2016 Review

So 2016 seems to have been a tough year for a lot of people.  Whether you had personal heartache, were saddened by the events happening in our country and world or were dismayed and brokenhearted at the election results, I think most of us can say that we are ready for the calendar page to turn.

I’ve tried to re-frame our own year which certainly had it’s hard parts, but also to celebrate all the good that occurred.  And as in last year’s 2015 review, you’ll get to see some of the visual representation of all our goodness from 2016. Thank you Instagram and Google Photos.  And full disclosure (this may go without saying) but a certain someone stole the show in 2016.  So glad you joined our family JPC.

January 2016

One of my favorite pics ever.  From our Babymoon at Butterfly Gap Retreat. So sad to hear they’ve sold the property due to family illness, but hoping that another owner will reopen. This place holds a lot of special memories.  Good thing we settled on a name for Bebe during our time here.  If we’d only known what would transpire two weeks later.

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February 2016

June Parker Cracraft came catapulting into our world on an early Saturday morning, February 13th at 1:57am.  Stay tuned for more of her birth story as we approach her first birthday.  (Seriously…birthday?!?!?!?!) 2 lbs 2 oz and 14. 3 inches of pure sweet and spiciness! Our lives haven’t been the same since! This is one of my favorite pics–3 days old here.

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March 2016

This was one of the biggest milestones for me as a mother.  On her 47th day of life, I got to nurse my sweet JP.  Breastfeeding was something I really wanted to continue for as long as I could, so when our journey didn’t take near the path we had planned, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be able to nurse June.  And I’m proud to say we’re still going strong 10 months later! We also celebrated Easter together as a family.

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April 2016

April 11th.  Taking our girl home from the NICU.  Zoom in and you can see the look of excitement and fear on the beau’s face. He was terrified of the drive home. Oxygen tank, monitor, and two folks who were oh so excited but oh so scared.  What a mix of emotions.  I’ll never forget that day.

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May 2016

My 35th birthday.  Our first date out after June came home.  Thankful for amazing in-laws who have stepped up in so many ways that I can’t begin counting.  And thankful for an amazing dinner at Distilled that night.  Sweet Sweet Snuggles after we arrived home that night.  Also very thrilled to celebrate my first Mother’s Day although it was somewhat bittersweet.  2016-05-11-22-19-30-1

June 2016

These two. What a bond they have. I cannot imagine this year without this guy by my side. We celebrated his first Father’s Day and also what an incredible support he has been. He worked 4 nights a week while June was in the NICU (because we had decided that him picking up extra shifts was a good idea before the baby came).  I also went back to work 4 days a week in late May and we celebrate and remembered my Mom on her birthday.  Quite an emotional month–he really earned his keep in June. We had our first house guest as my Aunt Ruthie came to visit for a few days and some good friends stopped in from out of town!  Also JP was able to come off oxygen this month! Yay for no more tubes!

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July 2016

July brought our first big road trip as we went to Virginia to see my family.  I will always treasure this sweet picture of my Grandma and June.

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August 2016

June spent a lot of time with Gigi and Pops this summer once I went back to work.  This was her first trip to the Disney Store and can we say someone has her Pops wrapped around her little finger?

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September 2016

Big milestones for June this month–sitting forward in her stroller and sitting up (assisted). We spent a LOT of days getting out of the house when June first arrived home taking walks around our small town and enjoying time with the girls at the coffee shop. The summer was a bit hot, so we got out on the town quite a bit in the fall.  June really enjoyed the ArtWalk, although she was asleep for most of it.  She also started physical therapy this month, but like the rock star she is, only needed two sessions! We do lots of work at home with her and she’s continuing to make big strides! I also got to celebrate my favorite season with my favorite redhead!

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October 2016

We took our first little vacation as a family of three. The beau and JP were able to tag along to a work conference in Atlanta, but first, we hit up June’s first Cincinnati Reds game. Although they lost, they lost to the Chicago Cubs so June got to see the World Series winners! How exciting! We also got to meet Aunt Tammy on the way to Atlanta and try out the pool at our hotel. October also brought starting solid foods, drinking from a sippy cup and enjoying Halloween.

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November 2016

Turkey Turkey Turkey!!! Our little Turkey LOVED Thanksgiving at her Aunt Walene and Uncle Donnie‘s! It was her first big family gathering and she was quite the center of attention.  She enjoyed turkey, sweet potatoes and peas herself! I also went with Mama to vote in this historic election.

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December 2016

Holidays.  How magical through the eyes of a child, right?  June got to meet Santa, enjoyed lots of love from friends and family, tag along on Mama and Daddy’s Christmas date and we had a lot of quality time together–the BEST gift.  June is sitting up on her own, army crawling and into EVERYTHING.  We were grateful to get an overnight in Cincinnati to reflect on our year and set some goals for the upcoming one.

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Truly as the year has come to a close, we are just so grateful for all the wonderful things brought our way through June Parker.  We have a lovely, healthy girl, sweet puppy, wonderful partnership in our marriage, two great jobs and a house over our head.

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Love Your Spouse

I was tagged in a post last week ago by one of my dearest friends and proponents of marriage to participate in the 7 days of Love Your Spouse/Significant Other Challenge! I was challenged to post a picture with my beloved to Facebook everyday for 7 days and to challenge 2 people each day to keep the celebration of Love and Marriage going.

I’m normally not one to participate in these types of things, but if I’ve learned anything in this season it’s that marriage has to come first.  I’m so grateful for the wonderful teammate and partner that I get to share the day-to-day with.  The past 7 months have been tough and we’ve been hanging on by a thread it seems but we have really worked hard in the past month to pull our crap together and work harder to be the best team we can, to show June the best marriage and family we can and to be the best friend, coworker and family member to those we love.

That starts with us individually and is only amplified by your closest partner.  I’m so grateful to have such an awesome teammate.

Since it’s a certain someone’s birthday, I just had to share here those sweet photos that I came upon over the past week.  Very grateful every single day to know this one has my back and my  heart.

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Day 2-The main thing

One of the biggest changes in our life over the past year has been the beau’s new career as a nurse and transition to working night shift. In the first 5 years of our marriage, he commuted at least an hour each way Monday-Friday to sit behind a desk, process shipping orders for the software company he worked for. Now during most of the tenure of our marriage, he’s been in school of some sort so I was used to him not being home every night, but the routine of our life was still pretty much the same.

Sunday–church and food/meal prep for the week ahead. Monday-Friday–breakfast/coffee together, work, eat dinner together most nights, go to the gym or walk together. Saturday-he’d have clinicals and then we’d do some sort of date night–be it at home or out on the town.

Life is much different now.

12 hour shifts 2-3 times a week. Never the same days. Leaving for work around 5:45pm–about 30 minutes after I arrive home–and returning back home around 8-8:30 the next morning–long after I’ve left for work. Not sitting behind a desk all day but being on your feet for 12 hours and some nights literally running around for hours at a time. Caring for critically ill patients and their families. Physically, mentally and emotionally draining.

Meal prep is tough–he’s not eating on a normal schedule and these days I’m not feeling like much of a cook (thanks to the Cub). There are times when he’s working 3 days in a row that I may not see him for 3 days especially if I’ve got evening commitments. Sleep schedule. This is the biggie. He’s constantly tired and it’s hard to go do fun stuff when you’re always tired.

This type “A” Girl is living the most non-type “A” life imaginable. 

And while it’s been tough, there are also some really sweet things that come from it.

We don’t have “planned” date nights as often, but we relish the opportunity to run errands together on a Wednesday night and sneak in dinner at a favorite spot. The time we do have off together is so much more meaningful. There are times in which the beau will have a stretch of 5 days off just the way his schedule falls. It’s been so nice to get house renovations completed, or just steal away for a super quick beach getaway when that happens. He rarely works Saturday nights so we relish those as nights we actually get to go to bed together and wake up together on Sunday. Our Sundays have truly become a Sabbath. My gratitude for him and the job he does, how he provides for our family and just being in the same house (even if he’s upstairs sleeping as I write this very blog) overflows.

Spontaneous Beach Getaway!

I’m reminded of the analogy I use with my students of putting in the big rocks first, then the smaller, ones, then gravel, sand and then water. In that order, everything fits. When things are out of order, then your container overflows and things get stressful. That’s where we are.

Things have changed in order to put in this big rock first. Protecting our marriage is so important. I’ve had to say no to people and things I really want to invest in. Even now, I’m trying to figure out how I can continue to make space for what is most important in my life–and for me, that’s my relationship with Christ, our marriage, caring for myself–mind body and soul, creating a loving home and connecting with other women. If it’s not one of those big rocks, it’s not going in first. Intentionality with our schedule to come home right after work on those days he’s works most days is a must. Or determining a time we can meet up for coffee in Lexington. Connection is key. If that doesn’t happen, we easily will fall into the trap of getting a little snippy, and our “sandpaper moments” skyrocket.

This has all lead to more time at home for myself. Whitespace if you will.  And this isn’t always easy, but oh how things come full circle. That was the intention I chose for 2015. It’s October and the intention wasn’t abandoned, it just didn’t become the central focus of my blogging or my every day thoughts.

But what happened was that I began living it. Creating whitespace means a lot of change and sometimes that is hard–hello lonely nights! But learning how to live in this new schedule and support the beau by putting up my kickstand and being present.

A place of stopping. Slowing down. Doing the necessary work. Oiling the chains. Getting a fresh coat of paint.

In summary–Keep the main thing, the main thing. Yup that’s what I’ve done. And I’m oh, so grateful.

Check out my other #Write31Days challenge entries here.

{Five-Minute Friday}-In Between

Linking up with Five-Minute Friday where the prompt is to write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. Here goes nothing…

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Smack-dab in the middle of it. That’s what us southern folks might call it. 1 year down. In the midst of the summer class. The change will affect his life much more than mine, but my futuristic mind has trouble allowing this career shift to just affect him.

In the pull and tension of full time work, night class, weekend clinicals–it’s this in between of what was and what is and what will be. What was a career that was unfulfilled. What is one of the craziest seasons of our life. What will be a life that calls for purpose and flexibility and meaning in career as well as opportunities to serve and love and give beyond what we’ve currently know.

But the in between is hard. Waiting. Listening. Being grateful for the tough times. Loving the day and listening to the meaning in it all.

And sometimes that meaning is just sitting with the reality of exhaustion and frustration, knowing that once the in between is over….

There’s always another in between on the horizon.

{Five-Minute Friday}-Thank You

Linking upwith Five-Minute Friday where the prompt is to write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. Here goes nothing…

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We wipe the sleepies out of our eyes. Alarm going off at 4am.  Not unlike any other day. Although today will bring many miles under our belt once again, stops for coffee, and $12 split into six-$2 dollar increments for tolls will find their way into the sun-glass holder in Frank Sonata.

Muffins are made.  Chicken for snacking goes into the car.  Gifts to Mom, a jacket for the 40 degree day back when we’ll return.

600 mile round-trip.  3 days.  We’ve made it in 2 before.  A hotel room awaits us as opposed to the pull out couch at my aunts.

You didn’t sign up for this.  This wasn’t in the arrangement so to speak.  Marriage is to be a flowery ideal for at least the first 2 years before things really start to get real.  We had about 6 blissful months.

But I wouldn’t change the last 3 years with all their challenges.  We’ve made memories to last a lifetime in just 3 short years.  Buying our first home with friends thinking we’d lost our mind.  Learning more about home renovation than we ever thought we’d need to know.  Laughing (even still) at the December days with out heat in our home when we’d gamble at when would be the best time to take a shower (after dinner out at our favorite little diner with a pot of hot coffee on the table was the definite winner).

You didn’t sign up for weeks in Virgina with my ailing mom.  Spending hours in hospital rooms and rehab facilities.  Deciding if a wheelchair would fit in the trunk of our car was probably not on your list of “requirements” for the first new car you’d ever buy.

But you did so. Do so. Without fail. Daily.

Thank You.

Smallies

Small Group

Pumpkin Patch 2009

We are so blessed to have such an amazing small group!  I’ve really been longing for more community–especially in Georgetown–and this definitely foots the bill.  It’s a great group of couples all married 5 years or less.  We have really had a great opportunity to get to know one another better over the last few months.  We’ve had a lot of fun studying some of the series Crossroads is going through, enjoying meals, celebrating, sharing heartache and serving others together.

Last night we finished up a marriage series that Crossroads did for three weeks back in September  (yes…we recognize that it’s now November).  Yes, it was ONLY a three week series, but with life and Lew and I tying the knot mixed in there, it just didn’t get finished until now.  It was a great study and was really good for all of us to ponder the questions posed.  The final question last night was “What can I do to improve our marriage?”  It really got me thinking a lot about two points I included in my vows I wrote to Lew…

  1. to figure out a way to have fun each day
  2. to consider each action with this thought–“How will this grow our marriage and our family?”

I do think about those most every day, but there are days I definitely fail.

We ended with a portion of 1 Corinthians 13 from the Message version.  In addition to having post-it’s of those two items above as reminders, we all agreed we needed this posted as well.  I pray that we can all take some time this weekend to think through this passage–married or not–and figure out how to love those in your life better.  This passage of scripture is so often quoted, but not nearly as often lived out.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

A few pics…

As you can see, I’ve made some updates to the blog and included a few wedding shots.  It’s been just over a month since Lew and I tied the knot.  Can you believe it?  Craziness.

Anyway,  I cannot say enough about our wonderful photographer, Melissa Cooper of M Photography.  Not only are our memories well documented from one of the most exciting days of our life, we had a photographer who was fun, laid back and easy.  This meant SO MUCH for us since we wanted the day to be just that.

Melissa has a holiday special she just announced today.  If you are in the Lexington, KY area and need new photos of your family I would HIGHLY recommend her!

To see some of Melissa’s Handiwork from our big day, enjoy these photos:

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