Anniversary week and fall break

Our anniversary fell on a Saturday this year, and while last year’s anniversary celebration was bigger and better, this year was just as sweet. There was no trip, no big event to signify No. 17, no big gifts or hurrahs. Just a lazy day at home and a lovely dinner in town, just the two of us. Contentment means life is good wherever you are.

Our anniversary kicked off fall break, so the week has been punctuated by long runs (me), hunting (Chuck and Jeremy), and lots of sleeping in and reading (Jackson).

Yesterday we went to Dollywood, the one thing we said we’d do over fall break. We had season passes in 2011, and I’m pretty sure we took the boys again in 2012 or 2013, but my memory fails me so I can’t be sure. Regardless, it’s been a minute since we’ve been to Dollywood.

Much like our experience last summer at Hershey Park, we rode a few coasters together, then the old people bowed out. Jeremy and Jackson love riding roller coasters together, which is a gift to these two parents. Have at it, boys. Have at it.

As the day wore down and the crowds increased, we ran into Jimmy and the kids (Lesli arrived later, but we missed her!). Since Jimmy was flying solo for a couple of hours, we stepped in as co-pilots for a few rides.

Be still my heart when Catherine, the sweet, shy introvert who takes her time with people, insisted I ride a kiddie coaster with her! Foolish to resist, I agreed enthusiastically and off we went to stand in line. She instructed me on how to hold her close on the ride – just like Mama does – and even held her arms in the air on the last go around. I’ve been around this little one since birth, since she eagle-eyed me in the hospital: 

Now she snaps pictures with me willingly, not shy, not reserved, and I couldn’t be happier:

The other thing I’ve done over fall break is clean out the boys’ closets and dressers. They are blessed with so many hand-me-downs that I haven’t bought clothes for them in years. After sorting through the many things I found underneath Jackson’s bed, I held my breath at this last little gem – a note from Jeremy to Jackson, many years old now:

It is a sweet reminder that while we may be in a rough season of picking and prodding, there is love there. Thank goodness, y’all, because 11 and 14 are tough ages. I’ll take every reminder I can get.

Throwback Thursday: Twelve years of friendship

We send Ethan home today after being my third son for a short week. I wasn’t present at his birth because while Ethan was making his arrival in Chattanooga Chuck and I were in North Carolina waiting on Jeremy. The boys are five hours apart. It was the sort of supernatural gift only God could orchestrate for two best friends.

Jeremy and Ethan collage

In 2007:

jeremy and ethan in 2007

In 2014:

Jeremy and Ethan in 2014

They’re quite a pair. No matter how much time passes they seem to pick right up and forget they live in different cities. My hope is that this friendship goes on infinitely, that it matures and sticks. Eventually our parental efforts will wane and it will be up to them to carry it on. Until then, we’ll continue these visits as little deposits into their future.

Yesterday we went to the Sunsphere and a local playground. The weather was completely perfect.

Knoxville Sunsphere

From atop the sunsphere

The water they can't play in

I love how Jackson smiles with his eyes. 

Jack smiles with his eyes

Thanks for coming to visit Ethan! You always have a place here.

Jeremy and Ethan Knoxville 2015

Jeremy and Ethan at the playground

Jeremy and Ethan play 2015

Fall Break Guest No. 1

This is a week of house guests, starting with Ethan for four days. Love this boy so much! He and Jeremy have been friends since birth because Karin and I made sure of it. 

Today I took the boys bouldering.

Big cliff

Bouldering

Squeeze

The older boys in black and white

The view of Maryville

Major loved it, but he tuckered out after an hour and found a spot to rest. He could watch all of us from this point, which is an endearing quality he has. He’s noticeably happier when everyone is together.

Major goes bouldering

Group shot bouldering

Other than bouldering, the boys have played outside most of the time and binged on Minecraft at night. Ethan calls me his second mom, which is the best compliment ever. He’s already asked to stay an extra night.