Monday, February 2, 2015

New Jersey Assignment

We have been living in New Jersey for 5 months already. Time has flown by with the help of all the holidays, birthdays, and short trips to visit family on the east coast. Michael has been doing a fantastic job of operating his store. They've been reaching goals and breaking records for this particular location. He really likes the opportunity that this Chick-fil-A growth market offers to serving the local community as well as the people here. But let's be honest, Michael can make friends everywhere he goes and can fit right in. 

We have met all kinds of people, tried out so many new restaurants, driven all over the state and surrounding states, and have connected with a local family here who we love so much and will hopefully be friends with forever.

My favorite part of living in New Jersey is definitely our close proximity to New York City. We have spent many Sundays in the city and made it over for a few date nights with our cousins Caroline and Hewitt. How lucky are we right now?! We can drive into NYC within 35 minutes on the weekend. It's amazing. We've driven our car most every time and have had no trouble finding street spots. Michael loves the crazy driving of the city. I tend to get scared and sink down into the passenger seat and try not to watch. I know Carmen and Brooks are probably too young, but I do hope that Carmen has memories of driving down Broadway, walking around the Rockefeller Center at Christmas time, playing in Central Park and driving through the Lincoln Tunnel just like Buddy the Elf.

This past year has been full of new adventures, first and lasts, new hellos and sad goodbyes, packing/moving/leaving/unpacking/resettling and we feel like we have grown and learned so much as a family and as a businessman. Some of the fun, more tangible things we've experienced have been
- Living in many different types of homes and neighborhoods
- Experiencing different cities and cultures
- Being a part of many churches and seeing how things are done differently but with the same passion and purpose
- Driving all types of cars, which has been a fun way of trying out cars to see which ones we like the best when the time comes to buy a new one. We've driven a Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain, Ford F150, Ford Edge, Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, and a Chevy Tahoe. By far our favorites have been the F150 and the Tahoe. I'm currently driving the massive Tahoe around Jersey and have become quite the expert at parking and navigating through small spaces.

I have been able to work some shifts in the store too. I started out cleaning and hosting in the dinning area as well as taking orders at the cash register. I really like interacting with guests - probably because I'm home all day with the toddlers - but good customer service and relations are a huge chunk of what I miss about running my wedding business.

We know that we are assigned to this same location in Jersey for the month of February, so if you want to come visit us act quickly because this month will fly by! And yes, we still love eating Chick-fil-A as much as we can.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

After 9 Months in Texas, We Are Off...

to New Jersey! 

(Some folks down here don't actually know where Jersey is located. Gosh, I love Texas!)

We just found out that Michael's next assignment begins on September 1st in Woodbridge Township, NJ. Quite the change from our tour of Texas. We are excited for many reasons but mostly because this move puts us in close proximity to sooo many people we love and can't wait to see. We really don't know anything else at this point. We aren't even sure how we're getting there. Or where we're living. But it'll be fun and we'll make some more memories!

I can already taste the fancy food of NYC, see the pretty Jersey Shore sunsets, and imagine changing up my limited 4 shirt wardrobe by adding colorful scarfs. I also fully anticipate missing Texas. North Texas. I would love to have lived in Austin or Houston for a little while too, but at least I know we could be happy in Dallas.

I don't even know where to begin to catch you up on the last several months here in Plano so maybe I'll leave you with a video: A glimpse of a bedtime dance party on a yoga mat that's never once been used for yoga with giggles, tears, half-braided pigtails, no pants and frightening awesome dance moves by Michael

Friday, June 6, 2014

There are a lot of changes going on in our surrounding worlds. Sometimes it's overwhelming to think about but other times it is such a good reminder that nothing is permanent and it can be unhealthy to hold so tightly to earthly things. Here are some highlights, good and bad, from this past week:

1. On Tuesday night I got word that one of my closest friend's father suddenly passed away. It is devastating. This shouldn't happen to us yet. My heart is aching to be with her but there was no way to get me home for the weekend. I know he went to be with our Heavenly Father but there is so much sadness still on this side of eternity.

2. On a lighter, happier note, Brooks is growing up so fast. He is really showing his smarts - he seems to understand us more, dances, claps and plays the piano, he tries taking steps to walk, he imitates noises I make at him, and he screams oh-so-loud at night when he wants me. Some day I will sleep through the night again.

3. Michael and I celebrated our 7th Wedding Anniversary on Monday, June 2nd! We went to dinner last night just the two of us and it was glorious! Oh and Michael totally spoiled me and is giving me a trip to a spa out here. Fancy.

See? No kids in the car!

We had a lovely, precious time together and I ate more than I have in three years. I think having kids in a restaurant is better for my health.

4. We finally made it out to the Perot Museum and it is fantastic! Actually, so fantastic that we got a membership. Should have done that back in February, now we'll probably move in July. 

5. My parents put their house on the market this week in preparation for a total life change! It's exciting and scary and happy and sad all at the same time. I can write more on this later but I'm sure it will come out in other future posts as their life continues to change as well. 

A little over a week until my youngest sister flies out to visit us for a couple weeks! I simply cannot wait to have her company, share fun memories with her and have some help playing with the babies together. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Plano, TX for June

Got the word a week ago that we are staying right here in Plano, TX for the month of June. Same store, same apartment, same town - this makes the 5th month in a row. The consistency has been great for Michael in the store and for the kids at home. I'd be open to a little more change (as in a little closer to y'all back east) but I am so thankful we are getting to stay in a place like Dallas. I really do love it here.

Here are some picture updates of things we've done in the past month and a half:

Went to a Ranger's game in the Chick-fil-A suite with our other IM friend's in the DFW area

Sweet Grayson is the son of our friends Steven and Chrissy. Carmen loves hanging out with him.

We've been going out to dinner a lot more than we should but the evenings are just so pretty here and there are restaurants with patios all over the place. We love to find places where Carmen can have dinner entertainment so that Michael and I can catch up over the meal. In this case, it's dirt:

Michael's good friend in the IM Program, Andrew, came to visit for a day. Carmen loved having him stay with us and for whatever reason renamed him "Devin." Devin is a great guy!

Michael rekindled our Saturday morning donut drive. Ain't no one here complaining.

We traveled home for a fast 2 day trip. Aunt Sarah is home from Africa and got to meet Brooks for the first time!

We got in a few ours with some of our favorites. Reid and Brooks are best buds.

We finally were reunited with our beloved Farris family! Bret and Ashley stopped in on their way home to Houston and we met baby girl Rylie for the first time. She is dreamy and fits right in with her older brothers. Carmen seriously loves her time with those boys.

We still visit the store regularly. Brooks had his first waffle fry at 9 months old. My standards are way lower this time around. He also gets licks of my ice cream any time we have it. Sometimes Carmen just eats fries for lunch. Oops. However shall my children survive?!

Oh, look. More ice cream.

She's a mess! But we give them baths every night. Despite what the pictures above show, we don't get to see friends much. I just don't take pictures of our lonely days. And well, it's really hard to make friends in a living situation like this. We try though! We go to our community group on Sundays, I take her to play dates organized by the church. I try and make conversation with other moms at parks and libraries but it's just not the same as living somewhere permanently. I've realized how hard it is to break into established circles of people groups. It's giving me a new, fresh perspective on how to love people and go out of my way to include those "on the fringe." Next time we put down roots I hope to be able to bring these experiences with me and always be one to have open arms for those new folks in town. 

Carmen regularly asks to go to Nonni and Bri's house (my parent's home). That's always so tough for me because I simply can't give her that. She wants to play with her cousins, Tirzah and Malachi, and her best friend, Kate. But I can't give her that either. As Brooks gets more mobile, Carmen is realizing that she has a playmate in him. He's starting to chase her around the kitchen but most all activities end in tears these days. Some days I worry that I'm a crazy person by the time evening falls and Michael walks in the door. I think I've been told this is normal and most moms go through this? Two kids two years and under is hard. It just is. I know things will get easier as they both grow more independent but right now, sheesh, doing this thing far away from any outside help is tricky. Before Kaylee and David (another IM couple) moved away, Kaylee offered to come stay with the kids for two hours while I ran errands. It was life changing. But just for an hour and a half. I think I have issues when I'm on my own now, it's absolutely foreign to me. Kaylee is the sweetest thing ever and I was so blessed by her. We were sad to say goodbye to them last month. 

If you've never read the Honest Toddler blog, you should because it's hilarious. Here is a post that sums up some of my days, the section where he lists the "5 free items" to give for Mother's Day is my favorite. Laugh on. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sweet Memories

Seeing all these YouTube videos of children dancing and singing to Frozen makes me think of my own childhood. My siblings and I (along with pretty much any friend we had over for a play date) owned the spotlight on our video camera. My dad was always great about letting us use it to record ourselves for hours. I think he knew there would be some gems in the footage that were sure to make an appearance with the intent of embarrassing us later on in life! We were hilarious and strange at times. To this day we still love to watch those videos of ourselves dancing, singing, acting, whatever it was. This lip syncing to your Disney princess ballad is not a new idea folks. I guarantee every little girl around my age did this with "Once Upon a Dream," "Belle" (the market place song), "A Whole New World," "Part of Your World," etc. Our parents just didn't have smart phones and instant upload onto a website to make us famous. I know we have enough hilarious footage from our childhood to win "America's Funniest Videos" at least twice. I'm not kidding. 

I also think my own children are darling and already super funny, but most of those moments I haven't captured on camera. They go into the vault of memories that Michael and I will share. If we're lucky, one of us will think to email the story or a picture to their email accounts for safe keeping. I want them to be able to know how cute they were. I often think, "Man this would be so funny to put on Facebook! It would surely be a hit on YouTube!" but at the end of the day I tend to choose to keep these sweet moments to myself and cherish living in the here and now with these little babes. This is not to say I won't post videos and gems when I catch them. If I think it's worth it, I will not hesitate to share! Who wouldn't want to be famous!? (I'm only half serious.) 

I wish I had access to some of my sibling videos in honor of "National Sibling Day." I'd love to slap one on here and make y'all laugh. We had a magical childhood - Heather, Preston, Bri, Ashleigh, Katelynn, Julie, Sarah, you know what I'm talking about. :) 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A First Time for Everything

Last Tuesday evening Michael and I joined the other Dallas area IM's and Julie Kendall from Corporate for dinner. It was great to get a dinner out of the house without bringing the babies, but that did mean leaving the kids with a babysitter for the first time. I was a bit nervous because it was during the "we should be getting ready for bedtime" hours for both Carmen and Brooks, but all in all, it went well! A good friend from Charlottesville has a life-long best friend living in Dallas who has an awesome teenage daughter. She was a delight and Carmen had an instant friend. I'm grateful for connections! 

Julie treated us all to dinner at Frankie's (our neighborhood favorite Mexican food) and it was, as always, delicious. The company was better though! I loved getting to meet Julie and seeing the faces of this IM program more. Julie is fantastic and I hope we get to meet again soon. It was also great to be at dinner with other IMs and listen to them all talk about their lives, struggles, and successes in the program so far. 

So now that I've had a small taste of "date night" while the kids are at home with a babysitter and I survived my nerves, I am ready for more! Who's ready to watch them for us?! 

(Thanks for the pic, Julie! I took it from your Facebook page. : )

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March in Plano

We get to stay in the Dallas area for the month April. Michael begins his third month at the same store. He is very excited about the opportunity to see growth within the team he has set in place. They are beginning some fun marketing campaigns to help draw students back into this store. He has great ideas and his employees love him. It's fun to go see them at the mall and hear about how they like working there with him. I know Michael is a great leader, but it is always so rewarding to see others affirm this too.

Carmen loves to see Daddy at work every chance she gets. I wish we could spend all day there. Being a part of his job is so fun for us.

Early this month we flew back home to Virginia to visit our families. Michael didn't get to come because he had training in Atlanta that week. I loved seeing how happy Carmen was to see our families and friends again! I miss you all so much! It was lovely, however I honestly don't think I will choose to fly alone again. We had a layover in Atlanta which made for a very long day of flying with two babies. Something about the altitude makes Carmen poop the biggest poops she can and just imagine being in the way back of the plane with Brooks on my lap, no where to move, cheese-it crumbs all over the place, no where to change her diaper, the smell just sitting there, and I just prayed that it wouldn't leak out until we got off the plane. My prayers were answered thankfully. And I swore off doing that ever again despite the kids being pretty good passengers. And thank you Jesus for our iPad! We watched Frozen over and over again.

March has also brought another birthday for me! Actually....I wasn't excited about this one - 28. Too close to 30. Despite being alone in Dallas, Michael made me feel so loved. He had 5 presents waiting for me when we got home from the airport: 

I love presents. There was one for each day leading up to my birthday. AND he even put one present in each bag for Carmen. He thought of everything.

On my actual birthday we went out to breakfast at Breadwinners Cafe:

Then we went to dinner at THE BEST restaurant we've eaten at yet, Whiskey Cake:

Everything we ate was worth eating 10 times over. Pictured above is the actual whiskey cake and I'm laughing in the pic because Carmen blew out my candle mid-song. Happy Birthday If you come visit us in Dallas, we will take you here to eat. We are trying to come up with reasons to go back. 

And Brooks is now up from his morning nap....gotta go get the little shark.