Old McDonald’s Farm

Fall weather has arrived and it’s perfect.

Fall festivals have started everywhere, and we took part in Saturday’s celebration of the season at Old McDonald’s Farm. The free petting zoo was a hit, but seeing the Gaffney family was the highlight.

Peter is used to farm animals, and he helped city-boy Elijah work up his courage to pet the pig. The cow lost his chance at a friend when he licked Elijah in their first greeting.

We followed up the festival with some adult fun including Oktoberfest and sweet potato fries at Parlor City. Saturdays were made for simple luxuries.

Mr. and Mrs. Augustine

Jenny was one of my students my first year teaching. She eventually moved into the yearbook editor role and we spent countless hours working side by side.

Jenny and I would often have conversations long after the final bells for the day rang. We would discuss anything and everything, and she spoke freely about her best friend- God. (What sophomore in high school knows Jesus in this way?) She spoke about God like she really knew him, and I soon realized she did.

Jenny inspires me to speak the words my heart is really feeling, even if it sounds cheesy or makes other people uncomfortable. She reminds me that a relationship with God is so important you shouldn’t be able to keep it out of every day conversations.

This revelation has allowed me to be a better daughter of God and a better disciple. I can’t spread God’s message to others if I avoid speaking about how He has moved me each day.

As fortunate as I was to have Jenny as a student, I’m blessed to work side by side with her again as my colleague. She is an incredible teacher and an even better Catholic role model. She makes me want to be better, too.

Witnessing Jenny exchange vows with Andrew was a moment I felt the Holy Spirit. All of those conversations we had about who she was dating and decisions she was struggling with brought her to her most perfect match. Who would have guessed that while Jenny was living “a year of single life” in college that God knew all along about His plans for her to find Andrew- a man so perfect for her that he would propose in front of an altar at church on Christmas Eve. God reveals our story a little at a time, and Jenny’s wedding reminded me that God’s plan is always so much bigger and more amazing than our own.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him YOUR plans,” right?

Congratulations, Jenny. It’s obvious you and Andrew have been busy planning not just a wedding, but a marriage. God bless you!

Baby Andrew

An answered prayer. A true blessing. An absolute miracle.

Baby Andrew.

Congratulations to my best friend, Katie and her husband, Bob. The newest addition to your family is perfect, and Peter is already an incredible older brother.

I can’t wait to continue watching your boys grow up together, and I know Elijah looks forward to many more playdates full of cars, trucks, and balls.

Is it too much of a prayer request to ask God to make us neighbors?

The Markket

A group of English teachers didn’t let the fact that The Markket is spelled “wrong” bother us once we were blown away by its beauty and charm.

The Markket in Edgewood, IA, a new destination to all of us, was just one stop during our day trip. This home decorating store opened a couple of months ago and displays gorgeous home furnishings, full kitchens, and stunning woodwork. The gray/blue kitchen cabinet model gave me some serious home envy. The store also features paint, decorations, rugs, curtains…etc. from the Joanna Gaines collection in Waco, Texas. If you watch Fixer Upper, this store is her style of modern meets rustic. Is that a style?

Another highlight of the trip was time outside at Franklin Street Brewery. Even though we work together every day during the school year, a lot of our conversations revolve around our students. Time away from school and out of town was a breath of fresh air. It put a limit on the “teacher talk” and allowed us to just catch up with each other as friends.

If you want to join us next year, let’s get a date on the calendar NOW. Summers fill up too fast. Destination TBD.

The last two years we’ve spent a summer day at the White Water Park and a couple of days soaking up Life at the Lodge.

Summer Sister Time

Sushi.

Summer Shandy.

Sunshine.

Sisters.

Need I say more?

Ashley, Meredith, and I all work in schools with the perk of summers off. Our schedules finally aligned for a sister’s day by the pool. Even though the 70 degree day kept us from diving in, I will never be upset with a day that includes drinks outside and fruitful conversations.

Meredith was sweet enough to ask Ashley and me to be included in her and Matt’s wedding. As if we weren’t excited enough!

I think there will be many more summer sister dates in our future.

Blank Park Zoo

Introducing Elijah to his first zoo was on this year’s summer bucket list. Even though I’m convinced he thought every animal was a “pup-pup”, he loved it. Side note, he gets very distracted on walks when a puppy goes by, and I absolutely love his excitement and curiosity. He can also hear a dog barking long before I hear it. Little ears but a lot of love for animals.

Our friends Paige and Tony joined us with their little girl, Harlow. Watching Harlow and Elijah interact was a joy in itself. Even though we live a couple hours apart, more playdates for these two are a must!

The Gift of Summer

The first week of summer reminded me time and time again what a gift it is to have a chunk of time “off”. Here is a bulleted list of what we’ve been doing with our gift of time.

  • Splash pad dates with Elijah. We also bought him a little pool for our back patio. He uses it more as a water table, but it’s serving the purpose of cooling down while exploring.
  • Too many walks/jogs to count with the jogging stroller. We even figured out the Dunkin’ Donuts is less than two miles from our house. This distance is just enough to make me work for my large iced coffee with hazelnut swirl.
  • Book Club with my coworkers. We picked A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman for our June read. We’ll discuss in mid July. The highlight of this meeting was the company, the weather, and the Summer Shandy.
  • Professional Development Planning. A group of teachers has been given the green light to take over the PD for next year, and we’re not messing around. We met at the public library for a few hours and came up with some awesome proposals.
  • Date night for the Pork Tornados concert at The McGrath Amphitheater. The weather was perfect for an outdoor concert, and they broke the Uptown record of just under 4,000 people.
  • A visit to Matt’s office in Waterloo. Matt might be the busiest person we know, so Elijah and I had to take advantage of a day he was available. Thanks for letting us crash you office for lunch, Matt.
  • A playdate for Peter and Elijah while Katie, Sara, and I sat in the shade sipping Starbucks. Does summer get sweeter than those moments?

Peter and Elijah

Elijah gets as excited to see Peter as I get to see Peter’s mom, Katie!

Even catching up for a few minutes is enough to brighten my week. Thanks for sharing some of your weekend with us, Gaffney family.

We look forward to summer playdates very soon!

Whit’s Baby Shower

Graduation season comes with many parties. Elijah and I made the rounds Friday night and Saturday morning, but Saturday afternoon was a different kind of party.

Saturday afternoon we headed to Manchester to shower my friend and childhood neighbor with lots of baby girl love.

I can’t wait to meet the newest addition to the neighborhood family, Willamena.

You put passion into everything you do, Whit. Raising a daughter will be no different. She’s very lucky to have you and Jake as parents! Prayers to you and baby for a healthy delivery.

Guests departed with an awesome party favor, a bottle of wine to open when we hear the news that baby Willa has arrived. It’s already chilling in the fridge, and you can bet I’ll be toasting to you, Whit. Much love!

The Magnolia Story

I don’t buy very many books because I have a hard time justifying the cost when the library is full of books I haven’t read. The library didn’t have The Magnolia Story, and I’m glad I splurged.

If you’re not familiar with Chip and Joanna, they star in HGTV’s show Fixer Upper. The show follows these two as they help someone else find a home and remodel it to be their dream house. Their renovations are incredible! They are located in Waco, Texas with their four young children.

Even if home remodeling isn’t your thing, this book has an element for every reader. It is mostly told from Joanna’s perspective, but some chapters are all Chip. These two share their love story among all the challenges it took running a business and flipping homes. The financial struggles these two overcame is almost as inspiring as the advice Joanna offers to couples and mothers. The irony of this TV couple is that they have never owned a TV in their home. They were given marriage advice to live the first six months of marriage without one, and they’ve never turned back. The stories of Joanna talking about raising their children and watching Chip be a dad had me laughing out loud. Joanna even inspired me to clean out one of my kitchen cabinets and devote it to whatever Elijah wants to throw in there, even if that means him crawling in and out of it.

The other element I love about this book is their faith and trust in God. Through the struggles and among the blessings and fame, these two praise God.

The show highlights how much energy these two provide to one another while working side-by-side. The book is honest and inspires even more passion for life from the reader.

If you’re looking for a glimpse into their story, here is a blog post from 2012 on Design Mom that features Joanna and their beautiful home.

My college housemate lives in Waco, Texas, and a visit is overdue. I’m adding a trip to the Silos and Magnolia Market to my travel plans if we can ever coordinate our schedules.