Our Story

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Ben and I met in 1996, began dating in 1999 and married in 2001. Now 20 years and 2 children later, we have returned to where our life together began. Ben works for the Federal Reserve and I have the privilege of staying home with our two precious boys.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Ben and I have been talking for the last year about taking the boys on their first tent camping trip. We used to tent camp in our early years but haven't been since Ethan was born. Since the second week of school went off without a hitch and the weather changes from one day to the next, we jumped on the weekend outlook that showed Friday and Saturday with good weather and I packed up the car while Ethan was at school on Friday. We headed up to Desoto Falls on Friday afternoon which is about an hour to an hour and a half away and set up camp. By the time camp was set up, it was getting dark and dinnertime.

Daddy kept a great fire going and we roasted hot dogs over the fire and ate dinner then moved on to the good stuff....
S'mores! Ethan preferred roasted marshmallows as opposed to the whole s'more and made the silliest faces as he ate his marshmallows!
Caden had to figure out what he thought about the s'mores
Then we sat around the fire and the boys wanted to tell stories
Lucy had her own spot next to the fire and was in heaven checking out all of the bugs and smells of the outdoors. To say she had a blast was an understatement!
It was past bedtime...of course...by the time the boys went to bed and they could not get past their excitement of sleeping in the tent. So it was even later by the time they actually fell asleep :-)
The next morning we got up and ate a small breakfast, then a little later met up with Aunt Donna and Uncle Roger a few miles down the road to eat a big breakfast at Turner's Corner Cafe which is close to where they keep their camper set up on the weekends. Once we got back to our camp, we started breaking down so that we could go hiking. Before we left for our hike, we took pictures of the creek that backed up to our tent site. We camped at the best place! It was beautiful, peaceful, quiet, and you fell asleep listening to the water running through the creek behind you! The boys absolutely LOVED it!

Then we hiked to the lower falls. Maybe next time we can go to the upper falls, they are a bit bigger but they were further away and the boys wouldn't have been able to go the distance.
Ethan loved the hike! Caden...he had his moments ;-)
Then we made it!
Daddy, Lucy, and the boys
Mommy, Lucy, and the boys
And then it was time to hike back down
After we returned from the hike, it was time for some fishing. Ben found an awesome fishing hole in a wider part of the creek where it turned. You could see the fish just swimming around. He cast the the rod and hooked a fish, then each boy had a chance to reel it in. Everyone caught fish and then Ethan got to practice casting the line. He did a great job!
By the time we left the falls and said goodbye to Donna and Roger, it was dinnertime. We headed back down to Gainesville and stopped to eat at a childhood favorite then visited with PawPaw Forrester and Nana Lyndy for a little bit. We finally got back home around 9 and gave the boys a quick shower and put them to bed. An overnight camping trip was PERFECT! Although it is a good bit of work to set up and break down camp for a one day trip, I think for the boys it couldn't have been better. Their excitement did not lead to great sleep in the tent and with Ethan in school now, I wanted him to have a day to rest before Monday came around again.

After church the next morning, we came home and rested for a while, then spent the afternoon outside. The boys and Daddy cleaned up his car and then Ethan and Caden helped me vacuum my car and clean it up from our camping trip.

Another great weekend!!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

End of Week Celebration

We ended the first week of school with pizza and bowling! Ethan had a great first week and we wanted to celebrate. While we waited for our lane, the boys played in the arcade but once our lane opened, we got going!

The boys started off using the ramp
Ethan took his turns very seriously :-)
Then it was Mommy's and Daddy's turn

Ethan decided he longer needed the ramp and started bowling big boy style after that.
His expressions were awesome and he was hilarious to watch!

Caden stuck with the ramp for a while
 Then decided he wanted to be like everyone else
It was a great night but Ben and I underestimated how tired Ethan would be after the first week of school so we hurried home to get the boys in bed.

The next day, we headed to Lake Lanier Islands for some fun in the sun. We relaxed for a bit while the boys played in the water and then Ethan and Daddy headed to the water slides. While they did the slides, Caden and I hung out by the mini wave pool.

It was a great weekend and a wonderful way to celebrate the end of the first week of school!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

14 Year Anniversary

The weekend before school started Mimi came into town! Ben and I snuck away for a night to celebrate our 14th anniversary. We stayed downtown at the Loew's and ate dinner at The Four Seasons. It was a wonderful little getaway and while our "big" 15 year anniversary is next year and we hope to do something special, I feel like this is an important year, too.

The purpose of our blog is to provide our boys with a scrapbook of memories that details their lives and giving them little tidbits about Mom and Dad every now and then is part of that. Fourteen years is a long time and deserves to be recognized.  Ben and I dated 2 years before we married and met each other 3 years before that so we've known each other almost 20 years. In the time that we have been married, we've known friends who have married and are now divorced.

One of the most important lessons in life that I want Ethan and Caden to learn as they one day read these words in a blog book themselves is that through the ups and downs and the good and bad, it is up to them to allow God to help them choose their spouse and it is up to them to determine their future happiness in marriage by the amount of work they put into it. It is my prayer that both of our boys will seek the Lord's guidance when this time comes and will be open to listen to their Dad and I as we speak from experience and out of love for them. 

It must be a kindergarten thing because Ethan has been recently asking about who and when he will marry.  We've talked about the importance of school and college and that when the time is right God will place the right person in his life. These conversations are sweet and innocent and I pray that he stays the course and seeks God first in his endeavors throughout life. I pray that both he and Caden learn the importance of endurance and the value that comes from work in a marriage. 

Ben would never call himself a model for our children but he is a great example of a father who loves his children immensely and works hard for his family. He is a wonderful provider and has a work ethic that I pray our boys see and emulate. He has already begun to instill in the boys the importance of being able to take care of their family when they grow up. He is driven to offer Ethan and Caden opportunities to participate in events that foster their interests and he prioritizes his health because he wants to be around for our family and see his children grow up. While he sometimes gets frustrated (as do I) with the choices that they make, most of the time you will see him doing or saying something silly to make them laugh...I will completely blame him for any farting jokes said at school. You will never hear either of us say that we have a perfect marriage and I don't know anyone who does, but we work at ours and that is the lesson that I pray our boys learn. We have come a long way in our 14 years and we have done a lot of growing up and mellowing out along the way and while I think we both would probably benefit from a little more mellowing, we have created a wonderful life together. Even though there are things about each of us that I know drives the other one crazy, I pray that what we have built continues to grow...and who knows, maybe we will stop driving each other crazy one day.

Now, back to light-hearted blog stuff...
While Mommy and Daddy were away, these two had a blast swimming with Mimi.
These crab and octopus masks are hilarious!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

First Day of Big Boy Kindergarten

It's been a big summer for us! It all started with Disney, then we went through a move that unexpectedly included a change in school zones, add to that VBS, Drama camp, a couple of Science camps, the beach, and lots of other little things sprinkled throughout and it's been an action packed summer. Although I was extremely ready for the transition that comes with moving to end, I was not ready for summer to end. But it did and last week we returned early from our trip to the beach so that we didn't miss Ethan's Meet the Teacher event at his new school.

Kindergarten Meet the Teacher 2015
Mrs. Kooi and Ethan

Of course, as soon as I found out who his teacher was I immediately began checking her out and I was a little inquisitive at Meet the Teacher. He's my first baby to go to public school so I am more than a little anxious. I know I shouldn't be. Our schools are among the top in the state and I've heard great things about her. She's in her 26th year of teaching kinder. and I was told we were given the "hook-up" when they placed Ethan with her. It's all in God's hands now and I need to relax.

Either way, we enjoyed our last few days of freedom as well as a visit from Mimi and tried to get back into normal bedtime routines. Sunday evening arrived and we were ready; early bath and playtime, first day outfit, lunch and backpack ready, flowers purchased, and then special get ready for Kindergarten bedtime books were read. Monday morning came very bright and early and after bacon, eggs, and apple muffins were eaten, vitamins were taken, teeth and hair were brushed, and pictures were taken, we were finally off to school.
 Walking to the main entrance still smiling with Daddy
 Lining up with his class like a big boy
 Unpacked and building with blocks at his table...thankfully he wasn't looking at me because that's about the time I began to tear up
 After many, many long hours it was finally time to pick Ethan from school. Boy, did I miss him! I thought about him all day long; wondering what he was doing and if he was okay.
 He was all smiles and we celebrated a successful first day with ice cream, of course.
He had a wonderful first day and had great things to say. Even when we did High-Low at dinner, he said he didn't have a low to share. It would say that was a pretty successful first day of kindergarten. It is my prayer that he feels the same way each day forward.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An hour at the Farm

Even though I had hoped to get to the farm to spend the day, it was unfortunately late afternoon when we got there. Grandpa took Ethan and Caden down to see the chickens first.
Ethan came running up the hill to tell us that they were headed over to see the cows next
But Caden took the much easier route and rode with Grandpa
Grandpa must have been feeling adventurous because he decided to let Ethan drive
After seeing the cows, Caden found his farm favorite and got the red wagon. Like always, he pulled it everywhere.  
Sadly, we didn't have much time since we had to get on the road and Granny and Grandpa had to get to church. We ate dinner with Granny and Grandpa and spent a little more time with them before loading up for the trip home. We will definitely come back soon to spend a weekend with them!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Beach: Part 2

After a couple of beach days, we spent a day on the water on the Sea Dragon, a pirate cruise. Although both boys enjoyed it, Ethan totally got into it and participated in every single activity they offered on the cruise. Before we headed to the marina, we stopped by Jaws to pick up some beach gifts to take home with us.
Then it was time to check in at the marina
They started off bringing all of the kids into a big circle and the "pirates" introduced themselves to the group and told them a little about what they were going to get to do
Then everyone got warmed up with a water gun fight. Ethan jumped right in but Caden took a little to warm up and participated from my lap
The the junior pirates had to clean up their mess and "swab the deck"
After that, they got their pirate beards
And had a sword fight
Cannonball Becca fought Caden while
Ethan took care of the rest of the pirates on board :-)
Once the sword fight ended, the crew found treasure in the ocean and Pirate Jake was able to bring it on board
Becca and Jake checked it out first
Then shared it with the rest of the "crew"
Caden's treasure
Once treasure had been dispersed, what's a pirate party without the Limbo. Notice Ethan decided the easy way was better ;-)
Then you are an official pirate once you have a pirate tattoo
And here is Pirate Ethan
While we were on the cruise, we saw dolphins, Shell Island, and several snorkeling excursions. We also passed by the jetty that we swam and snorkeled on the previous day. As we passed, the Captain ordered the crew to fire the cannon. What a cute adventure!
Once we returned to land, we went back to dress for dinner. We ate at the Saltwater Grill that night and sat right next to their HUGE saltwater aquarium. I can't believe that I didn't take a picture. We spent our dinner playing I Spy with all of the fish in the aquarium. Gotta love dining with kids :-)

We finished dinner later than I had hoped because I had planned to take beach pictures of the boys after eating. Considering my subjects were Ethan and Caden I knew I needed to allow for their silliness in order to get one good picture but we started too late and the sun had already set by the time we got out there :-( Although I tried and the boys had a good time, here are some of my attempts at a decent picture...
Not this one...
Or this one, either...
Just plain silly...
The best of the bunch...and unfortunately it's just one child and he's half wet...
Oh, well, we'll try again next year
The next day the boys spent the day swimming in the pool. After swimming, we went to Schooner's to eat and sat in a booth right next to the beach. The boys perfected the art of Tic-Tac-Toe with Daddy.
All trips to the beach end too soon and we were definitely not ready for this one to end but it was time to come home. Before the drive back to Georgia, though, we had one more stop...a quick visit to the farm!