Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Exchange Party Fun

I love hosting my annual cookie/ ornament exchange. It is such festive fun and a rare time to have all my Jonesboro friends all together. 

These girls all love an excuse to leave the kids at home and come visit, eat and score lots of cookies and a new ornament. I love hearing the laughter and excitement in the walls of our home. 

I always wonder how "dirty" the dirty Santa game will be, but it's usually not too bad. It's always funny to see that one friend who keeps losing her ornament. Luckily, it wasn't me this time! 

This year it was my beautiful and fun neighbor, Lindi. She got the bean bag on the floor and the brunt of the game. I loved that it was her though. It was fun and she's a great sport about it all. She did end up with a fun ornament in the end. 

My church friends and mamas make me feel so loved. I'm blessed with friends from several circles in Jonesboro. That ole saying about having a church family is truth. I pity those who do not have one. 

It's serious business when the cookies start getting swaped. This picture is perfect. I loved the sound and the excitement coming from that dining room. 

Having friends to be silly with is the greatest for a comical ole gal like me. I'm glad God sees fit to always surround me with those like myself no matter where I am in life. 

Oh, those cookies! If you don't attend an exchange at Christmas, come to mine or host one! You won't be disappointed. 

Abby Jo 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Walking In Memphis (running too)

It been forever since I have blogged. Over this festive holiday I have been chewed out by many for it. So, I'm making a vow to do better! I had no idea so many of you missed me :) Here is a recap of some of our happenings this past month in Memphis. We have been there every weekend for something or another since Thanksgiving. 

At the beginning of December we ran the St. Jude Half Marathon. We love Memphis and an excuse to run through it and to help the kids at St. Jude was a plus. We attempted it in 2013 but an ice storm the morning of the race prevented it. We were so glad to have perfect weather this time. 

At the race expo, the day before, we ran into some of our Mississippi Lee cousins. A family who runs together, stays together- ha! It was a fun surprise to see them. They are so much fun. 

My sweet man runs about 4 minutes faster per mile than me, so we did not run together... I would have died- ha! He was a great supporter though and helped me mentally prepare. His mental toughness is off the chart. I love him. 

He got a finish photo with a female Elvis. That's what happens when your wife runs slow I guess- ha! He had a great race and I did too. We both finished in the time we wanted, so it was a success. 

I love Memphis because it's where I fell in love with this man. I enjoyed a race with him but I can't promise I'll ever do it again. Big, crowded races are not for me. I did it and got the medal though! 

The Memphis Zoo is full of memories with family and friends. We met Anna and Dustin for dinner and Zoo Lights a few weeks before Christmas. They are our friends who own the sweet potato farm. Henry had so much fun with the camel  ride, riding the train, ice skating, and performing in the Magic Mr Nick show. We loved being with our friends making festive memories. It was their first married Christmas :) 

The Monday before Christmas we took this sweet boy to downtown Memphis for a greasy burger, a trip through the decorated  Peabody lobby and to FedEx Forum for our first NBA game.  

Watching the Memphis Grizzlies was fun and loud. We lasted 3 quarters and had to go. We were proud we made it that long :) 

Our seats were really good. We were surprised, actually. We bought them online at the very last minute. Henry loved it. 

Beale Street with my boys. It was all but closed this night so we felt it ok to walk Henry across it and look around at it. I love walking through Memphis with these boys.

Abby Jo 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Beavers Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! 

I'm a couple of days late, but we've been out of town having fun so I'm sure you'll forgive me. 

Thursday morning we left early and drove to Branson for the weekend. We met Stephen's parents at the world's largest Golden Corral for Thanksgiving dinner. This has become our typical Thanksgiving destination, and we don't mind it a bit. Most of us had steak, Anna had pizza, and all of us ate turkey. It isn't traditional but it's what works for us!

After lunch we headed to Silver Dollar City, but stopped first to pose in front of Ronald Reagan. Abby had sent a picture of Henry in front of this statue and we knew Stephen had to see it! This is Samuel and Lauren in front of our favorite president. (Lauren spent the weekend with us. This is her first Thanksgiving without her mom. We were grateful for the time she was able to spend with us. She is so sweet, and funny, mature, and beautiful.)

Stephen took quite a few pictures at Silver Dollar City both days we were there but I don't have them on my computer, Surprise!!  SDC was so much fun. They put lights on everything, it's very festive! There are so many fun things for kids to do, and the parade is really cool. I love SDC at night!

Anna loved calling everyone on the "real" phone at the hotel. She didn't know how to use it the first time, but then got the hang of it and we couldn't keep her off of it.

We shopped, ate, walked many a mile, shopped more, ate more, and watched a few football games.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on all God has given me and offers me time to return thanks to Him. There are many things I know I take for granted, the health of my children is one of them. There are so many children suffering with horrible illnesses, and as I sat outside the van door as Daniel threw up at my feet on our way home today, I was thankful. Thankful for my children who are otherwise healthy. I was also reminded to pray for the moms whose children are so very sick, my heart is tender for them tonight.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


I know these aren't the most fun posts, but they're fun for me to look back on. Thanks for indulging me!

In the great outdoors...It is so cold!! It was 30 degrees outside this morning and has snowed a bit in Little Rock overnight. Tomorrow nights football game is going to be brutal!

With thanksgiving,,lIts warm inside. Last week our heater was out and it was a little nippy inside. So, we're very thankful for our heater in these really cold temperatures!

Within our walls...We have been so busy the last couple of weeks. It seems like I've hardly been at home during the day. Hopefully things will slow down next week.

A heart of prayer...As you probably know, Samuel is dating a sweet girl who lost her mother in February.  It breaks my heart to think of her being 18 and a senior in high school without her mother. I pray for her a lot. I cry for her a lot also.

Random observations... I'm going heavy on the random on this one. I really dislike washing my hands in a public bathroom. When I raise them up to get a paper towel to dry them, the water from my hands runs down my arms and in the winter it makes me really cold. See, random!

My silly children...Stephen loves magic tricks and has shared this joy with Daniel and David. They are always shuffling cards and asking if I want to see a magic trick. They're getting pretty good, maybe I should hire them out for party's.

Thoughts from the kitchen...Luckily tonight I don't have to cook. The Pregnancy Resource Center is having their banquet tonight and I am helping with it, the kids are serving, and Stephen is working. Nothing is going on in the kitchen tonight. But....Abby shared her bread starter with me, and one of these days I'm supposed to feed it. I'm hoping she will tell me what to do soon.

What I'm reading...I have gotten a lot of free books for my Kindle lately. I'm reading one of those now. It's slow going.


Sounds of the moment...The boys are doing magic tricks, Anna is watching tv, and I have loads of laundry in the washer and dryer.

What I'm wearing...I worked today so I'm wearing jeans, my favorite Sanuck's, hot pink shirt, and black cardigan.

A favorite thing from this week...We had Henry last weekend. He was so good, and we had so much fun with him! He even got to go on the football field with us after the game. He wanted to know if the football players were nice. I guess thats a good question after spending 2 1/2 hours watching them hit each other!

He is just so cute!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Three Years

Three years ago today our family was shell-shocked. We were scared, confused, abandoned, hurt. We felt fearful, heart-broken and lost. 

Today, Stephen preached at a friend's church and during the service, they called all of us to the front and prayed over us. People left their pews, circled around us, laid their hands on us, and prayed. I couldn't help but think how far we've come. 

Three years ago we received so many sweet words, prayers, notes, gifts, visits, and even offers to beat up a few Baptist deacons and their wives! Those things got us through some rocky months. But more than anything, the comfort we received from the Lord reassured us that we were loved and cared for by Him. He saw our pain, He knew our pain, and He loved us. 

Jesus redeemed our lostness, our pain, our worry, and our sadness. One of Samuel's favorite songs when we was a toddler said, "I'm trading my sorrow, I'm trading my shame, I'm trading them all for the joy of the Lord." Oh people, we have done that! We have traded all of the happenings that day for all the goodness of the Lord. 

I'm not saying we are where we want to be. We're not. I'm not saying we are perfectly content and happy all the time. We're not. But we are working hard at doing what the Lord wants for us. 

Time does help heal wounds, but the Lord does quite an awesome job at it too!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Halloween Fun

Halloween week was festive around here. We went to a pumpkin patch with some friends from church. Henry loved the hayride and corn maze. 

We make a cute ghostly looking pair! It was so hot that night it was unbearable, really. Mosquitoes drove us out of there quickly.

Memphis Zoo Boo was the best halloween fun we've had in years. The lady working the Panda exhibit said "we have candy and dancing inside" and I replied loudly, "yeah, you do!" And my crew almost died from laughing in embarrassment. Randall took these of us dancing it up with the pandas! 

We meet our friends there and enjoyed being with them and making new memories with our kiddos. 

This is us with Mandy and Charlie about 10 years ago and now. We have such fun times together. I'm so glad they moved back to the midsouth. 

 Elvis made his grand appearance at trunk or treat and was a hit! He would take off his wig all the time because he was so afraid everyone would really think it was Elvis and not Henry! I made him put it back on quickly because he looked like Elton john with just those glasses on! Ha 

I love my little family and the endless fun we have together. 

Our trunk or treat is also our church's annual agriculture appreciation day. We live in the delta. It's what we do. Henry and his lifelong friend √Član were testing out the vintage Allis Chalmers tractor together. 

Halloween morning was spirit day at school. Henry loves his new school pullover. I loved my porch decor and he really added to it! 

I was head of his class party....but of course! Lol. It was such great fun. We LOVE his teacher so much.  His friends are so sweet and they are such fun to watch in their classroom. I enjoyed meeting some of the moms in the class too. 

Halloween night was cold! Henry was tired and it was a challenge. We powered through it for a while. We got together with our friends at two different houses on the same street and then trick or treated as a group for a while until Randall told Henry it was time for Elvis to leave the building and get to bed! Parenting is not for the faint of heart! 

Abby Jo 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Weekend Recap Part 2

I'm finally at a stopping point in my week to tell you about the rest of our weekend. See, what I mean about being busy all of the sudden!

Friday night, David and Daniel were at Judgement House, and Anna had wrangled a way to stay at her friends house while we we went to Samuel's football game. We usually take Lauren with us, but she decided to stay home and study for the ACT she and Samuel were both taking the next morning at 8:00. Smart girl.

The game was in Magnolia, which is a good two hours away. Stephen and I were alone so we decided to stop by our favorite south Arkansas restaurant in El Dorado, MELS. (All caps are how they write the name.) We enjoyed the best gumbo and bacon wrapped shrimp ever. In. The. World.

We made it to Magnolia in time to watch all the pre game warm-ups. We don't usually get to a game early, so it was fun to watch. The game was a defensive battle. I usually text mom, dad, and Charlie (Stephen's dad) with game updates. This game they got a text after the quarters. Nothing happened. No score. During the third quarter Samuel kicked a field goal that would have put us up 3-0 but he missed it. We weren't able to score and neither were they so at the end of regulation the game was 0-0. 

So, here we go into overtime. Magnolia had the ball first, didn't make a touchdown, and their field goal was blocked. We didn't make a touchdown, and Samuel's (Joseph Valient again) kick wasn't good. There is a little controversy about it, but the refs said no good.

Second overtime, we got the ball first, didn't score a touchdown, and Samuel's kick wasn't good. Magnolia fumbled and we went to the third overtime. 

My nerves at this point were shot. I needed a paper bag to breathe in. All the parents around me were just as nervous for me.

The third overtime, Magnolia gets the ball first and they don't score a touchdown and their kick is bad! Oh my! We get the ball, don't make a touchdown, and now Samuel has to kick a field goal. I stood up this time. The other two times, I sat down and tried to breathe. This time I continued to ask God to give him a Facing the Giants moment, and I stood up. And when that kick went through the uprights, and the refs arms went up, I jumped and screamed. I'm pretty sure you heard me wherever you were, oh my goodness! We all went crazy! The players ran and jumped around Samuel, coaches were high fiving and yelling. It was one of those scenes that you see on TV and you jump up and down in your living room! Crazy good!

Samuel's name was in the Pine Bluff paper, and the AR Democrat Gazette twice over the weekend. And only written as Joseph once! We gave him the weekend to celebrate, and wouldn't you know it he was mentioned in another article yesterday. It's funny, that we don't talk about the three kicks he missed, just the one he made. But, that's how we like to relive the memory!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekend Recap Part 1

The lazy slow summer has come to an end, and a busy fall has begun. We're going in all directions and having a good time. We're so busy that I need to get my hair done and won't be able to until the week after next. That is not good news!

David and Daniel are actors in Judgement House at a local church. Judgement House is a play that is set in eight scenes, following characters through life changing decisions. This year David played an angel in Judgement. 

He dressed as an angel and was to stand stoicly and not smile. He said not smiling was going to be difficult, since his "natural face" was to smile. Which made me laugh! His natural face is a frown, much like mine. Not that we aren't happy, just that we don't always smile, we've laughed a lot the last two weeks about his "natural face." In his costume, he stands barefoot, and one lady told him he had perfect toes. Perfect toes! 

Daniel played one of the lead roles in Judgement House. He had MANY lines to memorize and was in four of the eight scenes. He did so good. He was nervous, but I couldn't really tell it when I saw him. He's a real natural at acting. He didn't share the Gospel in his lines, but he did speak of a relationship with Jesus and how Jesus can fill the empty spots in your life, and that Jesus was a friend that sticks closer than a brother,

Judgement House lasted for six days, about 1000 people went through and many made life changing decisions. I love that David and Daniel wanted to be part of such a Gospel driven ministry. It was hard work and long hours but they loved it. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall fun with friends, fields and pie!

Nothing like a little away time with the best friend and some sweet old college buddies thrown into the mix. Melissa and I had an overnight getaway in Little Rock last weekend. I met up with Paige and our friend Courtney for lunch on Friday before Melissa and I met at the hotel to get our weekend started. We went to a Kari Jobe concert and then ate at all our fave places and shopped for Bibles for our boys, clothes for our fine bodies and dreaming of Christmas at Hallmark. We are a lively pair and we love it like that ;) I am so blessed to have Melissa as my forever best friend.  I can't imagine doing life without her. She is always constant, loving and accepting. I love that girl! 

Henry got to stay with Nana and Papa while I was gone because Randall was harvesting. Henry got to pay a visit to the plot closest to our house though and Randall took these cute pictures of our big guy. Henry adores his daddy and his work. 

Fall fun is in full swing around here. Henry is out of school Friday so we will visit a pumpkin patch that day. We have a Sunday School party at a local pumpkin patch Saturday night and trunk or treat at church on Sunday. Next week I'm heading up the Halloween party at his school and we have Halloween trick or treat fun on Halloween . Henry is going as Elvis! 

With fall comes baking. Henry's sweet teacher let each of them dig seeds out of a pumpkin and then seved pumpkin pie one day last week. Henry came home praising the pie she made and said we needed to make one with "that cinnamon". We decided to make one today after school. I opened everything for him and he poured and stirred himself. He cracked the eggs too. We baked it and then we put spray whipped topping on our piece that we shared . It was fantastic yummy fall fun. Anything with spray whipped topping is fantastic, according to Henry! 

Abby Jo 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Week Late

Last Saturday was Samuel's 17th birthday. We had plans to spend the day in Little Rock eating where he wanted, going where he wanted to go. Just celebrating Samuel.


We had a large storm Friday night during the football game. Lightning caused the game to be postponed at halftime. While we were glad to get to go home instead of sitting out in the rain, we weren't excited about the make-up time for the game.

Samuel had to be at the field house for pre-game Saturday at 1:00, and the game was at 6:00. So, we didn't get to celebrate him like we had planned. We did make a quick trip to Little Rock to get his birthday presents and eat his 2nd choice for lunch, and then rushed back for him to get to practice. 

Whew it was quite a morning, but I spent the afternoon in my bed naping. I think that was the best way to celebrate giving birth. I could have really used an epidural! 

We're proud of the person Samuel is. He isn't afraid of a challenge, loves life and people. He makes good decisions, chooses good friends and desires to be who God wants to be. I know that he's a 17 year old boy and believe me, he acts like one. But, we're proud of him!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Running, Boxes, Boots and Bedtime Fun

Randall and I are training for the St Jude Half Marathon in December. We did this last year and an ice storm blanketed the midsouth on race weekend. They cancelled it. Randall ran 13.1 on the treadmill on race day to say he did it. I didn't!  I was bummed and stopped running for the winter and spring months. This year I'm hoping for a dry race weekend so I can finally run the course I have earned!  Henry wants to run with us so we will often have him join at the end of a run as we cool down. He loves it and it's a sneaky way to get him in great shape!
 I am running mine alone this year. Last year my running buddy and I trained together in hopes to run it together. This year she can't do it but she runs 3 or 4 miles with me when she can. It's mentally challenging doing it alone but it makes me stronger and pushes me more to think smart and stay healthy. Randall runs faster than me and does his own training. We are a good team and run best on our own. Yet we are great at taking turns on who does long  runs and when. I tend to do all mine on weekdays before the sun comes up. He does his during the day or on weekends. Opposites attract! ;) 

We are gearing up for the season of giving. I want this child to be a giver so I'm trying to lead by example and get him involved. We are blessed with way more than we deserve and we need to share with others. We packed our shoeboxes this past weekend. Henry wanted to keep some of the stuff and had a fit or two but we finally got them packed up and ready to send off in a few weeks. Slowly he will grow into a giver I think. ;) 


This child got his first pair of new, big boy boots a few weeks ago. No one prepared me for the cost of such boots. Whew. Daddy knew and wasn't shocked but boy, I was. Anyway, he loves them and he looks just like Randall's mini me in them! His Sunday School teacher owns the boot store in our town. She hooked Randall up with a pair too. They both walked out with new boots on their feet and a smile. We love Mrs. Karen and love supporting her business. 

This guy loves some pajamas and his big ole make believe bucket . Bedtime can get real interesting at our house! I love Henry's energy and excitement for life. As his pre-k teacher Mrs. Julie says, "his enthusiasm for life is infectious!" Indeed, it is. I'm blessed to be his mama. 

Abby Jo 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Decorating Fun

I love an excuse to throw a party and decorate. The agent I work directly with is having a baby in a few weeks. We threw he and his wife a shower last week and I was I charge of decor. I loved having the pumpkin theme to use. 

The other ladies helped prepare the food and did a wonderful job. I enjoy throwing a party with good help. I hope there are more excuses for a shower or celebration at our office! 

I was so ready to decorate for fall at home. Henry and I took "old truck" to get hay, pumpkins and mums on the afternoon before fall officially rang in its fine self. We were set and ready to usher it on in! 

Here is a funny story: I picked Henry up from school in the "old truck" (which is actually newer than my car, but Henry has named it "old truck" because it was an old work truck Randall bought from his company to have to haul stuff around here. It is just a basic ole white Chevy pick up truck that smells like a mens locker room and sort of floats when you drive down the road. We listen to Sammy Kershaw and Joe Diffee's greatest hits in it. It's real clean and good redneck fun!) I don't  drive it often, as you can imagine.  So, here I am waiting in carline at Valley View in my ole pickup truck listening to Sammy sing about a working woman's holiday....and here comes Henry running out with his friends to stand in line, 6 cars ahead of me and he literally screamed with excitement while standing in carline when he spotted me. He was dancing and jumping up and down. I could hear him well through the music and half rolled down windows. His teacher had to rub his head and calm him down. He was excited beyond excited. I wanted to die right there in that truck. It was hilarious and most embarrassing as he yelled over and over, "that's my old truck! My mamas in THE old truck!" If it was an antique, cool looking truck that would have been fine, but it's not old and it's certainly not cool. I'm literally laughing as I type this. Picture it and laugh with me. Here I am sandwiched between a new Range Rover and an a huge Infiniti SUV with this child screaming like he's getting picked up in a Bentley. I love my humble baby! ;) 

So, tis the time of year to have excuses to decorate and drive "old truck"'s my favorite time of the year!!

Abby Jo