Keeping Up with the Joneses

A glimpse into the busy and very blessed life of the Jones Family!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dear Self,

Dear Self,
These are the days that you will most want to remember. Please take the time when it pops in your head to write things down to actually do it!
Your Self

Things seem to be moving at warp speed around here. The fact that it is nearly mid-March is crazy to think about. We have had a busy couple of months. The winter of 2015 has been a chilly and a rainy one. We have had lots of fires in our fireplace, which we have loved being able to turn on so easily and love that it is so central in our living space. The kids cozy up around it and I love that when I'm in the kitchen cooking, I can still enjoy it.

Basketball seasons came and went. The boys each played on their same teams- Hunter's team under Coach Conger was the Lightening. They ended up 3-5 for the season and had some great improvements this year. As always, it was a fun bunch of boys and a great time. Hunter made several baskets throughout the season and is a really good little defender. Blake's team, the Spurs, under Coach "Pop" Brewer, was awesome. They went undefeated and won the final championship for their age group. We didn't even know there was such a thing!

Hunter had baseball tryouts for the first time in January. He did great and ended up being drafted onto Coach Zunker's team. We were thrilled since we had played for him in the fall and he's a very strong coach. So far, he's been practicing the last several weeks and our first games were rained out before spring break. It's going to make for a busy busy couple of weeks to get it all made up.

Speaking of Spring Break, we are here this year. We took the kids up to the lake for the weekend and had a great time in the hot tub and the kids would even plunge into the freezing pool from time to time. Crazy kids! We took them into town for a fun dinner, a movie one rainy afternoon and spent lots of time just being together. It was a fun weekend!

We have been home since Monday morning and the kids begged to go to Thin Air, or Air Thin as Emily calls it. :-) We went Monday afternoon and spent an hour jumping and playing dodgeball and tackling the Ninja course. It was a perfect way to spend a soaking wet, rainy afternoon. Fortunately, the rain stopped and Tuesday was beautiful. The kids have enjoyed the trampoline here today and went to spend the night at my parents.

For my own memory sake, here are some early 2015 blurbs on each kiddo.

Sweet, sweet Hunter. We are in a stage of sweetness and innocence and if I could keep him here I would. He's in that stage where he's still little in terms of playing and things he is interested in. And yet he is looking more and more grown up by the day. He is still enjoying all things Minecraft and Terraria. He enjoys the Stampy videos on YouTube and watches them to get ideas and be entertained. He loves spending time with our neighbors and has a great little group of friends at school. At our recent teacher conference, he got only great accolades- such a hard working and smart little guy. I sometimes feel punched in the stomach when I think how big he really is. I mean, wasn't he just that little toddler telling me all about trucks and hitches and gas tanks?? And here we are, and he's talking my ear off about something he's created or something that happened at school. I really cannot even believe it. To write 2015 and realize that 10, TEN!!, years ago is when I was pregnant with him really makes my head spin. Those were the fastest and the best 10 years of my entire life! I tell Chris all the time that I would totally re-live them if given the chance. I really would!

He's still fluctuating between Blake's best and worst friend. It depends on the moment. Such sibling love and rivalry all in a few moments time. He and Emily get along really well and she adores him. Blake adores him too, but Hunter isn't always so receptive to that. Oh well, that seems all normal in the grand scheme.

He loves to shoot hoops, play outside, ride crazy carts, throw the football or baseball, play with friends, etc. He is super responsible and makes his bed every single morning. He comes home from school and immediately does his homework. He's almost crazed if something keeps him from getting it done right away.

I adore this 9 year old and can't wait to see what's in store the rest of the year ahead!

Oh Blake. Salty and sweet.....seems to be the best description of the stage we are in with Blake. He can go from being the sweetest, most endearing and sensitive little guys to being a little stinker all within moments. He is still the one that will hold my hand, come up and tell me something sweet, give kisses, and then he will be the one to throw the biggest fit. Ha! It must be the red hair!

In all seriousness, he is such a pleaser. He longs to do the right thing and be recognized, but he gets frustrated and when he gets in trouble for something, he just falls apart. At school, we get nothing but gleaming reports of good behavior and hard work. He's had a great year of kindergarten and is doing better and better at his reading, etc. We have some work to do getting him to learn ALL of the sight words, but I am not going to stress over it. I have been reading some good literature and some studies that remind us all that we are really trying to push too much on a kindergarten mind and that learning by play is really the best method. Blake honestly is the poster child for that- he seems to pick up on concepts casually as he plays much better than if I drill him with flashcards or make him do reading activities.

"Oh by the way" is a common phrase from this little man. He says it as he is talking to make another point and get your attention. He loves to help in the kitchen, has had a great time setting up his "fort" out in the chicken coop, loved picking out the garden plants with me and Hunter today, loves to jump and do tricks on the trampoline, loves sports and running around, likes to make paper books and anything with staples and a mess involved...

6 is a fun age with this little guy! I wouldn't trade him for the world!

Emmy Lou. She is in a most fun stage these days. 4 (and a half) is dreamy! She is funny, sweet, entertaining, witty, smart, sassy, and plain fun! We have a great time together. She loves to help me in the kitchen- sometimes more than I wish she did. She listens to every word I say. Nothing gets past her!

She is involved with dance on Wednesdays and has a cute group of girls that she takes tap/ballet with. They often moan and groan at going, but I think it's a combo of their teacher is a tough one and it's a long class. The light at the end of the tunnel is a recital....3 more months. Yikes! She also still loves and is doing great with gymnastics. She was moved to an older group (5-7 year olds in the fall). It was a great move and she learned a lot. She has a perfect little cartwheel and round off. She is working on her backbend thingy (see what an expert I am?) and would love to go more often. We are about to start t-ball so she will be one busy little bee. I hope she likes it!

Emily can make a royal mess in 2 seconds flat. I feel like her room goes from darling to disaster in .5 seconds. It's maddening and yet I know I will miss it. I turn the corner to find she has pulled out 5 dress ups, high heels, dolls, ponies, play food, odds and ends, books, pillows, dismantled her window seat, pulled out clothes from her closet and changed clothes for the 15th time....Needless to say, we spend lots of time cleaning up again. Ha!

She still comes to our room every night (mostly). She has started to sleep in the boys' room on the floor on a pallet each night. So, it makes tucking everyone in very easy. We just go to the boy's room and pull down beds and remake the pallet. They sometimes are all giggling and chit chatting, but again, one day we will miss that! She loves her brothers and I love that they are ok letting her sleep in there.

On the weekends, the kids have gotten into the habit of sleeping in the front living room. We do a big queen size blow up mattress and turn on a movie and they all 3 sleep in there together. I love that little tradition.

Emily is my little helper on Tuesdays- she says, "Are we going to be Coach Rhodes today?" It's so funny that she calls it by the teacher who used to do the coaching job. She's the fastest kid in the bunch and is so capable. I love to watch her in action.

I love this little angel girl so much and pray we always have such a sweet mother-daughter bond!

Our plan for the rest of spring break is to head to the ranch for a couple of days. It's currently 3:15am and I am up writing because I couldn't sleep. This blog, despite it being a blog, has always really been for me. I think of it at random times and feel this guilt creep up that I am so bad about keeping up with it. All I want is to have a good glimpse back in the days to come so I can remember what life was like. We watched a home movie the other day of 2007 and I just melted at the memories that came back. I want this to be the same- I want to read this someday and think, "I loved those days. I remember them so well." Time seems to go by so fast without me trying to make it go fast, and I know that these days, much like the kids' younger years, will be just as cherished. I also have to remember that they are still little NOW. They aren't as big as they are in my head. So, I will hopefully be better about getting on here and documenting what we are doing and what they are saying. They are so much fun!!

Monday, December 15, 2014


The season of Christmas has always been a sweet and highly anticipated time of year for me. There really isn't anything I don't love...the hymns and songs, the decorations at home and all around, the hustle and bustle, the thrill of finding the perfect something for the people you love, the times to celebrate with friends and family, and of course, the opportunity to reflect and remember the true meaning of this time....the Greatest Gift of all.

9 years ago, I was a mom-to-be due with a baby boy on Christmas day. It seemed fitting, as the meaning of my own name is "Child of Christmas." This Child of Christmas was due to have a Child on Christmas and it only increased my joy and love for this time of year. I loved being pregnant with all 3 of my babies- the expectant feeling of knowing there was SO much to look forward to. I remember hitting the month of December and finding out that things were progressing and he would likely be a bit early. I was teaching school and wrapping things up there and just prayerful I could get it all done. And I did. Like He always seems to arrange in His own way.

So, 10 days before he was due, he came into our lives. My life was wrecked in the BEST sense of that word. Never again to be the same, my heart now lived outside of me in this tiny, perfect little boy. I looked at him and knew him in an instant. He was mine. Ours. His.
And I remain in awe of the sweetness of the BIRTHday. And so so grateful for the life of this 9 (NINE!!) year old boy who is growing before my very eyes. I love who he is, who he has been and who he is growing to be. I am forever a very sappy parent on each of my children's birthdays- maybe because the day seems so recent and so far at the same time. And it makes me sad, and joyful and terrified and excited all at the same time. 

And then, you BLINK..... and have a boy. A 9 year old boy! Am I even old enough to have a 9 year old?? 
 He is funny, so sweet and sensitive, smart and talented, sincere and caring, athletic and hardworking, and so many good good things. It's enough to make this mama's heart just burst!
 Hunter- we sure do love you. Please, slow time down Lord so the next 9 years don't go nearly as quickly as the first. And thank you, thank you for allowing us the chance to love and nurture this precious child of Yours.

Birthdays galore!

I just realized that I never got a post up for Blake's 6th birthday. (Sweet, sweet middle child) And today is already Hunter's 9th birthday. I always feel like once the calendar flips to November, I better hold my breath and keep up, because it's always a full and busy 2 months until the end of the year.

Let's start with Blake- very deservedly so. Blake turned 6 on November 17. He and Luke celebrated for the 3rd year in a row with a joint party. This year, we celebrated a few days early and had a bunch of boys come and play kickball. We had rented an outdoor field and prepared a few things for the afternoon when a sudden and very strong cold front blew in. We knew pretty quickly that our outdoor plans weren't going to cut it. So, we were able to rent the gym at our church and it was the MOST FUN party! We had the best time!!

Blake has the sweetest heart. He loves to pray at the dinner table and at bedtime and his prayers are truly so touching. We often laugh and say he might be Pastor Jones sometime in the future. He has lots of things to say about his faith and what he believes. It's precious and so wonderful to see such trust and devotion at his young age. He genuinely loves The Lord and isn't afraid to tell you about it.
My heart could just overflow! This precious boy was so loved and celebrated the minute we found out about him. And I remember the elation I felt knowing that he was a boy and Hunter would have a brother. My prayer for our boys is that their hearts are so tightly knit and that they always love and adore one another.
Blake should wear a t-shirt at all times...."You are going to want to take me home with you." He was blessed with this personality that lights up a room. His scratchy voice, dimples and silly giggle are enough to put a smile on just about anyone's face.
Thank you Lord for this gift! He is a glimpse of the great joy we should all exude by knowing You! 

He is full of energy and can definitely wear us out. But truly, the way you spell BLAKE is J-O-Y!! He is the most joy-filled person and makes us laugh...a lot. He is doing great in school. We have to keep working on sight words and his reading, but he's making lots of progress and doing a great job. I admit to being a little worried that he would be a "monkey-see monkey-do" kid in the classroom, but so far, he has been very self-disciplined and respectful.

Blake is Mr. Manners. Of our three, he is so good about yes ma'am and no ma'am, please and thank you- and does it without being reminded. It is precious and people point it out often. Chris and I are so proud of him.

We couldn't imagine a better little brother for Hunter and a better big brother to Emily (as Hunter is too). Blake is such a beam of sunshine on each day- making life more interesting and SO so funny! We love you Blakey boo!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

4 years old

I originally wrote this post this past summer, which was timely because that's when Emily turned 4. But here it is October and I am just now editing this to post it....

I cannot believe my baby girl is four! Or as she pronounces it, "thor." We celebrated the big birthday just as Emily wanted to- with a Frozen gymnastics party. It was a great party and we loved every minute of celebrating her special day.

Emily is into all things Frozen these days. She still loves to sing the songs from the movie and she also loves to sing our VBS songs from this year. It is the sweetest thing to hear her in the back seat singing so sweetly to those songs.

She is still a stinker a nighttime. She is able to go to sleep in her bed each night but then ends up in our bed every.single.night. It's exhausting! We have started some essential oils to see if they help her sleep cycles even out.

We have since moved to the new house and still struggle with her sleep habits like we did at the old house. She has tried sleeping with the boys in their room on a mattress and that lasted for only a few nights. Her major complaint is that she is the only one who has to sleep alone. Makes me sad.

She loves to talk in this very high, babyish voice. It's cute but also can get old really fast. We have to remind her to talk like a big girl sometimes. I know I will miss that.

She performs all the time- songs, dances, gymnastic routines...She is often in costume or leotards and loves to clomp around in my high heels. While she is all things girl, she can also be all things grungy and tom-boy too. I love that she is a master at both. She can be in shorts and a t-shirt, her ultimate pick, and wear her boots with her hair unbrushed and she is perfectly happy. It can be murder to get her in a nice church dress and put a bow in her hair. And yet, at other times, she is ready to be dolled up and loves to look "boo-ti-full."

We have laughed lately at her antics. She really is a funny little girl and loves to make us laugh with her funny stories, her silly faces and just being goofy. I get such a kick out of watching this girl grow up!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Time flies when you're having FUN!

It's been far too long since I have written. The thought to write and catch up creeps up on me and then vanishes before I have a chance to actually DO anything. I cannot fathom the thought of forgetting these moments, and I know that so many will fall through the cracks of my memory, so I will try to recap and retell what I remember.

Hunter: Hunter just started 3rd grade almost 2 months ago. The transition that I dreaded and anticipated as being a hard one has been anything but. He has flourished as I knew deep down that he would. He is doing so well in school and is getting back his first real number grades. That makes it kinda fun! He is playing on the Fire Soccer team again and practicing for that twice a week. In addition, he started minor baseball and plays that just on Sunday afternoons. He loves to play Minecraft and watch these Stampy videos that teach you the ins and outs of the game. He also loves to play Clash of Clans. Chris and I don't fully understand these games but they seem to really engage the design sense that Hunter is so gifted at.

Blake: Blake started kindergarten! I cannot believe my baby boy is in full time school now! He is loving every minute of kinder and doing so great. He comes home full of energy and has to run and play from the minute he steps foot in the door. I think by all accounts that he is really doing great in the classroom. We are practicing his letters and numbers still and he loves to read the beginning readers, the Bob books. He is playing flag football this fall and loves to play with the team that is comprised of mostly 1st grade boys. He had his heart set on playing that and decided to put soccer aside for the season. He is also just beginning in machine pitch minors this fall and has loved his game he played in so far. In a month, we will celebrate his 6th birthday and are planning a joint party with Luke. Blake and Emily still play so well together and pick up where they left off each afternoon. They are always in cahoots and making some mess somewhere....but they adore each other and are the best playmates.

Emily: Emily is in the 4's class with Ms. Pat and Ms. Beverly. She is having a great year and loving the group of kids in her class. She is taking her first dance class that has tap, ballet and jazz and really seems to like it. She is also taking her weekly gymnastics class. I moved her up to the 5-7 year old group and she is doing incredibly well. She has a talent for gymnastics and they have even asked her to join the pre-team. We are going to sit that one out for a while since she is still so young.

A BIG development in the Jones family....we MOVED! After 11 1/2 years, we sold our precious first home and moved. I knew all along for the many years that we looked and kept our eyes open that we would know when it was right. And thank you Lord, we did know. It was immediately an answer to prayer as it checked off all of our boxes of what we were looking for. It wasn't exactly what I envisioned, but has turned out to be better. Isn't that so sweet of the Lord to be so gracious? It was bitter sweet to turn over our old key and lock that front door for the final time, but God so perfectly arranged for a sweet family to make that home theirs and there hasn't been the least bit of doubt that it is all as it should be.

I even got a little part time gig this year. I am helping at the preschool in the motor skills class and having fun playing with the kids 3 mornings a week. It certainly means so many other things have to shift around to make it work, but so far, it's been doable and fun.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What a difference a year makes….

A year ago, we took the kids on the Disney Cruise. Here are a couple of pictures from that trip. They have all grown a lot!

2013 (2 1/2)
                                                                    4 years old
                                                                      7 years old
2012- February (emily was 1 1/2)
                                                                 Hunter was 6
                                                                    blake was 3

3 1/2

Emily is 3 1/2. So here is a look back at what that looked like for the boys too…..
Hunter at 3 1/2.

                                                                        Blake at 3 1/2
                                                                Emily at 3 1/2

Charleston, SC

Chris and I went on the 2014 Cavalier's Trip to Charleston the last weekend of February. It was so much fun and we definitely would like to go again. We had beautiful weather aside from a couple hours of rain on Friday. Other than that, we were able to walk around, be outside and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
We stayed at Charleston Place Hotel- it was so lovely. Here we are about to go walk around on Friday morning. It was a little icky out so we took an umbrella, our coffees and headed out.

 We made our way to the pier and sat on the swings while it rained. It was still fun to be out checking out the city.
 Here's Chris in front of the water.
 We found this pretty little water-side park and loved the slate and brick patterns. It was a peaceful little park.
 In front of the pineapple fountain. Charleston has pineapples all over as a sign of hospitality. We took home an ornament that is a pineapple to remember our (1st) trip to Charleston.
 After lunch at Magnolias (yum!!) with the Walton's and the Conger's, we went on the 2 hour walking tour. It was fascinating and so incredible to hear and see all of the history. Then, we went back to shower and dress for Chris' class dinner at Fish.
 Some of the guys (9 in his class went) in the lobby where the Cavalier's hung their own King's portrait next to some Charleston notables. Ha!!
 At the King's Suite that Friday night. Fun fun!!
 The boys were the bartenders. Kept things lively for sure!
 On of the beautiful single houses. I loved taking pictures of houses the whole weekend.
 A pretty window box. I want to do this here at home.
 The last night we went to a hole in the wall little restaurant for Italian- just the 2 of us. It was wonderful and the atmosphere was amazing!
 Selfies are tough to get right!
 Back to night 2- at Fish with my handsome hubs!