Update & Photo Dump

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Life is constant.  We are busy, to say the least.

The boys and I are 3 weeks into a new school year at Central Park School for Children.  I am teaching 1st grade and loving it!  I have the most amazing group of learners.  Working full-time, as a lead teacher, makes life full but I am enjoying it.  I am learning how to manage home life and more work.  I miss being home, but I have a peace about teaching at CPSC.  Yes, I am tired, but I am very thankful to be an active member of the learning community at our school.  There is so much to look forward to each day.

Kalen started 5th grade and Brayden is now in 3rd.  They are adjusting and enjoying the newness.

We are fostering to adopt a five year old diamond in the rough.  He has been with us since July 18th.  He stayed with us several weekends this summer to see if he would be a good fit for our family.  We all weighed in and decided to help this little guy out.  He is a little ball of joy.  He loves life and is very active, as are we!  He has some baggage, but don’t we all?  We are thankful to be able to love him right where he is in his life right now.

Madelyn, Kalen and Brayden are starting up soccer (we spent 8 hrs on the soccer fields today).  Julian is about to start high school, Maddie 7th grade.  Scott is revving up for another school year at Elon.

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Maddie was a part of a Collage Project at Duke School this summer. Here she is the night of the culminating event. This is her moose puppet she made.

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First day of school for Brayden, 3rd grade.

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Scott and I waiting for Maddie’s presentation for the Collage Project.

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July 18th. N came to stay. 🙂

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First day of school, Kalen, 5th grade.

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Kalen & Brayden

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Julian Jeremiah, awaiting Maddie’s performance.

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N practicing his numbers with my mom, not long after first meeting her. 🙂

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Kalen’s amazing fish

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Me this summer on a date with my Scott at one of our favs, Remedy Diner in Raleigh.

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Madelyn’s owl

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Some of my students right after lunch one day, during quiet time.

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The first week in my class. I love first grade!

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Last week, my dad took our whole family out for pizza and to a Durham Bull’s Baseball game. We had a blast. Maddie got her face painted.

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Brayden pointing out something to N at the baseball game. N had a ball that night!

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Catch Up and Goodbye 2013

Only a few more hours left in 2013.   We have been very busy with school, work and the holidays.  We are happy at home, bringing in the New Year together.

Just before our game fest, I wanted to upload photos from the past few months.  I will add captions along the way.

DSC01792This is me with Scott and my dad.  We were celebrating Thanksgiving together at Dad and Sally’s new house in King, my hometown.  They moved from Kentucky to be closer to family.  We are so thankful.

DSC01790Another photo at the Kirby Thanksgiving, this is Ryan, Laura with Scott and Stephanie.

DSC01815Our family is pictured here with Shanda and Jan outside of Mellow Mushroom in Winston-Salem as we spent time with the Morrison side of the family for Thanksgiving.

DSC01877Julian was a part of the set crew for Duke School’s December production of Spy School.  We are so proud of him for taking part and doing such a great job!

DSC01910Kalen’s class has been studying the Colonial times.  His class had a culminating event that showcased all the work they’d been putting into.  The picture below shows Kalen at his work station where he made an amazing tool box!  We have recently learned of Kalen’s interest and skill in carpentry.  He is great with his hands.

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DSC01943Scott and I travelled to Asheville (thanks Jan and Jerry for watching our kids and Jasper) to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary!  We had such a sweet time together.  It was time for us to be alone and celebrate our love.  We have so much to be grateful for!

DSC01967Julian is pictured here with his new skates from Grandpa and Nana.  He had been wanting these for a long time.

DSC02011Scott reads to the kids Christmas Eve after our Candlelight Service at church.  Together.

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Can you pick out the sleepiest kid?  This is just before heading down Christmas morning.

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Brayden with Scott.  Brayden bought his dad this game that he had been playing the a lot in the toy store.  🙂

DSC02046Sibling love and thanksgiving.

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A picture with my uncle Bob, my mom and my brother, Ryan.  Wish my grandma could have been with us.  We miss her so much.
DSC02000Cousins, Anna Kristin and Madelyn, have fun opening gifts together at my mom’s.

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Madelyn, Anna Kristin, Kalen, Grayson, Julian, & Brayden at Grandma’s.

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Finally a family picture with Scott, Sally, my Dad and Ryan.  Together at Christmastime.

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Brayden in the Christmas spirit!

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Sweet Kalen, so excited and thankful at his Papa’s.

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Sally and my Dad, Christmas 2013

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Stephanie, Anna Kristin, Grayson & Ryan

DSC02079Our family outside an old cabin right beside my Dad and Sally’s house.

Marriage Takes Work

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It was a rude day when I realized that marriage takes work.  I am a simple minded gal and it seemed at first that our picture perfect love was going to coast us into a happily ever after (effortlessly).  Nope.

Marriage.  Sure, it is full of ups and downs.  I am not talking about that.  I am talking about the work.  The day in and day out of giving and taking.  Scott and I have recently reflected on our marriage’s course, the occasional messes we find ourselves in, and just … love.  December 19, 2013 will mark 15 years of marriage for us!  I found some encouragement from a piece I read from the New York Times, entitled That Loving Feeling Takes a Lot of Work by Jane Brody.

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It would be silly to think that love should just come without true, intentional, thoughtful and determined work.  Work meaning the sustained energy or efforts we give towards being together and making it good… really good.  Work being the fashioning of this love we want to share and making it happen.

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The work that goes on to enrich and keep love alive in marriage is not to be overlooked.  Putting marriage on auto-pilot will only get you so far.  Being mindful of each other’s needs, wants, desires, interests and bends, and then catering to them with a committed heart full of love and devotion isn’t for lazy folks.

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Scott and I have been having conversations, sometimes after a conflict and sometimes when we are doing great, about this idea of marriage being work.  He found the article in the New York Times and forwarded it to me.  The writer, Jane Brody, shares an interesting article full of take-homes for any marriage.  She shares some insights from a new book, The Myths of Happiness, by Dr. Lyubomirsky that describe a slew of research-tested actions and words that can do wonders to keep love alive.  Also, Brody cites Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a professor that has done studies regarding the positive energy in the everydayness of marriage and its benefits.  Here are some of the take-homes I was referring to:

In building companionship within marriage…
Take time to be together and talk.
Truly listen to each other.
Express admiration and affection.
Appreciation is important.  Don’t take  your spouse for granted.
Remind yourself and your partner of what you appreciate about him/her and the marriage.
Mix things up, be spontaneous!
Change how you do things, keep things fresh… meaningful…and positive!
Shake it up! Try new things together.  
Rekindle a so-so marriage with nonsexual touching and affection on a daily basis.  
In building energy within marriage…
Support each other’s dreams and goals.  Stay tuned in and listen with interest and delight.
Fill the home with words and actions that elicit positive emotions.  
Simple acts can enhance marital happiness… like sharing an amusing event, smiling at each other, or being playful.  
Do these strategies seem too simple?  If that were some sort of checklist for your marriage, would you cross every line off and say you’ve got it covered, no work needed?  When I read them, I felt like I was getting a nudge, an elbow to the side.  Come on, Anna, there’s more work to be done!

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River Rocks

Brayden’s 1st grade class took a trip to the Eno River recently.  They have been studying rocks and they thought it might be fun to explore the river in search of them.  I went along for the ride and took some fun photos as we were on our adventure.

Brady with his friend, Sumi

Brayden sketching some rocks for his scavenger hunt.

Do you spot what we saw from the bridge?

We hiked to get closer to the Great Blue Heron,what a beauty.  The kids got out their clipboards and sketched the bird.

Wedding Weekend

My stepbrother, Scott, recently got married.  He and his new wife, Laura, had a beautiful and picture perfect wedding.  Our family of six was very thankful to have been there on that day to celebrate this sweet union.  I wanted to share some photos from the weekend, which include several of my dad’s side of the family.

Pictured above, from left to right, is Scott, my brother-Ryan, sister-in-law Stephanie, Sally and my Dad.  This was taken at the rehearsal dinner at the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro.

Here I am with my brothers.

Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ken

Super fun aunts- Kay and Sue with my silly brother, Ryan, in the background.

My Dad with my stepmom/mother of the groom, Sally at the wedding.

Laura with her dad.  Isn’t this just gorgeous?

They were married in Laura’s sister’s garden area.  It was simply beautiful in every single way.

My groom  🙂

Ryan, my dad and me

My kids with their cousins, Anna Kristin and Grayson.

Madelyn and Anna Kristin taking it all in at 10 years old.

Two little cuties… our Brayden and my nephew, Grayson

On to the reception we went.  This is Ry and Steph.  We had a fabulous time celebrating Scott & Laura, love and family.

Girls on the Run

This past Saturday Madelyn and I ran our first 5K together.  Shanda, my sister-in-law, ran with us.  We had a blast!

For the past few months, Maddie has been a part of the Girls on the Run program at her school.  It is a wonderful program that not only encourages girls ages 8 through 12 to exercise, but also weaves in discussions dealing with self-esteem and character building.  To finish up the curriculum, the girls were invited to participate in a 5K Girls on the Run race.  So, Madelyn and her team joined about 1500 runners on Saturday to run the 5K.

I am so proud of Madelyn, Shanda and myself for accomplishing this goal.  I certainly would not have thought I would have done such a thing, much less enjoy it.  Check, check.

Jan and Jerry also joined us on Saturday to celebrate the day’s events and Madelyn and Kalen’s birthdays.  Here we area at Locopops living it up.