
 Her final total for St. Jude

This year Lily Grace enjoyed an Art theme for her birthday party.  We had so much fun.  Our good friend Mrs. Meredith lead the children in painting a Panda canvas as well as a frame and a large keepsake canvas for Lily Grace.  She was awesome.  Lily Grace just adores her and tells everyone that she's a "real artist."  She is an awesome artist and an elementary art teacher which makes her an all around wonderful person to work with.  She made Lily Grace's party so special and will never know how much it meant to us to have her do Lily Grace's last party here in the house we have called home.  Meredith thank you so much.  You are amazing!  Thanks also to Miss Melissa who was so kind in helping Meredith and all the kids who attended.  
We entertained more kids this year than in past years and it was just plain fun!!  
Lily Grace did things a little differently this year.  At school, she has learned a great deal about serving others and it's something we try to stress around here.  It's what God calls us to do.  And with that said, back in January when we started talking about this year's party, Lily Grace said that she would like to do something for others and so the idea was born.  This year, instead of gifts, Lily Grace asked guest to bring in donations for St. Jude's Children's research hospital.  We made sure she understood what she was asking and supported and praised her choice.  Her guest were most gracious and she raised $255 from her party.  
Several weeks ago I called St. Jude and they sent me an extensive list of donations that they are always in need of.  After church today, we took Lily Grace to Target and let her shop for whatever items she wanted off the list.  Daddy kept a total for her and she took such care and pride in what she was doing.  
Her actual birthday is on Wednesday and after school, Matt and I will drive her down to St. Jude to deliver all the items she was able to purchase.  Thank you so very much to all of our party guest for being so generous and for helping to teach our little girl about doing for others.  
Thanks for the gifts and thinking of her.  You all are too sweet!  
Thank you all for attending and making our last party here a very, very special one.  
Lily Grace, Daddy and I can't believe that you are so close to being 6 years old and at times, we can't believe that you are only 6.  You have a wonderful spirit and love for God.  We pray that both of those things grow each birthday.  

Star of the Week!

Cool Cat came for a visit and Molly managed to show some restraint

Standing with her poster she made to tell about herself

So proud to have Daddy read to her class

This past week Lily Grace was the Star of the Week at school.  She had the best time and stayed very busy.  She shared a poster about herself, was the Scientist for the Day, keeper of the Guessing Jar, shared a special Show and Tell, welcomed home the class mascot Cool Cat for the week and on Friday was the Chef of the Day.  She cooked up S'mores for  her class.  Daddy took off work to go and eat lunch with her and read to the class.  She had a wonderful week and we  had so much fun sharing in her excitement.  

So Sweet!

Two dear ladies from our church who have watched Lily Grace grow up surprised her with an Easter basket filled with goodies.  Among those goodies was this adorable dress.  Lily Grace couldn't wait to wear it.  
What a special and thoughtful gift.  Thank you Mrs. Susan and Mrs. Sherri.  We adore both of you!

CT House Hunting and the Mystic Aquarium

Lily Grace loves playing on the town Green

Strolling the shops around the town square

Matt  being a very bad influence

The Baby Belugas were adorable and just amazing to watch.

Sting Ray touch tank

One of Lily Grace's favorite aquarium exhibits was the Jellyfish

From bad to worse...he shouldn't have jumped on that bed    

We visited CT last week to look for a new house.  Let me just say, there was never a dull moment. 
Lily Grace was armed with her pink paint chips for when we found THE house (She wants her new room to be painted pink.) and I had my checklist and a bundle of nerves.  Matt, well he was Matt.  He had his number scenarios and documentation and yes, a few nerves.  (His nerves stemmed from worry about how my nerves may take it all.)
I was feeling ok about it as I had two top contenders I had seen on the internet and just knew one of these was the house for us.  I also felt really good about our realtor Jane who I selected via the internet because she looked really nice and she was wearing pink in her picture so Lily Grace concurred with my decision.  I had talked with her on the phone previous to our visit and she and Matt had even gone to see a few houses and Skyped me on the walk through. (And just for the record, Lily and I made a great choice, Jane is very funny, honest and nice.  Lily Grace is smitten with her.)
Well, Lily Grace and I armed with our cameras entered the first house and SHOCK.  It's a very different housing market in that the homes aren't brick and they usually fall into two styles, colonial or cape cod.  They are also much older as new construction is not prominent there.  You also get much more yard, trees and the things that really make a home feel welcoming.  You also get a well and septic.  Heat is usually oil or electric and it is delivered by baseboard vents around each room.  Most homes don't have air conditioners as they aren't really needed and yes, the cost of living is BIG.  One thing you may find interesting, just as we did is that it's actually hard to find a house without a pool.  Yes people, as in swimming pool.  Don't ask me because I am still puzzled.  I have lived in the South my whole life and always wanted but never had a  swimming pool.  We are now moving to the northeast, don't want a pool and having a hard time finding a house without one.  But again, I tell you, the yards, land and overall environment make it all.  It's beautiful.  The towns seem to move at a bit of a slower pace and each town revolves around the town Green.  The Green is a big deal.  Shops and quaint restaurants surround the Green and families can be seen there playing, picnicking and meeting for a town event.  I have to say, I think it's going to be a wonderful place to raise a family.  
But back to the house hunt... photos are also deceiving as top house choice number one seemed to be a little less than I had hoped.  We moved on throughout the day and found THE house, even though it had a pool and needed a few updates.  We made an offer and had closed the deal by dinner.  We scheduled the appropriate inspections and felt so good about it, that Lily Grace and I took a day off to visit the nearby Mystic Aquarium.  It was awesome and home to Baby Beluga Whales.
Then came inspection day.  About 3 hours into the inspections we learn of major issues and one of which involved termite damage to a major joist.  
We were so torn and heartbroken, but knew it was best to walk away and so we did.  
And things just continued to go down hill.  Let's see...the hotel water stopped in the middle of a shower where I had Lily Grace all shampooed up, Matt's suitcase broke and the topper which finally just led to laughter, Lily Grace's ginger ale (Yes my friends I let her have ginger ale, have you been reading this post... my nerves were shot.) in the airport restaurant on the way home when she dropped it and it went all over Matt.  He was covered and had to ride home on the plane in wet jeans.  I of course had to take out my iPhone and document this trip disaster.  
Needless to say, we still don't have a house in CT.  We will fly back next week to try again.  
Please say a little prayer for us.  Again, we just know that God has this all planned out and OUR house is there.  

Big News: From TN to CT

This house holds so many special memories.

First flight since coming home from China...on our way to visit CT for the fist time 

CT shorline

We’re good, but about to undergo a HUGE change.  We are moving, and not just across town, but 1,177 miles away.  We are moving to CT.  That’s right!  Believe me when I tell you that the shock still hasn’t worn off around here. 
As most of you know, we moved to TN 15 years ago.  Matt was offered a job in nearby AR right out of college as the Engineering Manager for the company he is still at today.  From there he was promoted to manager of technology and that led to him taking over as the General Manager.  He has been promoted again and will now take the role as General Manager of Operations.  Our family is most thankful for the blessing of this job.  It has been very good to us and Matt genuinely enjoys the people he works with.  It’s been a steady place for him to learn, grow and provide for our family.  Thanks be to God!
While we are nervous about the move (ok…this southern girl is scared to death and it’s even more worrisome with a little one), we know that God has a plan for our family.  It’s like we explained to Lily Grace, if we don’t do this, we may miss out on the wonderful things that God has planned for us.  We’ve also been focusing on all the blessings this brings to our family.  As many of you know, Matt makes a commute of 77 miles one way each day.  That’s one hour and fifteen minutes in the car each way.  And yes, that’s a lot of gas.  Matt has made this drive, even getting up at 3:45 each morning so that he can be in the office bright and early to leave out by 5:30 each day, without complaint.  He has however lost valuable family time and opportunities to enjoy the small things like lunch with Lily Grace at school, or making it in time for an afternoon soccer game.  But again, he does it without complaint.  
One of the biggest positives with this move, Matt will be only 15 minutes from home and school.  His commute will go to about 10 miles.  We can actually have dinner before 6:30 and yes; he can now enjoy those small things like lunch at school with his little girl.  Thanks be to God!  
We recently made a trip to the area and it is very different from what I am used to.  We now live in  a pretty big city and I must admit I have gotten very settled in it.  I’m also a creature of habit and this will only be the third time I have moved and never out of the south.  I am however looking forward to living on the shoreline; an hour train ride into NYC and visiting Canada with just a 6-hour car ride. (Lily Grace and I have already planned a trip to NYC to try and get on the Today Show.  As I told my cousin, we will be the two nuts yelling for the camera to pan on us outside the plaza and Lily Grace will be waving a sign that reads, “Hey Y’all!”  We know where we are from. HA!)  This opportunity affords us more family time and that is what we are most thankful for and looking forward too. Thanks be to God! 
Lily Grace is taking it ok.  She is pretty excited right now about the new experiences that are available and will most likely take it harder when we leave the only home she has known and the only friends she’s spent so many play dates with.  We remind her that one of the reasons it seems so scary is because we haven't done it before and we will all have to go and make new friends and learn new routines.  We recently made our first trip to CT for a week to get Lily Grace enrolled in school for next term.  She will continue to go to parochial school and really took to the new school and to everyone.  She loved CT and said she was a little sad when it was time to fly back home, but again, she is running on new exciting adventures and I know her little heart will long for those sweet friends that she loves spending time with, so please keep her in your prayers during this big transition.  We have made such dear friends here in TN and think of you more as family. 
Please keep our family in your prayers as we prepare to sell our home, go to find a new one in CT and say goodbye.  You have no idea how much we will miss TN and all of you. Our families will now be more than a car ride away (unless you have 10hrs+ for two straight days in the car) and that is a bit tough as well.  
Lily Grace and I are so proud of Matt and again, we are so blessed and thank God for this opportunity.  All things happen through Him. 
Take care and if you are ever in the neighborhood...