Happy Birthday, Bo-Bo!!

Avery is definitely the third child! We incorporated a birthday party into our plans to join my parents, Grandma Dee, and the Caswells at the lake for the Fourth of July. Luckily, my amazingly over-the-top crafty friend Angelina had a Minnie Mouse party for her daughter just weeks before, so I hit the jackpot in borrowing all of her Minnie Mouse decor for Avery’s party.

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Avery loves Mickey and Minnie…mainly Mickey. She comes in to our room every morning to snuggle up and watch Mickey. She usually stays in bed watching while I start to get ready. A great plan!

The weather was great and we had a fun time spending time with family. We took rides on the boat, played with Toby (the dog), and enjoyed the fireworks in the middle of the lake. Haley and I loved getting schooled by Grandma Dee in playing Crazy 8’s!

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Avery loved the balloons and the cupcakes the most. She got tons of attention and probably didn’t notice it was her birthday because she gets tons of attention every day! I am so proud of my sweet two-year old BABY! She is the cutest thing, is so full of life, and cracks us up at every turn with her facial expressions and personality.

Avery is almost fully potty trained and is now in a big girl bed- she was the first and only Simons baby to train herself to crawl out…it is hilarious too! I can’t believe how fast she is.

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We left the lake a little early to get home to our own lake celebration! Garner Lake does a great fireworks display too so we loaded the pirate ship and set sail!

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Gone Fishin’

April 2013

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Last weekend we went to the country! We were so excited to take a weekend to relax and spend time with family. I think Hayden needed it most of all…but Haley had the most fun. Hayden got a new air gun and was dying to try it out. No better place than the country to shoot guns, fish, and hunt turkey!

We prayed the whole way there for safe travel because it was raining so hard! Thankfully we made it safely and the rain kept any chance of turkey hunting obsolete so we got to relax most of the day.

Later in the afternoon, once naps were over and the weather had cleared, we went outside to fish while the boys went hunting. Hayden’s Mom is a master fisher-woman. She isn’t scared to bait a hook with a live cricket or take a fish off a line. The pond on their land is stock full of Bream and the kids were catching fish throw after throw and LOVING it!

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That night Haley prayed that they’d get to fish more tomorrow and that the fish would be biting. Her prayer was answered. Saturday was so much fun. EARLY in the morning I went hunting with Hayden and his Dad- insight on that experience at LouderGod.com. I told Hayden if we are planning to wake up before 5am, to leave me in bed! So, at 4:30am we all got up, got the camo gear on, made coffee, and headed to Kosciusko. On my blog post I wrote about how much I love hunting with Hayden…but didn’t mention my other hunting buddy. Hayden’s Dad is awesome to go with. His excitement is contaigious and he is so generous. He tries to put us in the best place to see what we are hunting, he always makes sure I am comfortable (gave me his stool to sit on this trip), and is so encouraging about my shooting abilities…which is pretty good, if I do say so myself! I love having that time with him, listening to his hunting stories on our way and hearing about how he lives out his Christian walk. He never brags about all the ways he helps people, but as we drive along, he’ll point out places where he helped someone. The difference in hearing a guy tell about helping someone and hearing his stories are that he is always more effected than them. You can tell that it’s his life that is changed when the Holy Spirit uses him…which is often. The main lesson here- when you are open and willing The Lord will provide all possible resources needed. Hayden frequently says if he grows up to be half the man his Dad is, he will count himself successful. I agree. The best news is that as parents, we do all we can to teach, inspire, and pray our children into being better people than us. Gary is no exception and I see evidence that Hayden

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is on that path. Life experience teaches us a lot about loving others, being patient with differences, and the importance of helping others to be their best. We still have a lot to learn, but I hope we pass these lessons on to our children- in word and deed- as we learn them and see them modeled in our parents. Makes me SO thankful for the passion and drive both sets of Grandparents have in serving others in the name of The Lord…what a legacy!

Even though we were tired, we focused the rest of the day on spending quality family time outside in the sunshine. Haley was “hooked” on fishing so we hung out at the pond. She was on cloud nine and Trey was in and out of interest. Even though fishing wasn’t his favorite activity, there were plenty of other things to keep his attention- sticks, rocks, dirt, ant hills. I sat on the dock watching the kids run along the edge of the pond and thought to myself, “CLICK!” I wanted to keep that picture in my mind. Getting all nostalgic about the simplicity of being out there prompted some conversation between me and Hayden about how we can put more of “that” in our life at home. We committed to more outside play time, more fishing, more concentrated family time, and trying to keep it simple. Week one of this has gone well! We’ve done some crafts, played games, rode bikes, worked in the garden and kept the TV off! It’s been awesome and I’m grateful for the perspective.

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Haley made badges for everyone so we could show our “best fisherman” pride! She was busy coloring and working on her badges for us for a good part of the weekend. So sweet.

Hayden’s dad had just gotten the patio under the new cover poured but he intentionally left a spot open for him to pour himself…when the grandkids were around so he could put their handprints in the patio. The kids LOVED that part!


Well, today is April 5, 2013.  I don’t think I added “keep up with our blog posts” to the New Year’s resolution list since we have only one post to show for 2013.  The saddest part, I actually have written several, just haven’t put the pictures to them and hit “POST”.  So, I am going to multi-post the past three months to catch us up and try to do better from here! 

Today the sun is shining and it feels SO good.  Haley learned about the Groundhog on Groundhog day this year and keeps asking me, “are you sure we don’t have six more weeks of winter??”  Looking at the upcoming forecast, I think Spring has arrived!  We are ready to be outside again and are already taking advantage of longer days.  More sunshine will be great for our garden too, which is doing great and we are anxiously awaiting harvest time! 

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Easter weekend was really fun and pretty laid back.  Friday night, my Mom kept the kids while I surprised Hayden with a surprise dinner date night out Downtown.  We ate at a great restaurant, Flight, then met up with Julie and Reed (the newly engaged couple!) for a walk on Main Street and a stop at the Madison to enjoy the sights of the Mississippi River and Memphis Bridge.  It was refreshing for us to get away and relax together…it had been a while and we need to remember to do that more often!  One thing I noticed and was glad to be reminded of- as I planned and prepared for our night out (reservations, a note, new dress, painted nails, etc) I got so excited and felt more in love with my husband.  It is true, LOVE is a verb, and as I was acting out in love, I noticed I was much happier and full of joy in my marriage.

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Saturday, Hayden went hunting and I joined the kids for an Easter Egg hunt in my Mom’s neighborhood.  We got pictures with the Easter bunny and got to play with Demarkis, too.  That afternoon, and all of Sunday was really restful and we just enjoyed being together.  The egg hunting resumed many times that night…training for Easter morning!

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kids and baskets

Avery was mostly just interested in the candy.  She’ll eat through a wrapper to get it.  She would find an egg that was empty, open it, then bring it to me- saying, “OH NO! OH NO!”  Very aware something was wrong with that egg!

Sunday was a great day and the kids LOVED finding their Easter baskets.  We had a nice breakfast together- complete with Peeps on our straws!  After church we celebrated a day of rest.  That night my parents, Julie, and Reed came over for dinner and it was nice spending family time on a special day that the Lord had made.

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Trey got a new suit for Easter from Hayden’s mom.  When Trey saw it he yelled out, “Now I will look just like Daddy at church!”  That morning Hayden and Trey got ready together- getting coordinated ties, putting on each piece at the same time, etc.  It was beyond precious and I hope I keep that mental snapshot in my memory forever.

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While the kids and I were napping on Easter afternoon, Hayden took off to take advantage of down time and went hunting.  Day 2 of Turkey Season.  He killed his first Turkey!!!  It wasn’t as big as he would have liked, but he is thrilled!  Haley was telling everyone about it at dinner and said, “I am SO proud of my DAD!  I’ve been telling him to practice and it worked.”

My parents have always had an open home to anyone who needed family- on special days and on ordinary days.  Many of our friends over the years have adopted my parents as their own and I want this to be something that carries on in our home.  Julie’s friend, new Kathleen, was able to join us and help fill our home with more joy!

The highlight of the Easter meal was the making (and eating!) of the Resurrection Rolls.  Each person at the house took a marshmallow, rolled it in butter, then rolled it in cinnamon.  From there, we wrapped each marshmallow in a crescent roll.  (At least all that we could wrestle away from my Dad and the kids!)  When you bite into, or cut into, the roll, the marshmallow was gone!  Just like Jesus was no longer in the tomb.  I love applicable activities to do with the family that have lessons that point us to Jesus…especially ones that are so tasty!

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Every year I say, “I understand the importance of Easter even MORE this year.”  I am pleased that each year I gain more appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifice that was made for us and that we serve and love a God who is ALIVE!!  I hope this never changes and that I am always in AWE of the sacrifice that was made- by someone so pure and perfect, on behalf of little ole’ highly-imperfect ME.

Special Guests!

My Grandpa Platten came to Memphis, March 22-24!  He hadn’t been to Memphis since Kathleen and Jason’s wedding and we were thrilled to have him come.  I’ve been telling him about our new house and couldn’t wait to show him.  Grandpa Platten is the kind of guy you want to please.  I hold him in such high esteem and know that he has high expectations for the important things in life- faith, relationships, caring for others, nurturing your family, etc.  So, for him to come and see us in action, then for him to give us such encouraging and approving words means the world to me. 

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Uncle John, cousin Andy, cousin Brian, Grandpa, and Hayden all went to support my Dad as was a featured speaker for the Catholic Men’s Morning of Spirituality.  It meant the world to my Dad to have such important men in our family there supporting him and affirming him.  I was so proud of my Dad for his transparency and willingness to be used by God to lead other men to becoming stronger in their faith and in their roles as the spiritual leaders in their homes.  This is an incredible speech challenging each of us to find our GodSpot- where we are in our faith, what we are doing with our faith, and understanding that God wants to use us where we are, how we are, and with what we’ve been.

Here is a link to his speech, if you are interested in watching:
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The weekend was full of family time and it was a great reminder of how much fun and laughter surrounds each gathering.  I am blessed to have loving and HILARIOUS relatives!

Avery got sick over the course of the weekend, then Haley got it two days later.  It was sad to see my kids down and out for a few days.  And I am a little embarrassed to admit it, BUT, I LOVE all the snuggle time that comes from kids that don’t feel good.  Avery didn’t leave my arms except for when she was sleeping (and then only part of the time) for three days.  I relished the time.  She now loves “the Mouse” after watching many episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse together on the couch.  I know that moments like those are why God gives Moms such loving arms- those arms that are sometimes the only things that can bring comfort.  I’m glad I get to be that comfort for three incredible kids. 

Girl Scout Haley!

In December, Haley brought home a paper about joining the Girl Scouts…then proceeded to give me a live advertisement for it- Girl Scouts change your life and teach you tons of skills you NEED!  Like camping, crafts, and lots of stuff!

So, we went to an interest meeting and learned a new craft while talking to some of the girls who are Brownies and Girl Scouts in our area.  Haley LOVED it and her excitement led to me find out about starting a troop.  Well, after going to the "interview" at the local headquarters I was thinking it might be more than I’d want to get into right now as far as leading, but we did enroll her in a local troop that had just started up.  Tonight is the first meeting!  Since the cookie sales had already started up, I went to grab a cookie sheet from the troop leader so Haley could sell her first cookies!!  She was thrilled. 

Hayden and I gave her some tips and facts to tell people and she was off.  No need to teach this little sales girl about up-selling, she’s a natural.  She made several phone calls…even to Hayden.  He said, of course!  Then told her he wanted one of every box.  She said, "okay, that will be eight boxes, now would you like eight of each?"  Then reminded him to get some for his Valentine.  She is a trip!  She has been telling everyone Hayden bought 28 boxes.  Even though he didn’t order 28, he has placed several orders…he can’t say no! 

Her goal was 100 boxes and she has surpassed her goal!  Pappaw Gary told her that if she fell a few boxes short, like 5, then to call him and he would buy some more.  Her response- "well, how about 10?  Then I’d be over my goal!"  I about fell out laughing.  We video taped her sales pitch…you can see it here:

A special thanks to all who bought some…she ended up selling over 150 boxes!!

Haley has her first Daisy meeting tonight.  I decided to teach myself to sew boutique ruffle pants, so Haley and I went to Hancock Fabrics this weekend.  She found some really cute Daisy fleece and we decided to make some pants for her.  She was my helper and loved learning to sew.  She was just giggly and willing to do anything.  She was so proud of her new pants that we made together that she wore them to bed and to school.  She thanked me several times and my heart was happy that we spent time learning something new together and that she enjoyed it as much as I did.


Update- since I am so late posting this, here are a few more experiences Haley has had with her Daisy troop.

Haley LOVES Daisies.  She hasn’t missed a meeting and is always so excited to go.  She did a great job delivering her cookies, but Trey gets the true award.  He carried more boxes than her, and ran door to door helping to deliver…even when she was whining and ready to stop, he wasn’t about to give up!  He is ready for the Boy Scouts and constantly reminds me that Boy Scouts sell Popcorn…I told him I’d definitely buy some from him!

There has been a pinning ceremony and Haley is earning her Daisy badges each meeting.  She loves her vest and is proud when we iron on a new patch.  Yea, for iron on patches!!





As a celebration the local troops all had a skating party…and even earned a fun patch for it.  (go figure!)  Haley was really tired and VERY grumpy before we left and was whining so much we almost didn’t take her- Hayden almost took Trey alone.  But, we all worked together to pull her emotions back together so we could go and have a fun time.

Here is an excerpt from my blog, LouderGod.com, to describe the rest of the evening:

“Well, I feel like a parent of a teenager!  I got a glimpse into that realm this week when we took Haley to her first skating party.  The whole family went and both Trey and Haley put on skates.  Haley has been dreading going to the skating rink because she didn’t know how to skate but I convinced her that the only way to learn is by going to the rink and practicing.  Luckily, my Mother-In-Law gave me great advice about tightening the wheels so we’d have a chance at success.  (She had plenty of experience at the skating rink because my husband loved skating when he was a kid…but who didn’t??)  Haley put on the skates and literally went straight out on the rink…and immediately landed on her behind.  Tears were flowing and I thought we were done.  I wouldn’t let her quit, so we went for a few practice strides on the carpet…then tightened the wheels some more.  From there she was on GO!  She had a little friend there and they were holding hands, going round and round, and even braved it into the center of the rink where it was “SO COOL!”  (Not to leave Trey out, he was a champ too.  He held on to the wall most of the time and never gave up- skating by himself and for much longer than I ever expected.  THEN, he too was brave and went on out to the middle to play limbo!”

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She’s asked MANY more times if she could go back, and has mentioned that she wishes she could live at the skating rink.  I hope this was a great lesson in getting back out there and trying it again.  I hope for my kids to be adventurous to try new things and have optimism that new experiences will be GREAT.  I think Trey and Avery already have this mind set down!

Poor Avery wanted to get out there on the skating rink so bad.  We had fun dancing to the music and playing in the water fountain!

Haley, Haley, Haley–Wow, what a week!


Haley turned six on Wednesday! The first thing I said to Hayden that morning was, “How do we have a six year old?” Time is going fast, but I think we do a great job of making our moments count so I feel like we are taking it in stride. With that said, I look at my little girl and don’t see my little baby. She is getting older, dressing herself (for better or for worse!) and continually amazes me at the things she says and thinks about. Haley is definitely a thinker…like her Dad. I’m so glad she got that trait of his.

Haley started her birthday week off last weekend. The Simons’, Mammaw Clack, Laura/Ryan and crew, my parents, Demarkis, and my cousin Brian all gathered here for a birthday lunch…complete with Birthday Cupcakes. (Choosing to have the famous Birthday Cupcakes at every opportunity is a trait she got from me!) She enjoyed getting a new set of legos and playing with her cousins. Avery adored having Caleb around. They are about the same size and she just repeated, “baby” the entire time they were here. Trey had a blast with Seth and got to attend a birthday party Saturday morning at Build-A-Bear. He had never been and had such a special time. I love watching him listen to the process and be excited about making his bear. He is such a sweetie! (and OH, so cute!)

Saturday night we took a family trip to a Frozen Yogurt shop in Millington with our Sunday School class. Our class is amazing and we have some truly special friends in this group. The kids all get along well and enjoy seeing each other often.

Sunday we had an amazing morning. Haley got BAPTIZED!!! The explanation of the events surrounding her baptism deserve a whole blog post in itself…so stay tuned. She was really nervous about going under water but we had a great pastor that was doing the baptisms and she felt really comfortable with him…he did magic tricks and made her feel right at home. Once she got out of the water she asked, “can I do that again??” She’s asked several times since if she can PLEASE get baptized again. She has told SO many people about her baptism and new identity- A Christian! When I went to school to eat lunch with her for her birthday, all the lunch ladies congratulated us on Haley’s baptism…I am so proud that she is so happy about loving Jesus that she can NOT keep it to herself.




Tuesday night, Haley had her pinning ceremony for Daisy Scouts. (explained in the Girl Scout post.)


Wednesday was Haley’s actual birthday. After chocolate chip pancakes on the blue plate she was off to school. Hayden was able to stay home a little later today, so that made the morning even more special. Haley was VERY worried about going to school and has been thinking about the fact that her teacher does birthday spankings…for months! As her birthday got closer she would ask if she could be absent on that day because she didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of her class. I sent a note to her teacher to make sure she knew how sensitive Haley was about it…Haley’s stomach was hurting two days before her birthday! I asked if they could do it in the morning so she wouldn’t be thinking about it all day. I don’t know if her teacher even had a chance to mention it before Haley had started crying. Of course, there were no birthday spankings that day!

Trey, Avery and I picked up some Happy Meals from McDonald’s and headed to school for lunch. We sat with Haley’s class and brought cookies to help celebrate. I think Trey had more fun than anyone.

After school, Hayden took Haley on a date for dinner. They went to Incredible Pizza. Hayden mentioned that they spent a fortune…but that it was definitely an investment. They had a blast having Haley-Daddy time and I’m not sure which one needed it more. When they got home we opened presents. Trey got to pick out some earrings for Haley and he was so proud to give them to her. It melted my heart, how eager he was to give them to her and tell her that HE had picked them out for her!

Saturday was the BIG party. Haley had thought up the idea to have an Artist Party with the girls in her class. The girls in the class call themselves The Butterfly Team. So, once I found an incredible deal on large canvases at Michael’s, it was a done deal! Haley is more into crafts than anyone I have ever known, so this was the perfect theme. I painted a sample butterfly for the girls to see and also a large canvas birthday picture…also butterfly themed. We set up Simons’ Studio in the basement and the girls had a fantastic time painting and giggling. I was so happy to hear them tell Haley over and over, “this party is better than the most awesome party!” “Will you have this for your party next year??”











As you can see, Haley wasn’t wearing a smile in this final picture.  She was upset because she didn’t want to take a picture with her painting that wasn’t done yet.  She is a perfectionist and LOVES color.  Like a true artist, she didn’t want her masterpiece revealed until it was completed. 

We were all tired by the end of the afternoon. Avery was probably most sad that the party was over because she had unlimited access to the candy from the Sundae Bar while we were opening presents and finishing our paintings. Trey hung in there like a champ with all the girls. His painting went abstract…he didn’t want to paint a girly butterfly. Haley is blessed to have such a loving little brother that desires to be a part of anything that is special to her.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we spent the afternoon playing soccer in the back yard and fishing. We even took a spin on the boat and shook our heads in disbelief…how are we so lucky to live on this lake??? God has given us far more than we ever could have imagined, in every aspect of our life- our kids, our location, our friends, family, our marriage, church, and the list goes on.

Haley learned about Leprechan’s at school this week and had written a note to one asking if he could come live with us…and promising that she would take good care of him. Hayden and I bought gnomes for the kids last year when we were planning our garden. So we thought it might be a great time to bring out the gnomes…our garden is starting to sprout! We decided the Leprechan could leave the gnomes for the kids. He left a green note explaining he was too busy in March to move in but that he asked his buddy to come live here and watch over our garden. The kids were ecstatic!

One last cherry on the cake was a dinner out to Cracker Barrel! That is the kids’ favorite restaurant…and our dinner we’d planned to eat wasn’t quite defrosted. Haley finished off this grading period with all brown lions- no cards pulled! This was a goal of hers and she made it…

I don’t know if there is anything else we could have thrown in this weekend!! We are exhausted- and wouldn’t have it any other way. Thankful.

The Garden

We were excited to see there was already a raised garden in the yard when we were first looking at this house.  Our neighbors warned us that the previous owners had not had luck growing anything but Hayden was not to be deterred!  We had wanted to plant a garden at the other house, but knew the deer and raccoon friends from the woods would not let us join in on the harvest.  So, after a lot of research- and a gift from my Grandpa Platten- we got started on planning and preparing for the garden.  We thought this would be a great way to teach the kids, give us all an activity to work on together, and have healthy vegetables to eat.  We aren’t really the most healthy vegetable eaters you know!

If you truly know Hayden, then you know that a new hobby consumes him.  He studied, planned, and you probably saw the post with his nerdy spreadsheet.  I love that he is like that because, if you truly know me, I AM NOT!! 




We have made it through several frost threats and it is really starting to sprout some greenery.  We can’t wait to see what will come out of it!  And now we have two Gnomes, brought by Lucky the Leprechan, to keep watch over the garden!

Never Fear!!

Never fear, Batmen are here! 

I don’t have much to report on this post, but I couldn’t resist posting a picture of these two crazy kids.  They love wearing their Bat-gear!  I’m happy I have a husband who gets into things the kids love and makes life fun for them.  (and he’s cute!  And probably a little mad this picture is out of focus…oops!)



Valentine’s Day!

We had a fun Valentine’s Day!  We started off with a decorative breakfast of waffles with strawberries in the shape of a heart (chocolate chips, too, of course!)  The kids all looked really cute and humored me by wearing the matching clothes I made them- ruffle pants for the girls, a tie for Trey.  I was so proud and they looked adorable!  (I promise Avery did wear shoes to school that day!)




The day was fairly uneventful, but I’m always glad for a reminder of who I love and why I love them.  I put post-it notes all over Hayden’s mirror and a trail of them from the door when he got home.  He felt special and I was glad I put forth the effort to do it.  Plus, I had a great lunch with my MOM!

We do little gifts for Valentine’s Day.  Hayden got me my favorite candy/addiction- Dove bite sized chocolate.  I got him the ultimate romantic gift- a mailbox!  I promise it’s not lame.  Ours didn’t close and Hayden is always the one who gets the mail.  I was relieved that he LOVED it.



The real highlight of my day was giving Avery her gift!  I was telling a friend of mine how Avery’s “comfort” is to put her finger in her mouth and the finger on the other hand in her belly button.  This is what she does when she is unsure, needs comfort, or is tired.  This eliminates all onesies, one-piece outfits, and she gets hysterical in her car seat if she can’t get to her belly button.  My friend reminded me that Cabbage Patch babies have belly buttons!  I was obsessed from that moment on trying to find Avery a Cabbage Patch.  Avery loves stuffed animals and babies (especially real ones) so I thought this would be PERFECT!! 

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I was determined to find one with big brown eyes to match hers.  After searching too many stores to admit to, I started looking online.  I found the perfect one that looked exactly like her on the Cabbage Patch website.  I was forced to pay way too much for shipping, but I justified the cost because she RARELY gets anything new…just part of being #3.  She loved her baby and I was so happy to get her something special- for just HER!


Facebook post on the Eve of Valentine’s Day:
”My heart melted tonight when I overheard Haley giving Trey a sucker (which she didn’t like) to Trey and he being so excited. Then she asked Trey who was going to be his Valentine. He said, "You are!!" She gave him a huge hug and he hugged her back. She said, "WE ARE VALENTINE’S!" So glad she has a special brother to keep those future Valentine’s in check!”


Another favorite part of the Valentine’s Day season for me was asking friends and family to write their love stories for my blog, LouderGod.com.  Feel free to go get inspired by reading their stories.  I did it as an encouragement and point of hope for all couples!  I have a true passion for marriage and Hayden and I a blessed to be in a role in our church, teaching “young” marrieds, where we get to see marriages in their ups and downs…and sometimes get the opportunity to help those “downs” turn back into “ups.”

valentine decor