In 2017, I’m hunting the good stuff. I am setting aside the turmoil I see all around me and instead recording snapshots that will tell a story of fun, adventure, joy, and thankfulness. This is the story of my life and I’ll choose the tone and how I want to tell it; I do that daily with my attitude, my outlook, and the lens through which I choose to see life.
Here on my blog, I’m keeping a running camera roll of each month’s highlights and adventures. Has life been perfect? Nope. Have we had our share of hard days and tough moments? You bet. But that’s not what I’m choosing to focus on. I’m taking a day at the end of each month to go back and look at the snapshots of goodness and joy we have been given.
Without further adieu…I present to you November.
We woke up on the morning of November 1st at my sister’s house outside Atlanta to begin making our way back home from our unexpected TN trip when Ryan’s grandfather passed away.
After being away from home so much during October, once we finally got back to the house, we hunkered down and got back to a heavier school schedule for a few more weeks before our long semester break.
Our little Hank Baby has been getting to enjoy more inside time as he continues to learn his inside manners.
More purging and getting rid of things began in earnest. This was a large collection of mostly professional books that Ryan has had in boxes since we left TN. Unfortunately (or fortunately…depending on how you look at it), we were finally able to part with these books.
Ryan and I enjoyed a date night out to Cantina 76. We have been really fortunate here in Columbia to be super close to so many great restaurants; we’ve been able to leave the kids home alone and sneak away for some time together.
Two of my neighbor friends and I also made a Target run on the Sunday afternoon that the Magnolia line launched. I didn’t end up buying anything but it was still fun to be in the store on an exciting day.
Hank has learned the fine art of begging. He watched Thomas eat his Halloween candy like a hawk…just hoping for a lick or a crumb.
One of our big family highlights of November was celebrating Thomas turning 14. He asked for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, no party, a homemade strawberry cake, and to go see a Georgia game.
Over the past few years, I have been really curious to try Stitch Fix. This month, our bank was giving $10 cash back so I decided to see what the fuss was all about. Honest review: SKIP IT. All five of my items were valued at $248 (even after selecting the lower priced options). Minus the 25% discount to keep the whole box and my $20 styling fee, I was still looking at around $160 to keep five items.
Because I’m frugal I literally walked in Ross and found very similar items to the ones Stitch Fix sent and only spent $65 dollars. In each frame below the Stitch Fix item is on the right and the Ross corresponding item is on the left. I ended up returning ALL of the Stitch Fix items and only being out $10 (half the styling fee since my bank paid me cash back). I also returned all of the Ross items except for the blue and black kimono and the burgundy velvet/bell sleeve top. Now I know.
The weekend following T’s birthday, he and Ryan were able to join a handful of other chaplains and their sons for a fishing weekend near the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Meanwhile back home, the girls and I enjoyed a shameful amount of Hallmark movies…
…bought the dog a sweater…because…well, he’s adorable in it…
…and while Kate and Mae were out playing with their friends, I spent some serious time cleaning out the kitchen, organizing and purging pantry and fridge supplies, and trying to get creative with meal planning with what food we have remaining in the house…
…we also found a sign at Hobby Lobby that made reference to one of our many nicknames for Hank, Little Man.
On the day Ryan and Thomas were traveling back from North Carolina, my parents drove in for a visit. We were so happy to have them come, even if my mom was sick during that time.
They were able to be in town for Mae’s 12th birthday; another one of our big milestones of November.
Kate loving on her Little Man…y’all this dog is living his best life.
The kids and I made a Target run and enjoyed a snack and sitting around crunching numbers after seeing that Target donates 5% of their revenue each week…an amount totaling MILLIONS of dollars. #homeschool
We were given a house at Fort Polk and after seeing the size (much smaller than we are used to), layout (it’s a duplex–yikes!), and the condition (a little more run down that we were hoping), I had a little bit of a pity party. After some trusted counsel, time spent in prayer, and finding this little sign, I think I’ve made peace with our next house…
After months of patiently waiting, the kids and I finally saw Wonder on opening day. We’d all read the book back in 2015, and the movie didn’t disappoint. Such a great, sweet story!
Despite having to delay his “birthday gift” by a few weeks, Thomas was super excited to get in a trip to Athens to see the Bulldogs play.
The girls and I enjoyed a quiet day around the house. Hank got a bath and I lounged around. Sometimes I don’t know how to do that well, but I am trying, in this season, to pair work and busyness with times of rest too.
The girls worked on a Trader Joe’s gingerbread turkey and had fun decorating it with candies.
Around the Loop, it seems as if about half of the kids have had birthdays this fall. We enjoyed a combined get-together at the gazebo for Ben and Gabrielle’s birthdays; my friend Jessica is basically a professional baker. Her cakes taste just as good as they look!
Here, near the end of our time in Columbia we have all but fallen off the church and chapel wagon. I think we have seriously just needed some quiet sabbath moments at home during such a busy time of transition.
One particular Sunday, I happened to pop in the Goodwill and ended up scoring a deal of a lifetime. Kate will be using this Jenny Lind bed I found. I’ll have to do a post once her new room is all set up in Louisiana.
We enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving at home. It was a lot of cooking for only a few minutes around the table. That afternoon, it was a little too quiet for me. We knew that traveling back to see family wasn’t an option this year, but it is kind of lonely when you realize they are all back home together and you are not with them. #militarylife
We had a lot of leftovers and Hank continued his begging. What a goober.
All along, I’d planned for the kids to work up through Thanksgiving with our school work and then take an extended break until January. Thankfully, we got in 16 dedicated weeks of school for this semester. We’ll do the other 20 in the spring. Right now, Thomas is finishing up his Louisiana College dual enrollment classes and then we will officially be out of school mode for a few weeks during our PCS and Christmas. Whew!!
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I bought Kate and Mae some yarn as they have been obsessed with finger knitting after watching YouTube videos.
We always want our home to be open for others to enjoy and as we are finding ourselves in a new season of parenting teens/tweens, we especially want our home to be the landing place for our kids and their friends as often as possible. We think we may have found a new tradition: monthly game night.
The Monday after Thanksgiving was our last OFFICIAL school day and I basically had the kids write about their time here. I hope it enabled them to help process some of their feelings about having to move again. Seeing them work through the difficult emotions of getting close to friends and then having to say goodbye is by far one of the most challenging parts of military life.
Over on my Dependent Diaries site, I did my very first gift guide where I used affiliate links. After ten years on the internet, I have never, ever used affiliate marketing, but thought with a new site with a new focus, I might give it a try.
This little black dress was one of the ten items I suggested. To be transparent, I had 14 items purchased from that post/those links and I earned just over $10 in affiliate income. Don’t worry folks, I won’t be retiring early with that kind of dough.
This month we made our final drive to Augusta to finish up with Dr. Crawford and let Thomas get his braces off. One kid down, two to go. We are all so super pleased with Thomas’s smile and how his orthodontic treatment ended up.
After leaving Dr. Crawford’s office, it was SUCH a treat to meet up with our beloved Gwen for lunch. Such a sweet time with an even sweeter friend and mentor.
We rounded out the month with Mae and Kate getting to join their friend Ella for an early birthday celebration since we won’t be around when her actual birthday takes place. We are very much going to miss the Yates family. We served with them at Fort Gordon and then had these six months with them in Columbia. They are definitely our Army family. They are our people and I just pray we end up together somewhere again.
Finally, several of the ladies of Custer Loop (plus one) enjoyed a nice evening out to eat. I’m so very grateful for the love and friendship of these women during our time at C4. God is always so abundantly faithful to provide a network, a community, a tribe of people to help carry us along this journey.
And that’s a wrap on November. December is going to be a month for the record books with a graduation, a winter PCS to Louisiana, and a trip back to Tennessee to visit family for Christmas.
It’s crazy to think about how full this year has been and how quickly it really has gone by. God’s mercies are new every morning, and I know we are going to all need a lot of it during the next four weeks.