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Thoughts as We Wait on Hadley

This is it…we have made it to the end.  I will be officially 40 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow.  I can’t believe it!  I am SO beyond eager to meet sweet Hadley, I just wish she could be born NOW.  I keep reminding myself that she will come when she is ready, but I don’t know that it’s really keeping me from driving myself insane.  What a waiting game this is!

My mind keeps flashing back to the quiet Saturday morning, when I took a pregnancy test while Craig was taking Jada outside because I figured I was just going to be disappointed by the negative result and didn’t see the point in getting Craig’s hopes up for no reason.  I was obviously wrong, and in an instant, everything changed.  It is funny how a little blue line can have so much power over your future.  We have spent nine months since that January morning preparing for our baby’s arrival, although I highly doubt anyone can every truly be prepared for parenthood.

I remember some people telling Craig and I that we shouldn’t get married right when I graduated college…that we should wait a few years.  We were told that we were too young, and that it was a bad idea to try to balance a marriage while Craig was in medical school.  And now, here we are, getting ready to not just “balance a marriage,” but to start a family when Craig still has almost two years left in medical school.  But the truth is, there will never be a perfect time to get married or to start a family.  If we had decided to wait for the perfect time, we would be waiting forever.  Yeah, medical school takes up a ton of time, and it’s not always easy on us.  But you know what?  Residency takes up more time than medical school.  And fellowships take up more time than residency.

So Craig and I made the decision to not wait for a more convenient time, but to jump into this adventure together.  God has gotten us where we are now, and through Him, we will be the best parents we can be.

So, as we enjoy our last few days as just Craig, Ashley, and Jada, here is a look through my pregnancy, complete with a growing belly, a baby shower, and a finally complete nursery.

So excited to find out we are expecting a baby!  Yes, I peed on that stick...get over it.

So excited to find out we are expecting a baby! Yes, I peed on that stick…get over it.

Growing Belly

Growing Belly!

Some wonderful friends back in Georgia hosted a baby shower for me when Craig and I were visiting.  I was 27 weeks pregnant.  I seriously couldn't have imagined a more beautiful, perfect shower.

Some wonderful friends back in Georgia hosted a baby shower for me when Craig and I were visiting. I was 27 weeks pregnant. I seriously couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful, perfect shower.

We also had some maternity photos taken by an awesome photographer down here in Charleston (HannahLane Photography)!  Hannah was such a pleasure to work with, and she did an awesome job.  These are just a few of my favorites.

We also had some maternity photos taken by an awesome photographer down here in Charleston (HannahLane Photography)! Hannah was such a pleasure to work with, and she did an awesome job. These are just a few of my favorites.

Hadley's Nursery

I LOVE Hadley’s Nursery! My parents did such an incredible job. I love the soothing colors mixed with different patterns and textures. This is fit for a princess!

Hadley's Nursery Collage

Love the chandelier above the rocker, the monogram above the bed, and the awesome shelves above the dresser. Have I mentioned how incredibly talented my parents are?! Now if only some of that talent could get passed down to me…

Exciting News from the McKs…

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Well, Craig and I certainly have a big year ahead.  Craig will be finishing up his second year of medical school this spring, and then he has to take Step 1 of the Boards!  He will spend five or so weeks studying just about twelve or so hours a day in preparation.  It does not sound like fun to me, but I know Craig is going to rock it!

After Craig’s Boards, he will get a few days off for us to do something fun together (he scheduled to take his exam a few days early so that we could have some time) before starting his third year in medical school!  No more summer vacations for Craig!  But third year will be very exciting, because Craig finally gets to spend some real time in the hospital doing rotations.  The first two years of medical school are generally spent in the classroom setting, while the last two years are spent in the hospital.  I know Craig is excited and ready for the change.

But all of that news pales in comparison to the real news we have…so I will let this picture do the talking…

Sitting in a Tree

Hmmm…what comes at the end of the song?  Oh, right!  “Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.”

It’s true, Craig and I are expecting our first baby!  Baby McK is due in September of this year, and we could NOT be more excited!

We took that picture while my parents were in town this past weekend.  My dad made the chalkboard with wood, some chalkboard paint, and a rope.  My mom wrote on the board with chalkboard markers.  It turned out so cute!  Of course, they are ridiculously creative, so the adorableness should be no surprise to me.

Aside from their jobs (my mom is a teacher and my dad owns a business with my uncle), my parents do some interior decorating on the side… “for fun.”  So of course, my parents are CRAZY-EXCITED to do a nursery for their very first grandbaby, and that is why this next picture was also so necessary…

Nursery Under Construction

My mom and her friend designed the sign together, and then my mom had it printed at a store in Georgia before my parents came down to visit.  I thought this one also turned out super cute!  This room is currently a guest room slash our condo “annex,” where we have piles of boxes that we still need to go through, so it really will be a disaster zone to get this room baby-ready.  But we are all up for the challenge!

And of course, what good would my parents’ trip to beautiful Charleston be without a trip to the beach?  So we obviously had to take this picture as well…

Baby Sandals!

We are clearly very excited for the changes ahead of us this year, but that’s not to say we are not still a little bit like, “Whoa…is this for real?” Our first doctor appointment was about a week and a half ago, and they did an ultrasound while we were there.  That’s when the whole situation got “really real” for us.  We saw the tiny little baby’s heart beating at 188 beats per minute, and we were in love.  So crazy that we can see the heart beat so early on, but it gives such value to the fact that this is not a “thing.”  It is a baby…a human life that is growing inside of me, and it is the best and craziest news ever!

So here is our “Holy crap, I guess this is for real” picture, followed by a couple of our “There’s a baby in your belly!” pictures…

Craziness!

There's a Baby in Your Belly!

There's a Baby in There!

There are so many changes and challenges ahead for our little growing McKinney family.  We are thrilled with this blessing, and we pray every day for health for our baby and for guidance as we figure out what exactly it means for us to be parents.  It’s certainly not going to be easy, especially with Craig being gone at the hospital more over the next two years, but we know that we can do it.  We are trying our best to lean on God throughout this whole process, and we have been so blessed with support from family and friends.

Yes, it is definitely going to be a chaotic year, but I have a feeling that is might just be our best year yet! 🙂

Our First Ultrasound of Sweet Baby McK

(UPDATE: Click here to find out what we are having!)

Apple Pie Muffins

Apple Pie Muffins

With Craig being in medical school, we really don’t get to spend too much time together.  Recently, Craig has been trying to make more of an effort to be extra focused and productive while he does study so that our together time can actually be real “together time”…not Craig, me, and the third wheel of medical school notes and notecards.  We also want to be more intentional about how we spend the time we have together so that it is legitimate quality time and not wasted time vegging out on the couch and messing on our own computers.  We want to actually plan fun activities in advance so we can make the most of the little time we have.

Craig and I both love college football.  We could happily spend a date night at home watching a South Carolina game, and that might just be the perfect evening for us.  Or it might not.  Watching a South Carolina football game as Craig’s and my “together time” does in theory sound like a great idea since we both love football.  However, this date night idea is always a gamble. When a football game is really bad, Craig has a more difficult time than I do with not letting the outcome of the game affect his mood for the next couple hours.  He works to let the game go, but neither one of us is interested in having a football game make or break a date night, so we just never know if it will be a good or bad idea.

Of the last three South Carolina games, our game against UGA was the only “date-night” game, and the next two were games that we tracked online or watched on t.v., but Craig still studied and I did some work around the condo.  God clearly understood how desperately Craig and I needed quality time, because the South Carolina game against UGA was the only one of these past three that we won.  And we didn’t just win.  We obliterated them.  That game was a fabulous amount of fun to watch.  We enjoyed some egg salad sandwiches and a game of cribbage while we watched.

The game against LSU sucked, but we fought hard, and I was still proud.

Then there was the South Carolina game against Florida this past weekend.  That game was incredibly painful from beginning to end.  It was embarrassing…agonizing…horrific.  We will just leave it at that.  The one and only redeeming moment of the otherwise miserable three hours of a football game (if that’s what you want to call it) was tasting the batch of apple pie muffins I made to help distract myself from the massacre on t.v.

These muffins are unbelievably moist, but they also have a delightfully crusty streusel topping.  I adapted this recipe from allrecipes.com, making a few changes to my liking loving.  Please try them.  You won’t regret it.  I mean, how can you possibly go wrong when you are making a dessert-for-breakfast type of treat?!

Ingredients

Muffins

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
    • If you don’t have buttermilk, you don’t need to waste you time and money going to the store to get some.  Click here to see how easy it is to make your own dairy or nondairy buttermilk for baking!
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • I used Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3-4 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples
    • The batter in this recipe is very sweet, so I highly recommend sticking to Granny Smith apples, or a least make sure to use something tart that will not get lost in the muffin.

Topping

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
    • Again, I used a combination of Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine and Blue Bonnet Light.  Either would work, but I was just using up the end of one stick and the beginning of another.

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together 2 1/4 cups of flour, baking soda, salt, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, and nutmeg.  In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk, 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved.  Pour egg mixture and diced apples into flour mixture and stir until everything is well blended.
  2. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan(s), filling cups almost to the top.  For me, the batter ended up making 18 “regular-sized” muffins (a pan and a half).
  3. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Add in the 2 Tbsp melted butter, mixing until well blended.  It should be dark brown and clumpy.  Sprinkle over the top of the muffins.
  4. Bake 25 minutes at 375, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly touched.  Remove from muffin pan to a cooling rack, and enjoy!

Making Time for Quality Time

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Making Time for Quality Time

So med school basically takes up a ton of time…and money.  It’s tough figuring out how to spend “quality” time together, because when Craig does have a break from school, and when I do have a break from working, cleaning, and cooking, we just want to sit and veg out on the couch.  We sit and watch the NCIS marathons on USA, and then all of the sudden, it’s time for bed.  Even if we do decide we have just enough time and energy to do something fun together, we definitely don’t have enough time and energy to plan time together in advance, and then follow through with it.  I mean, there are definitely a ton of cool and exciting things to do in Charleston, but most of them require a bigger budget than what we have, plus advanced planning.

Craig and I have really enjoyed having more time together this summer.  Craig’s had more time in the evenings and on the weekends to spend time with me and help out around the condo.  I’ve had more free time since Craig has been able to help out some more around our condo, and I’ve enjoyed the free time that has given me to spend with him.  We’ve also gotten to visit both of our families this summer, which is an obvious highlight for me.

However, the summer is quickly coming to a close, and Craig and I are  dealing with the realization that not only will med school continue to require more and more from Craig, but also that we are not going to get another summer like this.  Essentially, this has been Craig’s last summer vacation ever.

So, in preparation for not having the time or energy to come up with fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to spend quality time together once the summer ends, I decided to use some of the extra time I do have right now to brainstorm in advance.  I searched Pinterest, other websites, and of course my own, brilliant mind to create this list.  So now, when Craig and I do have a little time to spend together, we will have a guide of ideas to help us out.  Some of these are things we’ve already done, and some are things we want to do.  Some ideas are better or worse depending on general location (it’s way easier to go to the beach at this point in our life than going to hike in the mountains), and some are even specific to Charleston.  Still, I think this list is at least somewhat relatable no matter where you live, and I hope to add to it in time and continue to pull ideas from it in the future when we don’t live in Charleston anymore.  In the end, I am very happy with this list of mostly free or inexpensive quality time slash date ideas.

Free(-ish) Quality Time/Date Ideas

  • Play Tennis
    • Ok, so I’m quite terrible at tennis…as in I don’t know anybody that I’ve ever met who is as bad as me.  That being said, Craig enjoys tennis, so I try to make a point to hit the ball with him every now and then.  Plus, my skills can only go up, so I really don’t have anything to lose.
  • Throw a Frisbee
  • Outdoor Picnic
    • It may seem funny that I am specifying for a picnic to be outside, but I want to stress the idea of actually packing all of the food up to take somewhere else and just get out of the home, as well as enjoying some nice weather.  Especially since I work from home, it’s nice to be able to just get out and have a change of scenery and to get some fresh air.
  • Go See the Lighthouse
    • There is a lighthouse just off the shore of James Island that Craig has never seen, and we want to make a point to go visit it together.  Obviously everyone doesn’t have a lighthouse nearby, but I’m sure there places near everybody’s home that you just never make the time to go explore, and you definitely should!
  • Take a Walk on the Beach
    • It’s really sad what a rarity it is for Craig and me to go walk on the beach, considering we only live a few miles away…We need to fix that.

      Enjoying quality time on Folly Beach together while I enjoy getting to wear this fabulous hat that I got at the market in downtown Charleston.

  • Waterfront Park
    • This is a popular place where you can walk near the ocean, and there are also fountains that kids can play in.  I know I’ve seen those fountains other places, the kind where the water shoots up from the ground.  It’s fun to enjoy the breeze of the ocean while we can people watch and see little kids playing in the fountains.
  • Explore James Island County Park
    • This is a very popular park that is about a seven minute drive from where Craig and I live.  They do Christmas lights here every year, but we want to go explore all the other aspect of it, as well.
  • Take the Pup to the Dog Park
  • Sketch and/or Make a List of “Dream Home Must-Haves”
    • I really think that Craig and I could be happy just about anywhere, but it’s still fun to think about.  Being that neither of us are really artistic, this mainly means that Craig is looking through realty websites while I am looking through homes on Pinterest, and then we show each other our favorites and say why we like them.
  • Go Hiking
    • This is one of our absolute favorite things to do together, but we don’t get to do it very often considering we live at the beach.  If only we could plop a mountain fifteen minutes outside of Charleston…

      Craig and I went up to the mountains for our first anniversary, and we went on a fifteen mile hike one of the days we were up there. It was so fun and exhausting at the same time!

  • Board Games/Puzzles
  • Make a Fort and Watch a Movie from Inside
    • We actually did this the weekend that I first made this list.  Neither of us had built a fort in years, and we’re going to be doing this type of stuff when we have kids anyway, so we figured we would give it a shot!  Since we were building a fort, we decided it was only appropriate to watch Disney movies over any other movie.  And now Craig has seen Cinderella!
  • Nerf Gun Wars
    • Craig is under the misguided belief that he has a chance of beating me at this.  Come on!  I grew up with two brothers the same and almost the same age as me, so let’s be real.  Craig doesn’t stand a chance.
  • Volunteer Together
    • Craig and I volunteer with the 2-year-olds at our church together, and I can’t tell you how rewarding it is.  Not only is it fun and amazing to see what a difference you are making, but it’s a wonderful feeling to see your significant other be giving of him or herself and make a difference to others.
  • Make Pizzas Together
    • With Craig’s dairy allergy, this is really the only way we can have pizza, but I think other people would really enjoy it, too.  Instead of doing take-out or delivery or something frozen, make your own!  Be creative and try new toppings.  The great thing about pizza is that it’s really hard to completely ruin.
  • At-Home Fondue
    • If you don’t have a fondue pot, just use a crock-pot.
  • Bake and/or Cook Something New
    • I stress the idea of this being something that neither one of you has made before, or else that person may end up making it alone while the other person watches.  The idea is to get both people involved.
  • Go for a Bike Ride
    • Don’t forget your helmet!
  • Rollerblading/Rollerskating Outside
    • Craig and I don’t have our own, so I’m think I’m might try to confiscate my parents’ stuff since they haven’t used any of it in about fifteen years…
    • Don’t forget to wear a helmet!
  • Exercise Together
  • Visit a Well-Known Point of Interest Nearby
    • We visited the Angel Oak on Johns Island, which is one of the oldest living organisms east of the Mississippi River.  It is 65ft tall and estimated to be 300-400 years old.  It is 180ft at its widest spread point, which is longer than any other live oak in America.  There are a lot of other Charleston POIs that we want to visit while we live here, but we did this first because it’s completely free and close to where we live.

      This picture does not do the tree justice for how incredible it really is. It’s seriously amazing!

  • Dinner on Our Back Porch
    • Even a tiny change in scenery goes a long way!
  • TV Show/Movie Marathon
    • If you are going to do this, make sure to be active about choosing a theme and maybe mixing it with another idea (like doing a puzzle if you’ve already seen the movies or baking something).  Just make sure to not turn this into vegging together, because that’s what we’re trying to prevent.
  • Watch Football
    • Or any sport that you both love!  Find a team you are both passionate about, or be competitive and pick a game with rival teams between you two…you could even wager house chores or something on the outcome.
  • Breakfast in Bed Meets Dinner and a Movie
  • Play 20 Questions About Each Other
  • Read Out Loud Together
    • This may sound silly, but Craig and I really love doing this.  We just lay down on the couch together with a book that interests us both, and we take turns reading to each other.  We’ve done it with relationship books, pediatric case files, the Bible, and other books.
  • Make a Bucket List for You as a Couple

Low Cost Quality Time/Date Ideas

  • Go to a Roller-rink
  • Go Ice Skating
  • Rock Climbing on a Rock Wall
  • Coffee Date
  • Minor League Baseball Game
  • Minor League Hockey Game
  • Bowling
  • Miniature Golf
  • Go-Carts
  • Local Improv
  • Arcade
  • Whirlyball
  • Take an Art Class Together
    • Groupon always has these offers coming up, so next time you see one, go ahead and grab it!
  • Go to a Shooting Range

Quality Time/Date Ideas That Require a Little More Time/Planning and Money

    • Dinner Cruise
    • Go to a Big College Football Game
    • Go to an MLB Game

      There isn’t any MLB in the Carolinas, so it was quite easy for me to convert Craig to be a Braves fan. This is at a Braves game this summer that we went to see with my whole family. It was a lot of fun!

    • Go to an NHL Game

So many ideas, and I’m sure I will add more!  We’ve had so much fun trying new things together, and we can’t wait to try out more of these ideas that we haven’t tried yet!

First Married Birthday

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Last week, Craig and I celebrated the first of our birthdays as a married couple.  I turned 23 on March 14.  I’ve always liked my birthday, especially since it’s also Pi Day, but I’ve never been a person to make a huge deal out of birthdays in general. However, this birthday was different.  Not only was it my first birthday as a married woman, but this year, my birthday fell directly in the middle of Craig’s spring break. That’s right.  That means he had no school, no studying, no labs, and no hospital visits to claim his time.  Once I realized this spectacular timing sometime last fall, my birthday instantly skyrocketed to the top of my list of important things.  After all, 23 is basically the biggest milestone birthday in everybody’s life, right?!  😉

My birthday was terrific.  Of course, having my birthday fall in the middle of Craig’s spring break would have been even better if I had gotten a spontaneous week off of work, but I’m not going to get picky. 🙂  I loved spending time throughout the week with my wonderful husband.  We went out to eat at a Greek restaurant that we love down here, and we went on our SECOND movie date ever since we began dating. Craig made me a delicious breakfast in bed…that was awesome.  To make my week even better, Craig got to go with me when I went to the grocery store and when I walked Jada.  Now, that may sound like a silly thing to get excited about, but I would have never believed how lonely I would get doing things like that alone – especially in Publix, where I have no phone service and can’t even call people to talk while I’m shopping.  They may be my favorite grocery store, but that is definitely Publix’s one major downfall.

Ultimately, Craig did an amazing job making my birthday special, but the truth is, my birthday was going to be special no matter what, because I got to spend a lot of quality time with Craig throughout my birthday week.  It’s crazy how much you can miss someone even when they are living with you.  Med school is definitely a constant reminder to never take any quality time for granted.  What a blessing last week was!

And this was a must share: My First Married Birthday Card!  One of the things I love about Craig’s and my relationship is that we are constantly joking around and laughing at things.  This card is no exception.  I especially love that it’s my first birthday card from Craig as his wife because it’s definitely something I would have thought was hilarious before I was married, but it’s even funnier now that I have experienced even a tiny bit of what marriage actually is.

(I italicized some of the ones that were particularly funny to me.  I’m sure it changes from couple to couple.)

The Top 10 Things I Don’t Say Often Enough:

10. I hate to miss the game, but this floor could really use a good scrubbing.

9. Why don’t you buy a nice new pair of shoes to go with that outfit?

8. Let’s rent a romantic movie.  If I see one more car chase, I’m gonna hurl!

7.Yeah, I’m pretty tired, too, so let’s just cuddle.

6. Why can’t they show real-looking women in those lingerie catalogs?

5. My thumb’s getting tired.  Would you mind holding the remote for a while?

4. I’m not sure we’ve seen enough of your family lately.

3. You got enough blankets over there?
-Craig’s side-note he wrote for this: So actually I do say this one…just in my most sarcastic voice after you steal all the covers. 😛

2. Sure, I’ll be glad to hold your purse while were’s standing next to this construction site.

1. I love you forever!
-This one is in bold because I must say that Craig tells me how much he loves me all the time…basically non-stop, and I think he definitely deserves credit for that…of course me announcing that fact on this blog probably falls into the same category as #2 on the list above, but oh well.  😉

[Forced] Family Fun

When I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day, she told me something that totally blew my mind.  She was reading an article about New Year’s resolutions not to make, and “spend more time with family” was on the list!  Basically, the article said that if someone were to make that resolution, he or she would only be setting him or herself up for failure because no one is ever going to want to give up vacation time to see family or spend money on a plane ticket to see family.  The compromise this article offered: calling once a week or once every other week.  What?!

Now I know realize I am closer to my parents than most people.  I talk to them just about everyday, sometimes multiple times a day.  Still, I have such a hard time accepting the fact that a published article encouraged people to be selfish with time.  The article said that you’d also be setting your family up for disappointment, so by not making the resolution, “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.”

I live six hours away from my parents, and so far I have been blessed enough to see them just about once a month since I got married.  My husband and I have also been able to visit with his parents a good amount, as well.  I’m not saying that people who don’t visit their parents monthly or talk to their parents every day don’t love their family.  I know there are plenty of people who can’t see their families as much as they would love to, and I am so thankful to be able to see my family as often as I can.  What baffles me is the idea of someone  wasting vacation time and money on visiting family.  How is that a waste?  I began to wonder reasons that I view family time so differently than a lot of Americans apparently view family time.

Of course there are a lot of overlapping and compounding factors, but this is one thing that really stood out in my mind: [Forced] Family Fun

When I was really little, this was just called family fun.  At least one day a week, we were going to do something fun as a family.  I remember my utter excitement when Sunday nights would roll around and we’d all watch whatever was playing on the Magical World of Disney on ABC Family (before the channel started playing more risque, non-family shows).  The summers were even better because my mom would plan fun things all throughout the week since she was off of work.  Whether it was tie-dying shirts or going to the park, we were always doing fun things together.  Furthermore, vacation for our family quite often meant going to see extended family.  We didn’t have to choose between the two, because they were the same thing.  Two or three times a year, my family all piled in our mini-van, and before that a Camry (guess which one of the three kids always got stuck in the middle seat) to travel to Ohio or Florida, visiting our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  And even when we did start going on other vacations together, it was always as a family.

It wasn’t until we were older that we lovingly worked the word “Forced” into the title of our Family Fun night.  When my brothers and I were younger, we couldn’t wait for our family night, but as we got older, our own activities and social lives started to take priority in our eyes.  It wasn’t that we didn’t enjoy time together, but we ran cross-country, were all involved in different clubs, and we all had our own groups of friends.  How in the world were we supposed to pick one night a week that we would all be together when none of our schedules coincided?  Yet my parents persisted.  No matter how mad it made us at times, they were determined that we would still make time to be a family.  There were occasional exceptions to the rule, but “occasional” is the key word.  We would watch movies as a family, have family getaways to Hilton Head for a weekend, and we would support each other in our extracurriculars as a family.  Yes, it was sometimes against my brothers’ and my will.  Yes, this time was certainly forced.  We hated the feeling that we were missing out on social activities or anything else “just” to make time for each other.  And yet, it was usually a great time once we were actually there.  I would wonder Why didn’t I want to be here, again?

Looking back, I think it was the people growing up without [Forced] Family Fun that really missed out.  They missed out on time spent and memories that they can never get back.  They missed out on learning that a lot of their friends will come and go, but family will always be there.  I’m not saying it’s bad to be social or to be involved in a lot of activities or to enjoy a break from family every now and then so you can catch your breath.  I think all of those things are important as well.  In fact, one of the things I miss the most being down in Charleston is the lack of social time I have with friends.  Still, I’m saying that family (and the truest of friends who end up becoming like family) should come first in your list of priorities.  I’m so thankful my parents were willing to put in the time and effort it took to teach me this valuable lesson.

So, in honor of [Forced] Family Fun, here are some of the wonderful memories my family has made throughout my life.

My family was in Destin with my grandparents, and my grandma found these boy and girl matching sailor outfits.

At my grandparents' house in Ohio.

Alex's and my high school graduation.

Our college spring break in 2009.

Alex came home to see Craig and me after we got engaged.

Up in the Blueridge Mountains this past summer, after the wedding.

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