I know I said I wasn't going to put pressure on myself to blog every single thing, but I do want to fill in the gaps just a little bit. I did take a SEVEN month break! So here goes...
Shane went to Africa in July, and while he was there Nana and Papa came out to Texas! They arrived on July 4th and we spent the evening at one of our local festivals eating lots of yummy food, playing games and watching fireworks. The kids absolutely LOVE spending time with them.
While they were here Nana took Kallie to the American Girl store and bought her a doll for her birthday (which wasn't until September, but it was a good excuse to go!) Kallie loves her doll, Kit. Nana has since made them lots of matching clothes.
Here's Papa and Luke at the Rainforest Cafe.
A few weeks after they left, we packed up and headed to Florida for vacation! God has been so good to us, and even though we are what seems like a million miles away from our families, we seem to get to see them enough to have wonderful memories and sweet relationships. We got to spend lots of time with cousins, and I'm so thankful that my kids get to enjoy them a few times a year! Hannah and Charis are such sweet girls and we love watching them grow.
The kids enjoyed the beach of course! We couldn't ask for a better place to visit. Nana and Papa's house is so much fun! Grammy and Pops spoil them too.
But I would definitely say that the highlight of our vacation was getting to spend a whole week at Disney!!!!! We usually just go visit family when we're on vacation, and while that is wonderful, we never go anywhere just-the-five-of-us. We just hate wasting time that we could spend with family. But this year we decided it was definitely time. And it was AMAZING. We totally wore ourselves out, but it was sooooooo worth it. We did everything - all the parks, character meals, extra magic hours, parades, fireworks, a Disney resort ... it really was a magical vacation.
As soon as we got back from Florida it was time for school to start! This year Seth started 3rd grade and Kallie started kindergarten. I can't believe we have two kids in school! We all walked to school together on the first day. They were both so excited, but especially Kallie. We could tell she was really going to love it, and we were right. Her birthday is September 16th, so she is one of the oldest in her class. She waited such a long time for this day!
Kallie celebrated her 6th birthday in September, and we had a little after-school surprise party for her. She is such a joy. I remember the day we found out we were having a little girl. I was so incredibly happy and overwhelmed with excitement. Kallie has a huge heart, a sweet smile, a silly laugh, and a childlike innocence about her that is just precious. She is not into 'things', she doesn't care if the plans change, she doesn't really care what anyone thinks, she just wants to love and to be loved. And she wants to enjoy everything in the process.
She started ballet this year and really seems to be enjoying it. We had made it an entire year without a broken arm and decided it was safe to try something a little active. We also hoped that it would encourage a little grace and coordination, because boy does she need some of that!
Seth picked up a new activity as well and started flag football. Daddy helped out with a little of the coaching. The 'Texas Tornadoes' didn't exactly pull off a ton of wins, but they definitely had fun and didn't stress about it. Seth thinks he'd like to play football again next year. Daddy thinks he may have the skills to be a decent quarterback ... we'll see!
Luke started preschool again, and this year he's in Mrs. Brenda's 3-year-old class. Luke absolutely loves the social interaction and we feel very blessed to have such a wonderful school he can enjoy while Mommy gets a little work done!
October was a fun month for us! Of course the kids love pumpkins, dressing up, and our church's Trunk-or-Treat. And I loved leading our ladies retreat where we learned about how we are treasured to God!
We spent Thanksgiving with sweet friends and even cooked all of the food ourselves! And over the break Shane tiled our entryway and did a fabulous job. Now if we could only get to work on the other 999 jobs on our home improvement to-do list.
Christmas was absolutely wonderful! We had our Christmas Eve service at church, and one of the highlights for me was getting to direct our kids choir. Seth read part of the Christmas story and Kallie sang a little solo. Those kids captured my heart. I loved every second of it. As soon as the service was over we hopped in the car to head to Florida! It snowed in Texas on Christmas Eve and getting out of town was a little more hazardous than expected, but we made it! The kids opened presents at our house that morning and then had about 4 more Christmases in Florida with family. I don't think they even know that Christmas is just one single day. It lasted about a week for us!
Papa is the best Santa EVER! And I don't think any of the kids cried this year.
The Taylor/Johns talent show has become an annual event. I wish I could say that the quality of this event is going up every year, but alas, it is not. Fun? Yes. Well-rehearsed? Not so much. The "matching" Christmas pajamas are less-and-less matching every year too. Oh well, we loved every second of it all!
I think the highlight of the trip for Shane and Seth was getting to go see FSU in the Gator Bowl. It was Bobby Bowden's last game and Seth's first college game. I think he is hooked.
While the boys were at the game, the rest of the family scattered in a bunch of different directions leaving Mom and me at home with Kallie and Luke. We decided we weren't going to just sit around, and so on New Year's Eve we spontaneously decided to drive to Orlando and spend New Year's Day at Disney World! We both love adventure and how can you go wrong with Disney?! Luckily, the park was pretty empty and we walked right onto most of the rides.
Whew, I guess that's one way to blog...cramming 7 months into one post! Life is so full. It's not without its challenges and struggles, and actually it's pretty crazy and exhausting at times, but we've learned that time spent loving on our family is time we'll never regret. The Lord is good, and we are so grateful for His blessings.