Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mr. & Mrs. Phipps

On August 30th, 2014, the youngest cousin on our Phipps side of the family, got married! Austin and Gabby have been dating for seven years, so it already seemed that Gabby was a part of our family, but we were all so excited that it is now official! The wedding rehearsal was great with a delicious rehearsal meal following at my parents house, the wedding was gorgeous at our church, and the reception was so much fun with some delicious food at some of Austin's parents land. Here are some pictures of their beautiful day:

Rehearsal Dinner:
 Austin and Gabby had my four kids as a ring bearer and flower girls, as well as cousins Abigail, Amelia & Bella as flower girls, and Carter also as a ring bearer. Gabby said that her color was yellow and she just left it up to us to find something for them to wear in the wedding. I loved the girls sweet little dresses, and Carter and Jackson looked so handsome in their shirts!

Immediately following the wedding, and the beautiful cake my Aunt Debbie made for the reception (and it tasted as great as it looked!).
 Reception Fun:
 And a few more fun memories from the day:
Congratulations Austin and Gabrielle! We love you both and are so excited and happy for you guys!

August 2014

A little recap of our August happenings:

The month started off first thing with the first day of school with Jackson starting 2nd Grade and Ansley Kate starting 1st Grade on Monday the 4th. They got out just a couple of days later, though, for the local elections. Papaw Fred was running for County Mayor, and so we were busy campaigning all day long. Even though he came up short a few votes, we had a great day out at the polls talking to many friends that came out, and meeting new people.
Eric applied for a farm grant earlier in the year, and was chosen as one of the recipients for the grant! One of the things he is working on is a sugar shack to make molasses and maple syrup in, but we also were able to get some chickens (10), ducks (10) and turkeys (15). The kids loved watching the sweet little babies run around and play in the chicken house Eric built. 
We also added some new bunnies to our pets. Jennifer and Leslie knew that the kids have really been wanting some bunnies, so one day they brought over the black and white bunnies, which the kids named Sven and Olaf. Ansley runs home first thing to feed them and she especially loves to hold Sven, because he lets her hold him like a little baby. The other little bunny is a baby that Eric found one day while working.
Our pig, Vidalia, kept getting out of her pen, so when the pups at my mom and dad's house all kept dying we decided to bring the last one and put her in the pen with Vidalia to give her some company, and to hopefully keep the pup safe until we could find another home for her. It wasn't long until the pup had a name (Dash), then a collar, and her and Vidalia became best friends and it was obvious that she had already found her new home. Nala Mae was turned ten years old on the 1tth, but she is getting weaker and weaker, and received non-stop attention from all of us, as you can tell below.
We also celebrated Uncle Gerald's birthday and retirement with a wonderful party thrown by his family:
After the party, we headed over to Gray, Tennessee to go to the Appalachian Fair. The kids loved the exhibits, watching the demolition derby, and singing and dancing along at the Francesca Battistelli concert.
Elsie had her 4 year well check up in August, and she also went ahead and got her shots for kindergarten so we wouldn't have to worry about that next year. She was nervous and didn't want to get them, but after a little bribing with a promise of a trip to Sweet Frog if she got them, she was pretty proud of herself for not shedding a single tear! She asked if I would take a picture of her and send it to daddy so he could see what a brave girl she was. She weighed 33.4 lbs., and was 38.5 inches, and checked out great!
The last picture is one of many days after school when Ansley Kate would run off the bus and go get in the creek to catch anything she could possibly catch. Whether it's riding her bike, playing in the creek, taking care of the animals or swinging on the swingset, Ansley just loves being outside when she gets home from school! 
Elsie had her first day of dance in August, and is so far absolutely loving it. She is definitely our most social kid right now, so everyday at dance she is just as excited about which friends were there to talk to as what she learned during the class. With school and dance both starting back, you can tell that our two big girls are exhausted when it comes to bedtime.

I celebrated my 32nd birthday in August and after going to church I really wanted to go tubing down the river. At our home it was nice with the sun shining, but by the time we got to the river it was misting outside and was a cold, cloudy 63 degrees. Thankfully my kids (Jackson and Ansley anyways) were even more excited than I was, Eric had Elsie and Vada Belle in a blow up boat to where they wouldn't get wet, and my sister and her boyfriend Craig, and my cousin, Jennifer, were crazy enough to come also. 
One of Jackson's highlights of the month was meeting John Archambault, the author of some wonderful Children's books, but especially known for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom & Boom Chicka Rock, which Jackson got his autograph in both of those books. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Good-bye, Our Precious Nala Mae

Yesterday started out as any other day, and once Ansley left for school (Jackson wasn't feeling great and had a terrible cough, and we wanted to make sure he was fine before we sent him to school) and the door was opened for just a second, Nala Mae ran into the house. She has lately become pretty fond of the kid's little couches, and I had just washed a couple and had shut my bedroom door so she wouldn't go lay on the clean ones. I brought her dog bed into the living room so she could lay on it, but she started walking around the house and never came back to her bed. A little while later when Elsie woke up, she said, "Mommy! Guess who was asleep in my bed when I woke up? Nala!" She decided she would go into the girls room and snuggle up in a pile of coats/pj's/stuffed animals and whatever else may be in that pile. She laid there for a couple of hours before she decided she wanted to go back outside.  She got up and Jackson and Elsie laughed and laughed because she was walking around the house with Elsie's little footed jammies still on her back from where Elsie had covered her up while she was asleep in Elsie's room. When Eric took Jackson to school since he was feeling better, she then went outside and stretched out in the sun, like she loves to do. When Elsie and I walked down to the end of the road to get Jackson and Ansley off of the bus, she was right there with us, just like every single day.  When we got to our driveway, the kids were trying to get Dash (the border collie puppy) to go back to the animal pen (her home), and Nala was just hanging out by the basketball goal. I asked her if she was coming on up to the house with us, or staying down there with Eric (he was working on a shed that he is building). Jackson said, "I'm going to wait on Nala, you all go ahead." He then told me that she went over to where Eric was working and wanted to stay with him. She went and laid beside his truck and was watching him work, and just being near him like she loved to do. When he went to his truck to get some water, he looked at her and realized that she had went there, laid down, and peacefully died. He came to the house and told me, and then we told the kids. There were lots of tears, which caused even more tears from me. Jackson instantly lost it. Eric and I walked down to where she was laying so we could get her and go bury her in the backyard. Ansley and Jackson rode their bikes down there, and Jackson ran to her and took her collar off because he said he wanted to hang it up in a tree above where we bury her so we could always remember where she was. Ansley was still trying to hold it together and kept saying things like, "Well, at least we still have Dash (the puppy) and Vidalia (the pig)." Elsie came running down the driveway about that time, with her little Elsa dress on, white heels, and bright pink coat, and when she saw Nala laying there, that is when the tears started streaming down her face while she kept saying, "Oh no! Nala!" We put Nala on the four wheeler and took her to the backyard and the kids picked out a place by the edge of the woods to bury her. Eric dug a hole, and the kids wanted to put her bed (with some bones she still had hidden down inside of it), in there with her. Jackson wanted me to take a picture of her in there, but Eric told him that we didn't want to remember her like that, we wanted to keep our great memories of her, and I told him I would take one of her bed. We said our final good-byes, hung her collar up, and then said a little prayer. While we were thanking God for giving us such a wonderful dog for the past ten years, that is when Ansley finally let the tears start flowing, while she was sobbing.
We came back in and talked about some sweet memories with our Nala, and heard many times from the kids how much they were going to miss her. Eric and I were also very upset. We got Nala one month and 1 day after we were married, so we have pretty much had her our entire marriage. She was our first baby, and she had to put up with a lot out of four little ones and many other pets. She was our protector and was always on guard, especially if it was just the kids and I at home alone. A couple of months ago Eric had to go out to town to do some work. Since Nala has got sicker, she hasn't just stood in the driveway and barked and barked like she use to do (we have LOTS of deer, possums, and other critters around here). That night that Eric was gone, she decided that she was going to bark and bark, and I told my mom the next day I didn't know why she had to pick the night that Eric was gone to do that. Mom said, "Wendy, she knew Eric was gone and she was standing guard and watching out for you and the kids." I honestly believe that is exactly what she was doing and thanked her for doing so. I don't know why I didn't realize it until my mom said it! 

I didn't realize 10 years ago standing there in the lobby at GV School that I was getting such a wonderful guard dog and friend, but that is exactly what Nala was to all six of us. 

Just a very few moments of our very many memories with our sweet Nala:

When we first got Nala

She has had lots of other furry "brothers and sisters" these past 10 years:

Checking out Jackson's 1st Christmas present with him & hanging out with dad:
She always loved all the extra attention Ansley Kate gave her:
Soon enough, Elsie came along and she had three babies she had to protect:
She definitely loved summer when we were always outside, and she was always right by our sides:
Vada Belle came along, making four kids she had to stand guard for, but they always gave her some of their food/snacks, so she didn't mind:
Lots of love and hugs:
I think when Jackson and Ansley started school, this was one of her favorite parts of the day- getting them off the bus (but I'm sure she loved the extra attention she got from Elsie during the days):
Always right by our side:
Even though Eric and I are very upset about losing our Nala, we couldn't help but be grateful for the way it happened. We knew she was really sick, and the vet told us that she was a "really sick dog" several months ago, so we are thankful that we got even more time with her than we thought we woud. We had gone back and forth about discussing if and when we should put her down. She was still eating well, always right by our side when we were outside, would still go walking with us on our road, and we just didn't think it was time yet. She hasn't loved winter the past couple of years (she also has arthritis) so we had discussed that we didn't know if we should make her suffer through another one or not. So, we are thankful that we didn't have to make that decision. Also, every afternoon is crazy through the week, except for Mondays. That is the only day pretty much that we don't have somewhere else we have to go after school.  Eric was home early from work, everyone else was home, and we were able to take enough time to give our good-byes like we wanted to. She didn't run off somewhere and die to where we couldn't find her, which Eric was worried about her possibly doing. A sad accident didn't happen like with many of our other animals, she just laid down peacefully and without any major suffering, passed away. Like Eric kept telling me last night, she had a really good day and wasn't suffering. For those things, we are thankful. 
We miss you so much, our sweet Nala Mae! Thanks for being such a great pet and a friend to all six of us. You were loved so much! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ansley Kate is 6!

Happy 6th birthday to our little princess, Ansley Kate. Last night we went up to Mamaw Dianne and Papaw Fred's house to eat some pizza and also have cake and ice cream, and let Ansley open her gifts from them.
The kids never questioned why we were doing it the day before Ansley's birthday like I thought that they may, especially since they didn't have school on her birthday since it was Labor Day (and we also went ahead and took her yearly birthday picture in the rocking chair with her pink bunny). They had no idea that we were going to be getting them up out of their beds at 4:30 to put them in the van to head towards DISNEY WORLD! We stopped at a rest stop several hours up the road (it was around 9:00), and they still didn't even question why we were in the van and where we were going! Eric and I couldn't believe it, and Eric finally asked them before heading back down the road if they wanted to know where we were going. We gave them their Magic Bands, and when they realized we were going to Disney, of course they were ecstatic. They thought for sure that they were going to Chuck E. Cheese's, since that is what we did on Jackson's 6th birthday, but were okay that we were headed to Disney instead! ;)  We stopped at Shoney's on the way down, where they brought out a huge hot fudge sundae that Ansley was more than happy to share with the rest of us. We then went to our hotel room at Disney's All Stars Music Resort, and there Ansley Kate opened her gifts from all of us.
The kids then wanted to go to Downtown Disney and look around, and we stayed there for several hours looking around before heading back to our room. It didn't take long for the kids to pass out after that long drive and Downtown Disney fun!
At 6 years old, Ansley Kate is still obsessed with princesses, loves Barbies and her dolls, is always dancing and singing, loves to play dress up with her siblings, an animal lover (and a great help with our dogs, pig, cat, chickens, ducks, and turkeys), a great reader, enjoys coloring and playing with play-doh, and has a huge heart. Her favorite movies are Frozen and Enchanted, and her favorite food is cucumbers and noodles.

She has gotten so much taller this year, and has learned so much as well! 
Happy birthday, our sweet little princess! We love you with all of our heart, and are so proud of you!