Monday, December 2, 2013

A little boy

You were probably stuffing your face with turkey and all the fixings last Thursday. I won't lie; we were too. But, we were also celebrating the milestone of six years as parents. Our first born, turned six, and I'm at a loss for words when trying to think about where the time went.

Six sounds so much older than five. Mostly because the preschool years are behind us. Those carefree mornings watching Curious George and pjs until 10 am are farther and fewer between. I cannot complain though, I have done my best to savor those days. And, this precious little baby of mine has grown into a curious and handsome little boy who loves learning. Just yesterday as my mind was flooded with the responsibilities looming this week, he piped in about how thankful he was that today was Monday, so he could go back to school!

Is there a lump in my throat or a tear or two rolling down my cheek as I think back to that day six years ago? Of course, that's the day I became a mom. Like most would probably admit, I felt ill prepared for parenting, despite the numerous books and articles I'd read (insert eye roll here). It really is true what they say about deciding to become a parent. It is the decision to forever allow your heart to walk around outside your body. 

As more time passes, I'm realizing that the best preparation for becoming a parent has been my faith in Jesus Christ. I have absolute certainty in God's unfailing love. His love has been so incredibly demonstrated and His plan for my life and the lives of my family members is meant to glorify Him. I can trust in His plan.

Part of that trusting is letting go of those snuggly mornings and impromptu play dates at the park. But, because God is good, those sweet memories give way to spontaneous trips for ice dream after school and listening to my oldest read. He's not a baby; he's a little boy. Besides, six doesn't sound anywhere near as old as seven, and we're still a whole year away from that.

But, then they have to pay me!

Several months back I blogged about my future astronaut, who turned six on Thursday, by the way. As can be expected with children who have barely begun their school years, he's changed his life's ambition yet again.

Both our boys have a bit of an obsession with New York City. Jack's is partly thanks to the Big Apple Adventure VBS theme a couple of summers ago. Anyway, Jack has decided since he'd like to live in New York, he would like to drive a taxi. Never one to squash dreams, we have assured him that he can be the best taxi driver in New York City.

On the way home from bible study tonight the topic came up again. Sam, our three-year-old, was lamenting about the fact that Josh would not be home when we got there, "I wish Daddy didn't have night work on this night."

I reminded him that God had called our daddy to be helper and that tonight was a night that he was doing his best to help people. Jack added, "that's what all jobs are; they are to help people." After a short pause, he added, "except the job I'm going to do. It's not really helping people."

Just to test his current mood, I explored, "Really? What job are you going to do?" He said, "You know...a taxi driver." In the spirit of encouragement I assured him that taxi drivers help people get where they need to go. I went further in an effort to emphasize, "One day you may pick up someone who is sick or maybe even a pregnant lady who is about to have a baby, and you'll need to drive them to the hospital. That will be helpful."

Without even a pause, he chimed in, "but, then they have to pay me."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Giving Thanks

Jack enjoying the turkey cookie he made @ school. 

Sam getting his fill of a turkey cupcake.

Cute kindergarten Indians. 

In Plenty & In Want

The daily devotion I'm working through this month has a theme of thankfulness. Shocker, I know. Today it challenged me about being thankful in times of plenty and in want. You've heard it before; give thanks for your circumstances. In need, hunger, pain, suffering and gratitude. But, I think I had glossed over what a privilege it is to give thanks in times of plenty.

Sure, I give thanks for the food that graces my table, the three sweet guys that gather around it with me and the roof above our heads. I've even thanked God when I found the missing shoe or that overdue library book. But, plenty is not just these fleeting moments.

"Plenty is not just a season or a lifestyle enjoyed by a group of lucky people, just as want is not just a sad face emoji that begs to be prayed for and brought a meal. We cannot simply characterize our circumstances on a sliding scale from famine to abundance because, for the believer, plenty and want are constant states of being" - She Reads Truth, 11/22/13

Each of us have real, tangible, plentiful blessings. In reality, our constant state is a want and need for grace. I'm so thankful I know the ultimate and faithful supplier! I'm challenging myself to count my blessings not just because it's a time of thanksgiving, but because it honors my God and His generous love for me!

"Think how much grace one saint requires, so much that nothing but the Infinite could supply him for one day; and yet the Lord spreads his table, not for one, but many saints, not for one day, but for many years; not for many years only, but for generation after generation." - Charles Spurgeon

Do you need an overflowing cup of His mercy today?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Scenes of Fall

Gracious, he's cute!

Celebrated the end of our first flag football experience with a trot around the Raider field!

We can't ever get enough s'mores around this place!

Cheering our ducks on at Jaemor

Survived the corn maze yet again!

Pumpkin cookie decorating

He looks so innocent...

This guy is wild!

Such a corny kid!

Trunk or Treat fun with friends!

Jack carving his jack'o lantern!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Running for fun



A fun night running under the twinkling lights @ Lake Lanier Islands. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

But, if not...

Every morning I have a short devotional I read using the bible app on my phone. For the last few months, I've been using the devotions written by the ministry She Reads Truth. The devotions are written by women and for women. The topics are almost always relevant to something I'm dealing with.

The current series is on Daniel, and this morning as we reached chapter 3, some popular characters arrived on the scene: Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego (or Rack, Shack & Benny, if you prefer VeggieTale nicknames). If you grew up hearing bible stories, it's likely you've heard this one. King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold and commanded all to bow to it and worship it when the horns, harps or any kind of music was sounded. Those refusing to do so would be placed in the fiery furnace.

Being fully devoted followers, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego refused to worship the golden image. So, of course King Nebuchadnezzar summoned them. He gave them an opportunity to deny their "crime." Here's where the story gets really good. The three friends told the king they trusted their God to deliver them from the fiery furnace and from the king's hand. Then comes verse 18: 

"But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."

If you've heard the story before, you probably remember that God did indeed deliver these three friends from the fiery furnace and even make a believer out of King Nebuchadnezzar. But, for me, the beauty in today's passage was in verse 18. That simple phrase, "but if not..."

These three men were so devoted in their faith they didn't require a guarantee that they'd be rescued or even kept from harm for their devotion. Many times I think because I've prayed about something and I've trusted God's will on a matter that it should be all roses and sunshine. 

God never promised us this life would be easy. In fact, His word says quite the opposite through His faithful servant, Paul: "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance." Romans 5:3. In I Peter 3:17, we read: "For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil."

But, this is not just a post on praising Him in your suffering. This is about praising Him even if He never delivers you from that suffering. Would I have the faith to say, "But if not..." 

Dear God, 
Heal my broken-hearted friend, strengthen my sister, help people to move on, surround my struggling friend, put an end to the disappointment, honor your servants, BUT IF are still good.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

We'll call it a First Date

Now that big brother is in kindergarten until 3:00, little brother and I eat a lot of lunches alone. Every now and then, we stop by Chick-fil-A, but most days is just a sandwich. 

On the days Sam goes to preschool, I pick him up at noon. Almost immediately he wants to know what's next. Typically, I tell him we're heading home for lunch and ask what he wants. Standard answer is a cheese sandwich. Oh, and star-shaped. And he'll add that he'll help make the star.

Today I asked him after pick up what he wanted for lunch. He said, "how about a taco?!" I chuckled and recommended we stop by the bell and pick one up. He said, "no...I want us to go to El Patron!" I considered it an invitation. So, to El Patron we went, and it was five bucks well spent. Taco for him, tortillas for me and cheese dip for us. 

Already looking forward to our next date!

Friday, August 30, 2013


So, I go weeks without posting and now, I'm on the verge of a third post this week. Write this down, people. It may never happen again. I guess when the spirit moves (and when Veggie Tales viewing by your 3 y/o occurs), you take advantage.

Over the course of several weeks multiple situations have caused me to reevaluate my convictions. I like to think of myself as somewhat level headed, but who knows if others share that same opinion. Maybe you just think I'm laid back. Honestly, I'm just really good at playing it cool. Recent incidents have led me to truly examine my heart and give thought, prayer and reflection to every situation before reacting. 

I think it's easy to say, "I'm staying out of it." It's harder to actually do so. I'm not a choosing sides kinda girl. In the last few months, I have developed a new (or what some may call weird) point of view on relationships. Personally, I strive to base my relationships with others on my first-hand experiences with them. I don't want to fall victim to hearsay, others spin on things or even "the real truth." Often times, we tell ourselves that being educated about others' actions protects us. To a certain extent that is true. If you have encountered a vicious animal or known predator lurking at the park where I take my children to play, I'd like to think you'd warn me.

The flip side of that is that everyone deserves to be able to represent themselves. Well, what if they misrepresent themselves, is what you'll say to me. My response would be that is a risk that I feel God has asked me to take. It's my conviction. It may not be yours, and that's okay. But, please don't assume that means I'm playing the fence. He asked me to step out on faith and love others...even the ones that are hard to love.

I will, of course, protect myself and my family, but I also want to give everyone a fair shake. In my book, no one is guilty by association. If you've been a friend to me, I want to be a friend to you. Along with that, we both must recognize that we may not share the same friends, but that doesn't mean we can't love each other and love Jesus.

In the end, we must keep perspective. These little bumps in the road, these situations that seem impossible, these encounters that appear hopeless are all just reminders that we are imperfect and this is not our home. Thankful I serve a perfect Savior. Praying I can continue to recognize the convictions He gives and embrace them.

Confession: I'm Feeling Thankful for His Hedge

Yes, tomorrow is the start of the football season for my beloved Dawgs, but this post isn't about those hedges that adorn my favorite fall Saturday hangout. If you know me, than you know that I'm certainly thankful college football season has arrived. But, today I'm feeling thankful for a different reason, and that's something one should never hide. There's too much hurt, sorrow and complaining in the world, to not share when you feel a dose of blessings. Don't get me wrong, I've hit some bumps in the road the last several hours and been surprised by His plan, but I can't help but feel thankful for God's leading.

I was sharing with my hubby last night that despite various circumstances, I felt ultimately that God had been looking out for me. Then, minutes later a friend tweeted a similar message about gratitude for God's hedge of protection. Sometimes, we don't notice that hedge until much later. But, when we do sense its presence, we suddenly realize it's always been there.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The "C" Word

It scares us. It's hard to embrace. It is almost always uncertain. That ugly "C" word...CHANGE.

Even though it can be hard, I've always managed to embrace change and find excitement in the newness of things. Moving or changing your residence can be difficult. With the exception of moving in 1st grade, each of the times I've moved, it was with great excitement about what was ahead. From my parent's home to my first apartment, which then became the first residence my husband and I shared. From that little apartment to our first home. From that first home to the one we live in now. One that was selected with the little ones in mind.

Other times it is the change from a single person to a married person or vice versa for some people very dear to me. Or changing from a couple to a family of three, four, five or more. It was exciting to change from a single woman to a wife. Despite planning, I felt poorly equipped to tackle the role of mother. I'm pretty sure most women do; it's our nature. But, even that change was one that was coupled with excitement.

The church we attend and have been members of for almost six years now, is adding an additional worship service that will differ in style from those previously offered. I must admit I've scoffed at those that find this change drastic, unimaginable or detrimental. "What's the big deal?" I think to myself. I guess because I've never really struggled much with change in my life. This seemed no different; not to mention I'll more than likely enjoy the new worship style.

So, why all this rambling about change? It's because I've met my struggle, people, and it's name is kindergarten. Honestly, it's probably a whole host of other things I have going on. Why does everything start up at the same time? It's like we're all blissfully enjoying summer with hot days running through the sprinkler, picnics with friends, movies at the drive-in, popcorn for breakfast, long summer nights, popsicles on the porch after dinner, catching lightning bugs in the yard and then BAM! Hello, early mornings, socially acceptable breakfasts, lunch packing, homework, football practice, bible study, awana, exhaustion and reasonable bedtimes.

Getting moving in the morning was a lot easier when it meant just making it to preschool by 9 a.m. I'm having more than a little trouble embracing the new normal, which is alarms, waking blissfully sleeping children, and often times grumbling. I know we've had it good. I'm not complaining. I'm just revealing my current struggle, friends.

I looked up the definition for change:

to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone

That first part seemed to make sense. I'd heard it before. Change is making something different from what it is, but that second part jumped out to me. It's also making things different from what they would be if left alone, altering its future course. Perhaps it's my faith in an incredible God, but I have to believe that change is necessary. If things were left alone, those early morning snuggles watching Curious George wouldn't be so precious in my memory now. I'd have little reason to look forward to Saturdays.

Just as change is inevitable and necessary, so is growth. As much as I loathe these early mornings and long afternoons waiting to pick up big brother, I believe God has something in store. Praying He keeps showing me ways to celebrate this new season of change.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is it 3:00 yet?

The verdict is in, and he loves kindergarten. The jury is still out as far as mama is concerned. It was such a long day, and I just can't believe he can do without me for that long. I realize I've been very blessed to have had the opportunity to spend so many of my firstborn's hours right alongside him. We conquered mother's morning out and preschool, and mom even enjoyed the freedom to grocery shop alone. But, seven hours is a huge chunk of your day when you're only awake for 13-14 hours.

I'm so glad that he loves it, and he thinks his teacher is great. It's just going to take this sentimental mama some time to get used to the new reality. As a full-time mom, so much of my recent identity and achievements has been tied to this precious five-year-old and his wild little brother. They need me, but just a little less each day. Each of us has a purpose and gifts in this life, and I'm having to adjust to the changing landscape around me.

The old adage about your little ones growing up too fast is true, of course, but it seems I've managed to find ways to celebrate each and every milestone on this beautiful journey of parenthood. This one, however, is proving to be a wee bit more difficult. The celebration and gratitude will come, it always does.

In the meantime, just ignore the women sobbing at the stop sign or zoned out on the juice box aisle. She's looking for the next clearing in the landscape, the next place to share her gifts and probably wishing, hoping and praying for her watch to hit 3:00 already.

more photos from the first day

Monday, July 22, 2013

Take Ten

Ten years and ten days. That's how long I've had the blessing of marriage. When you add the five years before we said, "I do," Josh and I have been together for almost half our lives. What a journey it's been. Meeting during our undergraduate years at the University of Georgia meant supporting each other through graduations, first jobs, medical school, another graduation and eventually residency. By the time we celebrated our fourth anniversary, we had claimed our third mutual address. Later that year, we took the leap into the incredible world of parenting. And, suddenly five more years vanished and we've found a community to call home. I certainly had no idea ten years ago that I'd soon be a mother to two boys, much less living in a place called Habersham. Looking back on ten years, I might have guessed we'd buy our first home and start a family, but I couldn't have imagined the fantastic joy that would grow each day married to my best friend. So thankful for the blessing that he is each and every moment. I love you more than words can say, and I'm humbled to be on this journey with you by my side. Thank you for loving me!

Friday, July 19, 2013


I like the idea of blogging more than the actual doing it. Yesterday, I took a nap. It was a pretty glorious 30 minutes, too. I also cleaned out my closet yesterday. I have enough clothes to go without repeating for probably at least a year, but I'm pretty sure I wear the same dozen outfits over and over. Time to let go of some things. While purging and straightening my closet, I caught a glimpse of my tall riding boots. I longed for fall, albeit for a brief moment, this lover of long summer nights and minimally scheduled days wished for cooler weather. I'm a little freaked out about my oldest starting kindergarten in about a month! Seriously, where did the time go. No more morning snuggles and waltzing out the door to 9 a.m. preschool. Several times of day I think of a really great subject to blog about, but I rarely log on and commit. I've had s'mores twice this week. Anything you want to confess?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Nap time humor

About once or twice a week for the last few weeks, Sam wakes up from his nap missing a sock. I realized a couple weeks ago that a sock wasn't missing but instead two socks had been placed on the same foot. I thought, "that's a funny mistake."

After multiple incidents, I'm thinking it isn't a mistake, so today I said, "Sam, why do you do that?"

He looked right at me and said, "because it is so funny!"

P.S. Today he had 3 socks on the same foot. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Disney Diaries, Post 8 (Lights, Camera, Action!)

Our final park day was another repeat day that could be used anywhere. Since Jack had expressed such a love for the Indiana Jones stunt show (without even realizing he'd only seen a small fraction of it), we decided to return to Hollywood Studios. We started our morning at the Legend of Jack Sparrow, which we skipped during our Tuesday visit.

While we were waiting to enter the pirate ride, Jack spotted the face painting tent. I don't know if you've ever seen these face painting tents, but it's not your average girl scout painting rainbows and hearts to raise a few bucks. These are full-face designs. My sweet five-year-old angel had his heart set on becoming Darth Maul (something like this). Thankfully, we were able to talk him into the superhero half mask, which turned out so adorable, I mean brave and cool. Seriously, I want to paint his face like that again...just because it was so darn cute heroic!

Since we had hit all the big rides our first visit, we were able to enjoy more shows this visit. One of the highlights was the Disney Junior, LIVE. Jack loved seeing Jake & the Neverland Pirates, and both boys loved seeing it "snow" during the show and chasing gold doubloons that fell from the sky. Of course, we enjoyed Toy Story Mania and Star Tours again.

Just before noon, we headed over for the 12:30 Indiana Jones stunt show. As we headed into the show, a castmember stopped us at the gate and asked if we would like to be part of the show. He said he was still looking for a pair of Junior Directors. He told us the boys would have to start the show by saying, "Lights, Camera, Action," and we'd get reserved seats down front. Jack was so excited! Josh and I were pretty tickled too. We couldn't help but think this was all part of our returning to HS on our last day.

Annie, the casting director, came over and introduced herself to the boys. She talked to them about what she'd need them to do and gave them a great dose of encouragement. At this point, we were still thinking they'd both go down there, but that Jack would do all the talking. Once she called for them to come out and start the show, Sam would not stand idly by. That boy loves the microphone, and Annie wouldn't deny him the chance. It was a precious memory!

Lights Camera Action from Laura Garrett on Vimeo.

After the show, Annie returned to tell the boys what a great job they had done and to see if we'd like to meet the two stars of the stunt show. We hung around for a while and were able to share the sweet story of how much Jack had enjoyed the show on Tuesday, all five minutes of it! Even they agreed it had been nothing short of Disney magic that had brought us back that day.

Of course, nothing could top being junior directors at the stunt show, but Sam kept mentioning the haunted hotel (aka the Tower of Terror.) He said many times, "I'll be okay in the haunted hotel." Josh assured him we were not going to make them ride it again. Finally he said, "No, I want to!" Jack thought his brother was crazy! I opted to wait with big brother while Josh took Sam for another ride on the Tower of Terror. He was great.

We called a day a little early, and it wasn't a moment too soon. The rain hit just as we reached the bus stop. As we headed back to the resort, Sam fell asleep on the bus. We relaxed in the lobby and then had dinner at one of the hotel restaurants, which Sam slept right through. Later, the boys played happily with a couple of their trip treasures while Josh and I packed up our room from eight days of sheer fun! We paused to take in the Water Parade from one of the resort docks. The lighted water parade seems to be one of those under appreciated treasures, and I enjoyed getting to share it with the boys. We finished our day by munching on Josh's leftover birthday cake. 

The next morning we were up bright and early to catch our bus to the airport. We had a flight to catch and a brand new nephew/cousin to meet!

Friday Favorites:
Jack: "Seeing the whole Indiana Jones show and getting my face painted."
Sam: "the haunted hotel with Daddy."
Josh: "the boys being picked as junior directors."
Laura: "watching Sam & Jack start the stunt show."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Disney Diaries, Post 7 (Lions, Tigers & Gorillas?)

Thursday was our day to explore the wildlife and activity at Disney's Animal Kingdom park. We started bright and early with breakfast with Donald and the whole crew in their best safari gear at the Tusker House. Hands down, it was our favorite character meal. The food was fantastic, and it wasn't as loud and chaotic as the other two we had done. Another advantage to character meal breakfasts is you can score early park admission if you're willing to schedule them early enough. We did both our character breakfasts at 8 a.m. at parks that didn't open until 9. We were out roaming the park getting in position for the rides that fill up fastest before others had even gained admission. At Disney, it really is true: "the early bird gets the worm!"

We headed to Kilamanjaro Safaris first. Despite the chill in the air, we were not disappointed with our ride. We were able to see so many incredible animals. Sam was delighted to see the giraffes, "they're my fav-wit!" We got glimpses of lions, elephants and many other exotic creatures. Later we took the trail to see the gorillas, and the train over to the petting zoo. Sam loved brushing the goats, and Jack really enjoyed seeing the pigs up close.

Closer to the Tree of Life, we spotted a kangaroo darting around and took a stroll to see the tigers. I talked Jack into braving Expedition Everest with me, but just like Space Mountain...he declined the opportunity to ride again with his daddy.

Both the boys really loved the Boneyard play area. There was tons of slides, climbing structures, nets, ladders and fun. It was challenging to keep up with them in the huge space, but we managed to escape with the same two boys we entered with. Since Sam was tall enough for the Dinosaur ride, we all did it together. Neither of the boys were very crazy about it, but I was interested to see Claire Huxtible posing as a paleontologist.

Sam, eventually gave up the good fight and hit for the series...falling asleep in the last of the four WDW parks. While he snoozed, Jack got a frozen coke and watched the Jungle Jam parade. We ate an early dinner at Yak & Yeti, and then headed back to the resort to swim. Again, I elected to watch as it was still not warm enough for this gal.

Funny side story: when we waited for our turn at the obligatory family photo in front of The Tree of Life at AK, I noticed the couple posing in front of us looked really familiar. I was trying so hard to place them. Then, it hit me! It was a reality tv couple that had met on one of the seasons of Survivor, a show I used to watch faithfully! I couldn't remember their names, but Josh nailed it...Boston Rob and Amber. In case you were wondering they're still together and appear to have three little girls.

Jack & Josh shared their Thursday favorite in the Kilamanjaro Safari expedition. My favorite moment was riding Expedition Everest with Jack, despite that he was miserable. And, of course Sam's favorite would involve food..."the doughnut at breakfast!" I told you the breakfast at Tusker House was good.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Disney Diaries, Post 6 (Repeat, Rest & Recharge)

With three busy, fun-filled park days with early starts and late finishes behind us, I had planned Wednesday to be a repeat day. I didn't have the day completely planned out (shocker, I know)! We had purchased a six-day park pass, so I knew we'd repeat two of the parks. My husband suggested we let everyone sleep in and catch up on their rest. Now, I'm a girl who appreciates her sleep, don't get me wrong. But, something about sleeping in at Disney goes against everything this gal stands for...namely squeezing every ounce of fun (and value) out of our time at the parks! I did agree, but by about 9 a.m., I was getting antsy, and Jack was working on his second hour of iPad activity. We finally woke Sam up just before 10. I suggested the Magic Kingdom for time's was the closest and most convenient and the crowd calendar suggested it would be a light day.

It was a cloudy day with thunderstorms threatening, but the rain held off until the evening. We went back to the rides we had skipped like Winnie the Pooh and the Barnstormer, and hit our favorites again. Of course that meant two more trips through the Haunted Mansion, Jack's favorite ride, and twice more on Thunder Mountain, Sam's favorite.

Jack had talked a big game about riding Space Mountain, but then chickened out on Sunday when he got a glimpse inside while aboard the People Mover. On our repeat trip to MK, he decided he'd give it a go after being assured it would not go upside down. So, Josh took him along. Of course, he survived, but he declined to accompany me a second go. So, I rode solo. I encouraged Jack by reminding him I did not enjoy Space Mountain when I was his age. The way my parents tell the story, the 4-year-old version of me (upon exiting Space Mountain) said, "who's idea was it to ride that?"

Later, before the rain rolled in we hopped a boat to the Wilderness Lodge for dinner at the Whispering Canyon. It was probably our favorite dinner. The meal is served family style, which any man would love. Not to mention the impromptu stick horse races that break out during mealtime. Just be careful if you ask for ketchup!

Jack's highlight was "the haunted house again!" And Sam was delighted to get to do the race cars at Tomorrowland Speedway again. Josh's favorite was dinner at Whispering Canyon and Space Mountain. My treasured memory from Wednesday was getting to ride Thunder Mountain twice, once with each of my boys!

And since I was determined to get a shot of the boys in front of the castle in their mouse ear shirts, we headed back to the MK for a quick photo shoot before bedtime. Such troopers!