Category Archives: Christmas

Family Photos

With Andy’s immediate family we draw names for Christmas.  Each couple gets another couple to buy gifts for.  The older I get the harder it is to buy Christmas gifts and to put a “wish list” out there for people to buy us stuff.  I am to the point if I need something, we get it.  If I want something, eventually, we get it.  So telling people what I want or need has become more difficult (and the times that I gave the brand of shampoo, toothpaste, conditioner etc it was laughed at as a joke).  Last year we had Andy’s parents as the couple we were buying for.  I think they feel similar because they couldn’t think of anything they wanted or needed for their Christmas wish list.

Part of the problem was that they were in the process of packing boxes and moving and with most things they packed his mom would say something along the lines of why did she had so much “stuff.”  I didn’t want to add to the stuff she needed to pack so we thought extremely hard on what to get them.  We decided to get her a gift card so that she could have family photos done by a professional.  Not just my camera and tri-pod.  They seemed happy with their gift card.  Fast forward to 10 months later and they lined up using the gift.

I don’t like pictures anyways.  We will start there.  But we went into town (I had a dentist appointment too) and got dressed up.  I straightened my hair (which is always an ordeal) and put on mascara and lipstick and we did this picture thing.  The photographer did great and worked fast.  The nieces and nephew seemed to smile for all the pictures.  It worked out nicely as a good gift.


See the kids looked great.

I smiled and hoped it would reach my eyes.  The entire time I was watching our nieces run around with our nephew I couldn’t help but think that Addy should be here with her cousins.  Each time one of Andy’s siblings asked if they should be holding the kids, I couldn’t help but think I want to hold Addy in our pictures.  I couldn’t help but think that she would have fit right in with them.  I couldn’t help but think of how unfair it was that she wasn’t with us.  I couldn’t think too hard because then I would shed the tears that were hiding behind my hopefully real looking, fake, smile.  The photographer would say “family with girls” or “family with the boy” and then “you two.”  To her credit she didn’t say “childless couple” because had she, I would have lost it right there in the park with my mascara running down my face.  She didn’t know where we have been.  It isn’t her fault at all.  But standing there with my in-laws in front of the picture.  To the right of the picture was their oldest child, his wife, and 2 daughters in a tight little clump.  To the left but still middle of the picture was their youngest child, her husband, and their son in a tight little clump.  To the far left was their middle child, and me.  And a heart so full of holes and sorrow.  But that was our clump.  I love Andy with everything I have but there is still that emptiness.  Addy should have been there.  I miss the dreams and answers to prayers that she represented.  I miss the what could have beens.  But mostly I just miss her.

Infertility sucks.  In my story, nothing emphasizes that more than “family” stuff.  Be it holidays, vacations, going out to eat together, or family photos…family stuff is hard – yes still (and sometimes worse than before).  We have been travelling this road far too long.  We are no stranger to sadness and disappointment and loss.  One would think we could “get over it already and be happy.”  But family is hard.  Family reminds me of that family I don’t have.

Holidays are fast approaching and I feel like there will be some moments I sneak out of rooms, or step out onto the porch for fresh air.  There will be times I lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes just to breathe and give myself permission to be sad and happy.  To give myself the grace and space I need to grieve the could have beens.  To quietly brush a tear off my check.  Yes, I live infertility each and every day, but holidays are a different battle.  All of that to say – forgive me if you turn to ask for a refill on your wine, or to pass the salt and pepper and you are telling my back as I am walking away.

north carolina Christmas 2014

some photos from Christmas in charlotte (2014).

ellen cheesing for the camera

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cj (i don’t know what is up with the snowflake headband)


andy reading three donkeys and a donkey to cj.

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presents and cake!

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group photo (didn’t know which one I liked better)!

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always great to see family.

tennessee Christmas 2014

this past Christmas we started a new tradition.  we went and picked our own tree (from a tree lot – in front of a big lots).  ok so we didn’t go out to a farm and cut one down, but we walked around the millions (hundreds) of trees and saw them standing tall and walked all the way around them.  we picked our tree and home we went!  (a little dark and bad – but I wanted to remember the occasion)!


the hardest part of dealing with a tree is otis.  when we bring it in otis thinks that it is his tree.  he gets so excited and we crush his hopes and dreams because we establish quickly that it isn’t his!  but he likes to help andy put the lights on the tree and check it out.

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I love Christmas.  it has really become my favorite time.  I love the decorating, the movies (including, to andy’s annoyance, the hallmark Christmas movies), the books, the excitement in kids….just about everything.

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this past year otis did good and stayed out of the gifts like he does each year. he was; however, horrible about using the tree skirt as a sled around the room.  he would get a running start and come flying around the corner and slide the skirt to the middle of the room.

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otis loves presents

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andy and jack decided to do ugly sweater Christmas so we put otis in a sweater as well.  the thing is otis loves his sweater!

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it is always nice to see family!

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out takes of trying to get a picture of the little cousins.  it was hilarious.

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lucas was really excited about the snow globe in the box.  he kept pulling the box closer and closer.

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otis got dressed in a small tree skirt and a joker/elf collar.

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we made our wreath this year.  we also added to our Christmas yard art!

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otis was also so helpful when I was trying to wrap gifts.  he also tried to get andy to love his sweater as much as he loves his!

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Christmas 2014 was the end of an era.  that was the last Christmas morning I would wake up in that house.  ever since I can remember we would be in greeneville on Christmas eve and I would wake up in that house each Christmas morning.  now that we have our own house (if you didn’t know – surprise) I will wake up Christmas morning somewhere new.  andy has said several times that I can go over there and sleep.  so I am nervous and excited about this new change of events!  (in a few months I will let you know how it went).

camera clean up

so part of the reason I am bad at blogging is 1. because my computer is slow and 2. because it takes me forever to get my photos off my camera and get them organized.

something I found that I realized I never posted were some Christmas decoration pictures on our anniversary tree and our last ornaments for year 6.  year 6 was iron and candy.

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we added a giant kiss and twix bar ornament (the kiss was too heavy for the little tree so it just sat under it).  and for the iron we actually found a little iron and a frying pan.  I painted the frying pan solid black after Christmas and now it looks like a mini cast iron skillet.  I love how our anniversary ornament tree comes together each year and how we get to add something to it each year after celebrating another year of marriage.

Dec. 2013

if November was long and exhausting December was just as crazy.

that tree that we brought home from charlotte got put up (not really in a timely manner but it got put up and decorated (finally).  each year at Christmas we have a real tree.  i grew up in a home with a fake tree (we always traveled at Christmas so it didn’t make sense to have a real one) and andy grew up in a family that had a real tree.  we compromised and now we have a real tree (the compromise is that andy will water the devil out of the tree because i am so scared it will catch on fire – too much rescue 911 as a child).  back to my point…each year when andy brings the real tree in the house Otis gets so excited his entire butt wags.  this year he seemed overly excited so we sat him down and explained that the tree wasn’t his and he wrinkled his forehead and dropped his ears and looked at me like i ruined his life.


dec 5th would have been leslie’s 30 birthday.  i can’t believe it.  i miss her so much.  on top of being a little sad anyways it was a day from hell at work.  there were cancelled clinics, emergency case to go to surgery, bumped surgeries because of the emergencies, rude people and nothing went right.  tension was high among all and at the end of the day we all just looked at each other and shook our heads.  it was a train wreck of the day and i was glad to get home and be off that train for a night.  i will say with as bad of a day as it was my coworkers are rock stars and make even the worst day manageable.

the next day i was freaking out because i couldn’t find my camera cord.  i looked everywhere and called all of the places i had been to make sure it didn’t magically jump out of my camera bag.  this panic went on for a few weeks.  (no worries i found it after a few weeks – in my bag that i never unpacked from thanksgiving – that will teach me to not unpack).

dec 7th dr. scott (nat) took the girls to Asheville for our Christmas gift.  we did some shopping and went to grove park inn for dinner.  it was so much fun to hang out with all of the ladies outside of work.  we shopped until we almost dropped and thankfully we ran out of time because we ran out of room in the van.  on the way home we ran into some thick fog and thought we were going to die…but we didn’t.  we laughed and laughed.  i love these ladies!

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i bought a lawn ornament (ok yes i did but i love it and i have no shame).  it is a tobacco stick with two old records melted and painted to look like a flower.  i will post pictures this spring when andy lets me put it in the yard.  he wasn’t all that excited about it.

we put out Christmas decorations.  each year a little more gets added to our yard and i LOVE it.  this year we added a little snowman and some deer to the doghouse and the word noel.  it looked so great.  the wind was really bad so we had some issues with our big snowman and the deer but it all worked out.  one night when i was doing laundry i heard the wind blowing really hard and looked out the window and saw that a deer fell over and the snowman had his head blown back and arms out so it looked like he was praying for the deer.  it was really funny (or maybe you had to be there).

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i will share other Christmas decoration photos of the inside of the house soon (in another post).

Otis had a seizure on thee 21st.  he seems to be doing ok with it and had no lingering effects.  just slows him down for a little bit.  i had this long to do list and in the middle of being productive he had the seizure.

other big news in dec is that we updated our phones.  we both now have iPhones.  i no longer have a flip phone.  it has been a little weird.  i still don’t really use it other than to call, text, and take some pictures.  i don’t really use the internet or anything that will use up data.  just don’t feel right about that for some reason.

we went to a surprise graduation party for david (nat’s husband).

we had Christmas here.  Otis got boots and hated them.  once we get his nails trimmed we will post a video of him wearing them.  he played with Bryson.  they ran in the house and chased each other.  they howled and screamed together.  it was really funny.  my grandmother got a headlight and it was so funny to watch her and my great-aunt open gifts.  Otis also had a blast playing and wouldn’t share with dad even when he got in the floor to play with him.  we were also very thankful that Andrew got back to the states.  he was deployed overseas and it was great to see him and to know that he is “home.”

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we went to charlotte for Christmas.  we had fun with the family.  andy, erik, and Katie got hornets gear and had fun reminiscing with that!  we got the girls a bug this year (ellen is too young to use it but it should last until she is older so that they will get a lot of years out of it.  cj isn’t so good at driving (at least she wasn’t when she got it) hopefully she will get better before she turns 16!

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andy also decided to do no shave november and i didn’t notice until the middle of dec that he still didn’t shave – so he looked pretty shaggy.

a little cousin was born in december:  logan ross made his appearance and him and his mama are healthy and his daddy is proud.

church was crazy.  we had a ton of events that seemed to be unending.  we had the progressive dinners for the youth as well as a ton of special services.

as much as i enjoyed seeing family and friends this wasn’t the best December.  it just went by too quickly and i felt like i wasn’t able to enjoy it like years past.  we didn’t get any Christmas cards out this year and i hate that.  i felt like we rushed and scrambled to “do” Christmas and all we accomplished was barely surviving it.

to celebrate enduring the end of a crazy year, 2013, we went to the cabin for new years eve to relax.  we did nothing but relax.  we went shopping one day for a little bit but the other time we spent playing a new great game – crack the code on the dvd player.  it was bought at an auction and has a parental lock on the dvd player and we couldn’t watch any of our new movies.  we still have a great time.  Otis woke me up one morning and i got to see the sunrise.

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happy end of 2013 and beginning of 2014

christmas numb

i have stated before (i think) that i love Christmas and that it is my favorite holiday.  and here we are 2 weeks away and i am reminded that it is also my craziest time of year and i hate crazy times.  so it is this bittersweet relationship – my love hate – with Christmas.

i haven’t had time to blog this weekend but i should have some fun stories and pictures later this week.  i am preparing for a whirlwind week to finish up all that i need to get done before the weekend.  i am so tired right now i am numb.  i am sitting here listening to a football game, to the gee snoring beside me and to andy clicking on his computer, but i feel nothing but tired and numb.  i look at our beautiful tree and i feel nothing but tired and numb.  i think of it as a Christmas numb.  i am existing in the world and i am doing what i need to do and going through the motions of Christmas but i am going a million miles an hour that i am numb to what i am doing.  i am running on auto pilot and living off to do and to get lists.  i am Christmas numb.  this time of year i get anxious to go to TN and be in there and once i get there each year despite all of the craziness around me my Christmas numb melts away and i am able to slow my mind down and realize that it isn’t about the lists and the house being clean and all the petty things that i worry about, it is about being with the ones that you love.

but for now i am going to take my Christmas numb self and stagger into the bed and escape myself with sweet blissful sleep.

***side note – andy whistles more during the Christmas season and during football games.  it is really annoying! ***

bing bing: attention shoppers

ok well on my road to hell paved with good intentions i am preparing myself to go to satan’s workshop or rather the mall to finish up shopping.  nothing makes me more happy (well a few things do but that is besides the point i can be as dramatic as i want) then finding unused gift cards and looking them up on-line and trying to find the balance.  i have 43 dollars left for pottery barn.  i am so excited.  i don’t really know why but i am.  i am going to try to finish up shopping tonight with andy and then go out monday of next week and maybe wednesday of next week to finish up shopping for andy.  i am ready to have all this done.  it is after all almost Christmas and i should have been done early.  i am so excited about all my unused gift cards.  hopefully we will be able to pair them with some good deals and get some really great gifts.

christmas favorites

each year we get our christmas things out of the attic (usually i am standing in the garage looking up those scary stairs asking andy how many more boxes and andy is crawling around tossing things down to me).  each year we unpack our boxes and i delight in seeing our christmas decorations.  a lot of them were gifts from other people, a lot of them are from yard sales and thrift shops, and a lot of them are things that we have bought and collected over the years.  as we get our stuff out we decide each year where to put things.  it isn’t like my grandmother’s house where everything has a place and that is the place that is goes year after year.  at our house our tradition is to put things out where we want to and that differs each year – except 2 things.  we have 2 decorations that have a place each year and it is the same place.


the first is this jim shore angel.  each year it sits on our mantle to remind us of the birth of Jesus.  This was the first wedding gift (from a non-family member) that we got.  we opened it and just looked at it.  we weren’t in love with it but we liked it.  we put it with our Christmas stuff and just a few months later as we were unpacking it we both stared at it in awe and just loved it.  this year it was one of the first things to be set into place.

there it is sitting on the left of the mantle about our stockings that were also a wedding gift (from andy’s mom).

the other decoration was the first gift that we received together as a couple.  we were working at j.h. gunn elementary school and one of the ladies in the office gave us a Christmas gift.  we call him mistletoes and he hangs in our foyer each year.

this is our little guy.  it is a red velvet bag with plastic mistletoe and glass feet sticking out the bottom.  he makes both of us laugh.

we love all of our Christmas decorations and each year we enjoy putting our stuff out to enjoy during the Christmas season.  i hope to have a tree picture tomorrow.

best of intentions

please let me ramble about what i should have done and what i intended to do….

1. i have been meaning to post some pics of some very special Christmas decorations (and of our Christmas house).  i will admit i have taken most of the pictures (i just haven’t down loaded them on the computer).  but i will tonight. maybe.

2. i have been meaning to post everyday.  oops.  once i get better at downloading pics i hope to post everyday (sometimes i feel like i have too many words and not enough supporting pictures).

3. i have been meaning to give an update on our Christmas tree situation.  andy won.  he doesn’t win much so i am sure he is gloating in his victory.  we have a real live tall tree to put up.  but it is still on our patio.  my intention is to put it up tonight.  i am happy that our house is all decorated but i am ready for our tree to be put up.  we will have 3 trees this year and i will post pictures of all 3.

4.  my intention was to be done with shopping by now.  we are going to wrap the last of the gifts tonight so that we can shop tomorrow if need be.  i am thinking next year we will get done early again.  i hope.

as they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  but i promise i really am trying…

bitterness party of 1

ok wow look at me 2 post in one day…but this isn’t a good post this is a post that i need to vent and why not write (since this might be a new thing for me).

right at 5 (our time) andy’s phone rang and it was little rock.  this was one of those phone calls that he had to wait on (he got an e-mail to expect the call) so  all day we have both been praying like crazy and our minds have been going crazy with what happens next.  well, the call came and it wasn’t good news.  i mean i guess in a way it was good news because that means that we can fully decorate for Christmas (we are still deciding if we are going to do a big tree or a little tree) that makes me happy.  it also makes me happy that we won’t be leaving and trying to move over the holiday.  it makes me happy that maybe we can find something a little closer to our families.  it makes me happy that we got to fly together and see part of the states that we haven’t seen together.  and it makes me happy that we were able to go through this together with little bickering and a lot of love and support.  it makes me sad and mad also.  it makes me sad because we have to stay in our current situation which doesn’t make us feel warm and fuzzy.  it makes me sad because we don’t get to buy a new house right away and we don’t get to “move” together (with a moving truck and everything).  it makes me sad because i know that the church was really cool and the people seemed really nice while we were there.  it makes me mad that they said no.  it makes me mad because i know that andy could have done a great job and that he was qualified to do the job.  it makes me mad that we flew all the way there and gave up a weekend (my mom’s birthday weekend) to go there and spend time apart instead of taking an “us” vacation.  it makes me mad because we have to start back at square one.  it makes me mad because i feel like we were led on.  but when i sit back and think about it we did pray that if it wasn’t right that it wouldn’t work.  and we prayed that it would be clear if we were meant to be there and obviously we weren’t.  with the rollarcoaster of emotions that we are both feeling right now we know that we are in this together and that there are possibilities out there and that the right thing will happen.  we know that we love each other very much no matter what happens.  andy is my hero and i am constantly amazed with his strength and love and passion in all that he does in life.  we will close this door and not dwell on it and not let it ruin our holiday season or dictate who we become.  we will let it shape us and we will move on.  in my honest humble opinion little rock is missing out (but we still pray that they find the right fit for them).