Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Surprising Summer

Our summer with Allie has seriously flown by. The last two weeks of our time together is kind of a blur. haha Sandwiched between all our responsibilities, we did squeeze in some quality time with new and old friends in around Atlanta.

One fun evening included a backyard Crowder concert hosted by our friends Kyle and Juliet.
This was also the first summer that I was commuting downtown to work so Allie spent a lot of time at Perimeter with Zach. She also got to hang out with various students and leaders from the youth ministry who were so wonderful to invite her to lunch and activities throughout the week. We are so grateful Allie is establishing such a strong community here.

Our 4th of July holiday was spent at our annual family reunion up at Lake Junaluska. We love this place!

 I never tire of my family's 1920s mountain bungalow...
Or the family we get to see when we come here! I love love love that Allie has gotten some quality time with my sweet grandma!
 It was really rainy this year and slowed down our activity list, but to be honest, I think we needed the down time to recoup from the prior weeks.

Sitting on the porch listening to Dad tell stories. :)
This is the first summer we've spent here since my Granddaddy passed away and it was so odd not seeing my favorite old man sitting in his rocking chair on the porch. Allie and I made good use of it though. He would have been proud. :)

 Indoor chillin'

Playing with my cousin's kids...
 Allie found a faithful friend in little Caroline who always wanted to be with her. haha :)
When the rain let up we did squeeze in some fun stuff. :)

Kayaking/ paddle boarding on the lake!

 Taking a break :)

A little shopping at Robin Blu...
 and Mast General Store in downtown Waynesville. :)
 I love walks around the lake at dusk with these two. :)
And of course there is the food. There are some things we look forward to each year such as eating blackened gator tail at Maggie's Galley
 and going to Panacea for lunch and coffee.
 We also found some new spots such as Bourbon Barrel, which had some killer sandwiches such as the grown-up grilled cheese
 and the most amazing fries ever. Ever!
 We also had some great bbq at the Haywood Smokehouse. Just say yes to ribs.
 Oh - and thanks to my second cousin, we discovered the best ice cream in the entire world. And no I am not over exaggerating. I mean... would Jimmy Fallon lead you astray? I tell ya this stuff is amazeballs.

We had a lot of ice cream over the holiday.... since I also whipped up the traditional oreo ice cream cake my grandma has made for decades. It's so good...
 and we also found a way to put those extra oreos to good use. :) Truly milk's favorite cookie.

Allie and I really look forward to watching the extremely cheesy, but amazingly Americana 4th of July parade at the lake. It is ghetto-fabulous. Haha

Dad and Al, waiting for the Grand Marshall!
 And look who it is! My Great-Uncle was the Grand Marshall in the parade this year! Haha
 Lookin' good Uncle Frank!
 The band.
 You can never have too many American flags.
 Our favorite old car is back again this year!
 And you can't get more Americana than this.
Happy Independence Day USA!
We also love watching the fireworks over the lake and the illuminated lakeside cross. It is so picturesque. In addition to enjoying the fireworks, I loved watching these two stand side by side trying to take the perfect fireworks photo...which is clearly challenging given how terrible this fireworks photo is. Haha
Our last week back home flew by, but we were so thrilled that Allie got to attend some evening sessions at Goldrush, the summer student camp hosted by our church.
 Over 800 students were in attendance and Allie LOVED it. She hopes to be able to attend the whole week at some point in the future. :)
Normally as the end of our summer with Allie draws near, I am battling anxiety, worry, and grief. I am restless and jumpy and it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest. The looming separation has always been extremely painful for all 3 of us, but this year… gosh this year has been so different. So surprisingly, delightfully different. It’s been different because intermixed in all our adventures and family time, the decision for Allie to live with Zach full-time was made. Honestly, we always dreamed of that happening, but due to a variety of circumstances we never thought it would come to fruition. And now it has- in the most unexpected miraculous way, and we are awestruck. And grateful. Although this is a huge answer to prayer, it has also been extremely stressful trying to furiously get everything in order for Allie to begin school here in August. Lots of doctor appointments, summer reading/ required assignments, etc. As I am sure you can imagine this will be a huge transition for Allie on every level. 

For our faith family, please pray for Allie and the year ahead. It will be full of so many amazing new things, but also... the transition from homeschool to public high school is going to be challenging. Please pray that she finds amazing friends at her school. It has already been so incredible watching God create a life and community for her here virtually over night. (Some blessings in the midst of the madness: The school is 1.5 miles from our house and my MIL works across the street. A friend of mine has worked at Allie's new school for 7 years and has been so incredibly kind to help us make class decisions and just... get all our school questions answered and be a resource for Allie. She is also the sponsor for FCA. We also found out her Principal is a christian as well as the 9th grade Assistant Principal and her chorus teacher. There are a handful of families from our church who have kids at this school and everyone has been so great - reaching out and wanting to get all of us plugged in. This summer Allie also had the chance to hang out with some Young Life students from her new school. We are just so grateful so many connections are happening before school even starts! Thank you Jesus!)

Again, we are left humbled and amazed at all God has in store for our girl! It's gonna be a BIG year and hey... if you've got extra prayer time, say a few for me and Z. haha Our whole life in being recalibrated - new routines, rhythms, responsibilities, expectations, family balance. You name it, it is changing. We are going from having Allie 75 days a year to 300 and although we are over the moon about it, it's a big shift for all of us and will take time to find our new life balance that isn't centered around vacation and holidays. Pray for wisdom, patience, and open eyes to see the important stuff amongst all the details. For our friends and family who have walked with us and been praying for Allie for years, THANK YOU, from the bottom of our hearts. We are so grateful for each of you and how you have lifted us up. 

Before Allie left on July 10, she sent me this Snapchat. I thought it was cute so I took a screenshot before it vanished.
A week later I stumbled across it going through my camera roll and I saw her caption in a completely different light. Am I ready for this? As parents - we worry and try to anticipate what is ahead. We try to protect her from pain, heartache, and struggle.... but in my heart I know she is ready for this change. She's ready for the new adventure and the challenges too. It's the scary (but necessary) part of growing up and we are as ready as we will ever be to walk beside her every step of the way and help her become the incredibly special person God has made her to be. So here's to starting 9th grade and a whole new life! I can't wait to see what happens! 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tonight Show Shenanigans

Immediately following our summer vacation, our annual Father's Day party commenced! (A big thanks to my MIL for helping me prepare a few details while we were out of town.) This is our 4th themed Father's Day party (previously a mustache party, pirate party, British party), and this year... drum roll... a Jimmy Fallon/Tonight Show themed party! Zach loves watching Jimmy Fallon host the Tonight Show, particularly all the hilarious shenanigans/ games he does with various celebrities. Allie and I talked about it back in May and decided this would be the perfect theme for this year's festivities!

The theme, based off the Tonight Show brand, but instead of NYC, it's Atlanta!
 The daughter
 The daddy
 and me!

We decided to play 3 Jimmy Fallon original games - Water War, Egg Roulette, and Lip Sync Battle. Zach and I faced off with Water War- basically the card game war, but whoever has the highest card gets to throw a glass of water in the other person's face. No pressure!

Whoever uses up all 5 of their glasses first gets to soak the other person with a super soaker or, in our case, dump a bucket of water on them! Sorry Zach! hahahahaha
Then Allie and Zach played egg roulette. The game is played with a dozen eggs - 8 being hard boiled, 4 being raw. Each player takes a turn randomly selecting an egg and they must crack it on their head. The first player to crack two raw eggs on their head loses.
 Tensions running high. The competition has begun!
 Mulling over her choices...

OOOH. Ouch. One strike for Zach!

 And one for Allie!
 The sensation of finding a hard boiled egg is quite euphoric. Haha!
Allie ended up the victor of that game, but there was still one game left - lip sync battle! For lip sync battle, each player lip syncs to a song of their choice. The winner is clearly whoever can pull off the most compelling performance.
Allie 'sang' "I knew you were trouble" by T Swift, I did "Roar" by Katy Perry, and Zach did "Shut up and dance with me" by Walk the Moon. Everyone did great, but Zach was clearly the winner. Haha! SO MUCH FUN.

And a Father's Day party wouldn't be a Father's Day party without some photo booth style pics. :)

The rest of our evening was spent enjoying Father's Day delicacies (burgers and brownie pie) and quality family time. Zach said it was the best one yet and I have to admit, it was really fun (but really messy haha).

Happy Father's Day Z! We love you!