Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a note to my oldest dude


tonight we had one of the most precious talks we have ever had. not really because of what it was about (a girl) but because of how we talked. you were so open and transparent with me. showing so much wisdom. we talked about integrity, honor, wisdom, discernment, graciousness, God's plan to prosper and not to harm, not understanding why GOd may close a door to something in order to open one to something better, about seeing God's hand of protection...and SO much of it was YOU talking to me, instead of the other way around.

i have often wondered when i talk (sometimes tirelessly) if you hear anything i say. if you can hear that i am really on your side. if you trust me and my advice. if you know and see that God is truly in control of your life and what happens to you. if, when i am vulnerable with you, and tell you about my mistakes and failures-you really listen and hear my heart's desire is that you do better than i did, that you will make better choices. if ANY of it actually soaks into your head and more importantly you heart.

tonight, i know that even if just a little bit, you do.

i am so grateful that God has seen it fit to bless me with you. not just to be your "mom" but to be a trusted confidant. i so don't deserve it. He is SO good. He is good to hear my prayers as i pray so fervently for you. He is good to answer my prayers, not always with a "yes", but sometimes a "no",  and sometimes a "not yet." He is good to know what is best for me and for you, even when i don't. He is good to give me just a little peek into your heart and to let me know that i am not completely spinning my wheels and that there are days, that i do in fact get it right.  oh i am so grateful for those days.

you are 15. i know that everyday, not even every week, or every month we will not be on the same page. you will roll your eyes at me, rebel, argue, bicker, whine and fuss. but today, i am resting in knowing that you love me, you trust me, you hear me, and you know God is at work. it will be days like today, that will get us through the mess of the other days when we are "off"

i am proud of you. you are a joy. you are a gift. you are one of my greatest delights. and i am SO proud to be your mom.

i love you peanut.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


a little short slideshow...nuthin' fancy :)

maverick was born on may 12, 2010....14 years to the day that his big brother was born....
it is a very special day for this momma. my first and my last baby born on the same day. that doesn't happen very often. we had been so worried that our new little man would come on a day that might keep me from being able to celebrate chandlers birthday and also have me laid up in the hospital while he has his 8th grade graduation from middle school. the thought of that was just so hard for me to be ok with. of course, God had it under control
 (i have found that he usually does, if we would just stop and allow it). on the morning of the 12th we went to the amazing Dr Beverly Wood and begged her to let us have this baby today. she said that ONLY if i was dialated and that she felt good about it, she would consider it.  i crossed my fingers and willed my "girls parts" to do what they were supposed to do...actually i may have threatened them, that's beside the point. DR checked and indeed my pep talk worked--- DR  "wanna meet back at 1 to have this baby?"  ---me, "is the pope catholic?!?! let's do this!"

we got in the elevator, squealed, and began calling all of our people to let them know what was fixing to happen.  since it was ALSO chandlers bday, we had promised to come eat with him at school and bring his favorite lunch....instead we got him out of class for the day, took him to out to eat for birthday lunch (at chili's of course) and straight  back to the hospital. 

having a baby by c-section is a WHOLE differnt game. it's very calm and easy. no huge dramas. the family is all there in the room when we wheeled out in our gowns and hats. and wait there until we come back with our new bundle of love.

as soon as they wheel me into the delivery room (alone, they call for randy later) i am freezing. it is so cold you can hardly stand it. between that and my nerves, i laid there shaking like leaves on a tree...almost uncontrolable (which was embarassing). getting an epidural while shaking like your in an earthquke is no fun. but they did it, cause they were great and amazing...then that darn sheet goes up. i know it is to protect me from something that would be sure to scar me for life, but i am dying to know what's going on down there. finally randy is in and at my side. tells me that he loves me and that he's proud of me. and then he does what only any good "Cheeks" man does-small talk and chatter with the staff. sheesh. this makes me crazy. DON'T DISTRACRT THE PROFESSIONALS THAT HAVE YOUR WIFE CUT OPEN IN HALF!!!!! it will make your wife feel better if everyone is paying attention to their job. (just a little advice to those who may need it) and then just like that after a little pulling, and stretching, and discomfort, and wierdness, your baby's face appears over that white sheet like magic and everything changes right that second. i have another new baby, and my heart just filled with so much love and joy, i worry that it may explode and they will have to admit me a as a cardiac patient.   bliss.

randy takes my new tiny man down the hall and to our room where his already adoring fans wait for his debut, i stay in that cold room and thank the drs, nurses, and God for making this go well and taking the best care of me they could. and then i close my eyes and take it all in....i thank God for my new little guy, for the big brother and sister, i pray for my marriage and that we can be strong for our children and teach them to honor Him. i praise HIM for his grace and mercies that pour over me. thank him for another chance at the life that i had always dreamed of. 

then i make the ride back to my room and i just lay there in my bed and watch. i watch how randy shows him off to all of our guests, how chandler BEAMS when he sees and holds his birthday buddy, sterling fascintated by his tiny nose, how he is introduced to his fantastic grandparents, how the nurses and technicians come in and out,  new people are arriving , i listen to the ooooh's and ahhhhh's and laughter---it's music that reaches down to the very depths of my soul. these are the moments that i will never forget  the rest of my life. sitting and watching those that i love experience and rejoice over the birth of my new baby. my cup runneth over.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

cheeks, party of 5

these were our first "family" pictures with all 5 of us.  they were so fun.
this session, i finally took my own advice...
as a photographer, i always tell people to NOT stress out about what they wear,
the location, or to over think it. when our sweet photographer, Karyn Kelbaugh
showed up to our front door. i was LITERALLY in my pajamas still, the babies asleep 
in their beds (with not a clue as to what we were wearing),
 and i had NO idea where we would go to do the shoot.
clearly, i had taken the "don't over think it to a new level"
we threw on some clothes (whatever they wanted to wear-nothing "matched")
and headed to our back yard that was full of dead grass, branches, and nothing pretty-
when were done there, we headed up the street to a train track, unsure of what would be there.
this was the most relaxed, un-stressful, and fun family shoot ever. 
no tears, no crying, no fighting, no eye rolling...nothing.
and the result-was a set of images that beautifully reflect each member of my 
family and each of their precious personalities. 
i love them. they will forever be treasured.

when i look at these pictures, i am overwhelmed by how much i love the people in them.
that THIS is actually MY family...and i can't believe that they are mine.
i can't believe that God for some reason, saw it fit to let me have them. 

this is maverick kirby------
he is 6 months old. he is happy. he loves to suck his left thumb, loves it.
his eyes are the most beautiful blue i have ever stared into. 
i want to soak him up with a biscuit and gobble him up. 
he is was a precious and treasured surprise 5th member of our family.

sterling maye-------
she is 2, and all that comes with it. she is a MESS that you can't help but love.
she is silly, but at times super shy and clingy (which i kinda love).
she has personality beyond her years.  she is ornery. she is beautiful.
she calls her brothers "bubba" (chandler) and "buddy" (maverick) and 
is quick to correct you if you interchange their "names."
and she thinks they are both fabulous.

chandler garrett------
he is 14 and a freshman in high school (i have no idea when this happened)
he is smart. he is funny. i enjoy just hanging out with him and listening to 
his opinions of the world around him. he's super talented and creative.
he thinks his parents are embarrassing, but secretly he thinks we are hysterically funny...
at least that's what i tell myself. i totally have a crush on him and think he's fabulous!

randy & tomi-----
he's my hero. i am a crazy nut case. he's smart and a hard worker.
i am a photographer and mom and a wife. 
he loves his job (regional director of operations for a really great long term care company).
he loves to hunt. i love road trips with just he and i. we make each other laugh.

 i love how they play together. it sends me to the moon to watch them and makes me super happy!

she wears these wings every where. and i can barely stand the cuteness. 

 someday we are gonna be best friends....after she's a teenager. :)

oooh. these 3. precious.

my boys. they share a birthday-14 years apart. 
the first and the last boys i will ever fall in love with.

randy is such a great dad. he is crazy about these kids and about me.
and that is one of the BEST feelings in the whole world!

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of High School!
(this is the first day of kindergarten)
(this was today- 9th grade!)

how did we get here so fast? high school. wow.

i, like so many other mom's do on this day every year, think back on all of our other "first day's" of school... today was my 10th. and i am overwhelmed by the thought that i only have 3 more after today. just 3 more times to drive up to school, tell him to be GREAT, like God made him to be, try my best to get a hug and a kiss with out embarrassing him too much, tell him i can't wait to see him in a few hours and hear ALL about the day, and send him off into school. just 3 more times. (can you see me wiping away tears and sniffle)

i remember when i first took him to kindergarten- i was a mess. i was so excited for him. i couldn't wait to hear all about his new friends and the play ground, and lunch time. i was thrilled at the thought of "home work", so that i could see all that he was learning (clearly, i am WAY over being excited about homework) i was scared. scared that i would be missing out on something while he was away from me, in someone else's care (thank you mrs. le roy for loving him). and i could only imagine all the things that waited for him inside that school, all the things he would learn, friends he would make, and new opportunities for his future.
(look how little he is...i LOVE this of him walking in to W A Porter elementary for the first time!)

and today, i don't feel much differently. just a bigger kid, a smaller backpack, and a bigger school.

i wept again today, like i do every year (literally) as soon as i drove away. wept. i am certain that will happen the next 3 years too. i have dreamed about him being in high school and all the fun things that he will get to be a part of. homecoming, driving, football games, dances, pep rallies- so so many fun things!

so today, i am praying for God to shine favor on him as he starts this new part of his life. i pray for sweet friends, teachers to care for him, a heart that is kind to others, and a mind that is open to learning all that he can. again...not unlike i did the first day of kindergarten.
(really, was he not the CUTEST thing you have ever laid eyes on?)

here are a few more pictures from this morning. he is not nearly as patient or happy to pose for me anymore. but he endured for me.
have a great year my boy! i love you to bits!!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

i am baaaaaaack!

it has only been like 12 months or so. that's all. (read with great sarcasm)

the last year has been full. full of lots of things, life changing events, growth, new life, struggles, great joys, devastating heart breaks, glorious answered prayers, tears, a little arguing, lot's of laughing ( 'cause if you don't, you might cry), mountain top highs, and way down in the valley lows. do you want the good news or the bad news first?

let's go with the good- we made it through. we made it. and i might venture to say that we are stronger than before. (i am at least, but so i don't feel so lonely and vulnerable in the blogging world, i will continue to use the words "we, our, and us" eventually i will have to do this on "my own" but for now, i will remain "plural inclusive)....and yes that's a word (at least in my world it is)...i pinkie swear.

we successfully got our biggest through the 8th grade and now he is prepping to start high school. we found out we were having another baby (*SURPRISE!!!!!*****) just before sterling's 1st birthday. then discovered it was another boy! we were thrilled! i also had a really hard pregnancy and it nearly did me in- i was WORE out! the stress of the baby was a whole nutha story. he finally came on may 12th---exactly 14 years after i had his big brother. the timing was perfect and a huge answer to prayer. so many many other details to share in posts to come.

the biggest bad news of the last year (and i am going to be REALLY vulnerable here) is this.....i was COMPLETELY checked out. completely. since that last "Sterling is 9 months post", i haven't written down ONE thing...no journaling no nothing. the truth is, when i found out i was pregnant, i was real real sad. (that is so hard to write) not sad about the baby necessarily, but just sad about how it would change my life. i was so getting used to the peeps that i had and the way our lives were going along just fine. i really and truly went into some weird depression- i think that it kinda freaked my husband out. there were days and days that i wore the same thing, never left the house, cried constantly, and just checked out of life in general. i have NO pictures of the last year (mind you, i am a professional photographer). i have MAYBE a very small handful but really nothing like i should. it's shameful. when there are people out there with real terminal illnesses, and they just want one or two more days with the ones they love. i am moping around, complaining, and whining, and WASTING away the precious gift of time that my sweet loving Jesus gave me. wasting it. shameful.

so, now, on the eve of the biggest brother starting high school, the 21 month old sister getting ready for mother's day out, and the littlest brother cooing and giggling in my lap. i have decided, i don't want to miss it. i don't want to miss another year with my kids or with my amazing husband. i want to be fully here and in the moment and wrap myself up in them and feel how much they love ME - just because of who God made me to be and that's what they love about me. Warts and all- i don't really have warts, but you get the picture.

i am going to spend the next few months "journaling" about last year and trying to fill in the holes that i left out. some posts may be full of joy and happy thoughts, some might be me recalling the bad days, some may be pure nonsense and silliness, and there will for sure be some about all the fabulous things that God will be doing in our family this year. and for a laugh, i can almost guarantee that more than one or two posts will be composed while on "ambien" and those will be pure ridiculousness. i am certain that if you follow this blog for very long, you will hear somethings that my shock you and blow your mind, you may think "hey, i don't like this girl all that much anymore" but please stick with me on those days, i hope to show how God pulled me through and growed me up a little (yes, that also is a real word). He is changing my heart even now as i type. and more......now.

so, if you pick to read this, thank you. your encouragement and honesty will be a huge gift to my journey in becoming the girl, wife, mom, daughter, friend, aunt, neighbor, sister-in-law, yada yada yada that HE wants me to be. i need your accountability and maybe even a gentle kick in the butt. if you don't pick to keep up with it....i totally understand. just know that i am trying, and i am trusting that God has a plan for me.

so......check back soon. this may be my new daily obsession. and if you spread the word and sign up to follow, and make comments, we just might be able to reach a mom that is where i was and help encourage her a little too. after all, isn't that what God calls us to do. help those who are hurting?

until next time.............
from my gypsy heart to yours!

ps a few words that GOD has on my heart to ponder today.

*ephisians 3:16 i pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources, he will empower me with his inner strength through his Spirit

*philippians 4:7 then i will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything i can understand. His peace will guard my heart and mind as i live in Christ Jesus.

*1 thessalonians 5:13 so encourage each other and build each other up.....

*psalms 139:16b every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sterling @ 9 months old!
This baby is something else! She is the busiest little thing-into EVERYTHING!!! We have had to move things, child proof, block off doors. I never had to do that with her brother. It is a whole new world around here. She is also the happiest of babies-smiling and giggling all the time. She thinks her brother is the greatest thing ever! She is crawling fast and furious, and has zero fear. 

She has this past month, out grown more than just her clothes! We have had to put away her bouncy seat, her car seat, the bath tub, and the swing. We took pictures of her in them just so we could compare to when she was first in them all and it is crazy how much bigger she is now. She thought getting in each of these was great fun-she hadn't been in them in a while so they seemed like "new" toys to her.  She was sad when we took her out and threw a minor fit, then she was off crawling to get into something else!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

First Day of 8th Grade
I know that I start so many posts with this question in some form, "Where has the time gone?" but I truly ask myself that nearly everyday. Chandler just started the 8th grade-his last year of Middle School. Only one year left till High School. 4 and half till college. Where has the time gone? 
He is LOVING school. He started playing football, is in all pre-AP classes, and is in select art, he also is playing soccer outside of school. He is a busy little bee. He is a typical 13 year old kid, but funny, kind, and he is in love for the first time (however, it is with his baby sister- more on that later:) 
I just wanted to share his "First Day Look" (it looks thrown together, but trust me- LOTS of thought went into this).  We are so proud of the kid that he is and know that we are really lucky that he is ours!

Family Photo Fun!
It NEVER fails. We can be together for 10 days, but the last night at the very last moment possible, we panic because we don't have a "family picture" This usually results with
all the guys complaining and LOTS of crying from the kids. Oh if you could just be a fly on the wall when we are trying to take this pictures. It is quite hilarious.
In the end, we always get something fairly good with our ever growing family 
(21 and still counting). We are so so blessed.
All the Grandkids with Maw Maw and Paw Paw-
from the left: Ella (3) Julia (1.5)  Caden (4) the twins, Emmory and Amelia (4 weeks)
Brandon (6) Chandler(13) Ainsley (1.5) and our sweet Sterling (8 months)
Just the girls- only 4 out of the 6 are crying-no too bad.
 cracks me up

Chandler wants to live with Melinda & Travis.

My sister and brother in law bought a house this past spring. IT IS FANTASTIC!
The best part is the property. It's gorgeous!!! This is their front yard 
(view from the front porch). Isn't it great? You can't even see the road- it is country livin'
with out being out in the boon docks! Chandler ran and rode four wheelers, shot
fire works, climbed trees, explored, played with the dog...every night he was filthy dirty and
completely exhausted from playing so dang hard. The other reason that he would love to move in with Travis and Melinda (besides that they are so fun and all the kids favorite aunt and uncle despite my trying to beat them) Travis is a vet and they got to borrow a horse for a few days.
Chandler love love loved it! 
He's a natural.

Family Day on the lake!

We rented a "party barge" one day while we were in TN. We were on the lake literally  all day! We had a great time and the kids thought it was so fun. We cooked out, rode tubes and jet ski's, then we found this teenie little island right in the middle of the lake. It was so cool. Everyone hopped out of the boat and swam for a bit, laid out, some of us even fit in a quick nap. Our family is so fun! I love being a part of it!
"Our" island
Sterling in her float- she loved it, can you tell?
Paw Paw let Chandler drive the boat. He did great!
My guys- love them!
Ok, not super attractive, but Chandler loves these kinds of pics!