A Sunny Spot Amidst the Chaos

Man, this year has been a doozy. From a pandemic to social injustices to super vocal differing opinions about EVERYTHING, this world feels overwhelming and stressful. When my mom called and invited us to a week at the beach on a pretty low-key island in the middle of October, we said YES. Would we have to miss work and school? Who cares. We were ALL IN. So that’s exactly what we did a couple weeks ago and it was pretty much the best decision of all 2020.

This guy couldn’t have possibly been more excited about an early morning wake up call at the airport. We had two flights ahead of us but one included COUSINS!

We arrived in Panama City with 4 crazy kiddos and a whole bunch of luggage! There was a 2 hour car ride between us & the beach (and Nanan & Pops!).

We had arrived to our home for the week and all the rejoicing ensued! Just in time for some seafood for dinner. The travel may seem intense for little ones but believe me when I say that it was WORTH IT.

The next morning, we were up & ready for the beach!

Floppy hats were a must!
Safe to say everyone was a fan!
A lot of sand castles were made during this week!
It’s a Luke in a hole!

We took a break around lunch time to head back to the house to eat & rest. This became our routine everyday. Beach, lunch, rest, pool. Now that’s a schedule I love! Lounging around on our back deck was pretty much incredible too. I would happily just move in to that deck.

We had bikes for the week so an afternoon bike ride usually got fit in there too.

That evening, we decided to walk down the long pier on the bay side. Four small little ones walking down a pier with no railings is a bit ambitious but no one landed in the water so all was good.

We allowed them to take a picture at the very beginning where there was a railing. However, Luke was still required to stay in his stroller because homeboy is unpredictable.

The next day we did it all over again!

Can you spot a Lukey Bear & his daddy?

Back for lunch, rest, & then pool!

The pool view wasn’t too shabby either!

Don’t forget our bike ride! This one wasn’t quite as leisurely due to some wind but we powered through. Biking to town and back on an island just makes me feel like I’m straight in an Elin Hildebrand book.

We rested in the ginormous beach chair in town before heading back!

This guy also loved him the back deck too!

Day 3 began a little differently! The men left to go golf for Chris’ birthday while Ash & I went for some yoga at the beach. Grandparents for the win!

I love me some yoga but I REALLY love me some yoga with this view!

But don’t worry, we still made it to the beach with the crew!

Luke’s favorite activity was having someone fill his pails with water to then use it to fill up a bucket. Back & forth all day long.
Luke & his pails!
It’s important to make sure these ‘Colorado boys’ love the beach!

This was the calmest day on the water. It almost felt like a lake with how still it was which made for great paddle boarding!

Yay Pops for making it all happen!
How many kiddos can you fit on a paddle board?
We even got Mom out there!
Pops got in on the sandcastle action!

After resting, it was pool time! It’s funny how quick the kids learned the ‘new’ routine. If only life could be as easy as deciding between the pool and beach everyday.

Luke definitely thought being in a boat was hilarious!
This picture depicts their personalities nicely.
Do you spot his pails? His activity knew no bounds between the beach & the pool.

We decided to venture out into public for dinner that evening to celebrate Chris’ birthday! We even went off the island to the nearest town to hit up a restaurant there.

Shrimp & Grits served to me by a girl with a southern accent made me feel like home!
I finally got a picture with this stud!
My two favorite girls.
Nanan & Pops and all the little crazies!

Can you guess what we did on Friday?!

These two have been besties since day one!
I read all of the books & he ate all of the snacks. This is how we vacation.

Nick & I actually snuck in a bike ride on this day! At one point, I thought he was going to have to tow me back because of the wind but I’m happy to report that I did it all on my own.

Don’t let my smile fool ya.

Pool time was a little shorter that afternoon because we also had to get ready for family pictures on the beach.

Hey girl, how you doin’?

Family picture time! Can you hear all the kids groaning from there?! Ashley came armed with gummy bears to try and ‘encourage’ the children.

We are full of squinty eyes & love!
The whole fam!
My two little studs posing on the beach looking like little kid models.
Since Maddie is the only girl cousin, she gets to be in the big girl pic!
Behind the scenes with these crazy boys!
And all the children were rewarded nicely with J Rae’s cookies packed in a suitcase from Texas! Because my sister is awesome.

Saturday was our last full day and we were definitely feeling the sadness. I think God knew that we were going to need some help leaving, so he made it a little chilly and windy. This led us to start off with a walk instead, all decked out in tie dye. Because if you go to the beach and not wear tie dye, did you even go to the beach?

Some of us decided to ride more than walk..

It warmed up a bit and we made it to the beach!

Cheese puff hands + sand = only kids
I think all 5 of them were in their happy place!
Think they’ll still let us match them in high school?

We decided to explore the little town that afternoon, especially the lighthouse. When we were there two years ago, Dylan was too little to go up and I was too pregnant. Now he had made the cut and Luke watched from below!

We ate at a restaurant right on the water which is something I miss in Colorado! Seafood while staring at the ocean makes my heart so happy. If you’ve seen Facebook, our oldest even got bribed to try an oyster. He conquered so he’s now the proud owner of a new hot wheels track. I’m pretty sure he will never eat an oyster again, but I guess both boys got what they wanted.

D-Mac had nothing to do with the oysters!
…but this is who we really are!

And that’s it! If anyone has made it thru this massive trip recap besides my mom, job well done! We got up the next morning and made the road trip and two flights home back to reality. And this is how I felt about it…

This is how the boys handled it…

And yes, this does mean that I was across the aisle in a row all. by. myself.

This trip really was the brightest spot of this whole year. A whole week dedicated to rest and fun, without having to worry about any single thing. Obviously that’s what is always so great about a vacation, but it felt like an actual gift during this crazy year. So thank you to Nanan & Pops and thank you to the precious Saint George Island!

Caleb is SIX!

Just like that, our first baby went and turned 6! Who does he think he is getting so old that he has to use BOTH hands to show his age?! This kid has had such a huge year. He started kindergarten, he’s handled a pandemic like a champ, and he chose to follow Christ! We are SO proud of him and thankful that God chose us to be his parents.

If you know me, you know we love to celebrate us some birthdays! And I’ve raised Caleb the right way in expecting the same thing. (But don’t worry – he loves to celebrate anyone else’s birthday just as big!) Ever since Caleb turned one, we always start with balloons in the bed as he wakes up. It is always a fun way to start the day!

Now we have a little helper to assist us with the celebration!

We decided to let him open gifts from us before school to add some excitement. The pizza was from us and the ROAR dinosaur was from the little bro.

Safe to say he was pumped! He was a little confused on why he was required to go to school on his birthday. His teacher has the same birthday as him so that made it a little more fun! And sure enough, he got celebrated big at school too!

It made it even more fun that Mimi & G-Daddy were in town for his birthday! He was excited that they got to pick him up from school too. (And check out that crown – he was obviously the birthday king for the day!)

JoJo came over after school so the rest of the day consisted of presents from grandparents and a special dinner at a restaurant of his choosing. Old Chicago was the pick! The kid loves him some pizza but he went and ordered the largest mac & cheese he could find. He’s no fool – he knows we don’t ever let him order mac & cheese as an entree so he took full advantage of pulling the birthday card!

He was sad for the day to end but he was looking forward to Saturday – Birthday Party Day!! He invited some best buddies to come play with him at a playground & celebrate Pokémon style! (The kid loves a theme – Pokémon is his backpack, his birthday, & spoiler alert – his Halloween costume!)

It was a fun time of just letting the kids play at the park! Nick kept me from planning out activities & games the entire time and instead just let kids be kids. Apparently all they really do need is a playground.

Well I guess I should say all they need is a playground… and cake and presents!!

This kid felt super loved and had a blast! Times are weird so it was nice to have a normal, low-key birthday party for him.

Although we didn’t remember at the park, we were able to get some family pics when we got home!

It sure does feel just like yesterday when we were celebrating his first birthday in Texas (right before we moved!).

We sure have come a long way! Now we have a sweet, caring, routine-loving, chatty, silly, extroverted, Pokémon-crazy 6 year old. Sometimes being a mom can drive me all the way up the wall or straight off a cliff, but this little boy can say the most thoughtful things that brings me straight back and makes it all worth it. During his prayer the night of his birthday, he thanked God for such an amazing birthday and prayed that his little brother would have an awesome birthday in two months. So all that to say, it really is such a gift to be his mom and he is definitely worth celebrating!

Here’s to six years of Caleb & to MANY, MANY more!

A Little Life Lately

Welp, life is a bit busy again! Having six months ‘off’ from all the things sure does make it a shock to the system to return to routine. It’s so interesting how hard it was to adjust to having NOTHING on the calendar when the world shut down in March. We grieved all the things that were cancelled, but somewhere along the way, we adjusted to our new normal. And now here we are… adding things back to our calendar with obligations requiring our attendance… and it all feels a bit bittersweet. Things may not look exactly how they used to but we are making the best of it!

We officially have a football player! And his team is even the Broncos! He’s now played t-ball, soccer, basketball.. and now he’s giving football a shot. If you ask him his favorite, he would absolutely choose all of them. It helps that he’s played with his best buddy on every single team.

NFL is also back!!! Can you hear the excitement from all the Jones boys?! Luke’s brainwashing seems to be going well and has joined in the festivities. We just won’t talk about all the Broncos players that are injured (this is me warning you to not bring that up to a certain husband of mine).

We have been loving outdoor services at church! It’s so great to gather together again as a church family. It may not be what we are used to, but I do love it after months of only online!

My mom & stepdad came into town for another weekend and we had a quick little getaway to Breck again! Perfect timing with all the changing of the colors. Fall in Colorado is THE. BEST.

A certain somebody loves ANYTHING of his older brother’s. He has now discovered Caleb’s house shoes and absolutely cracks up as he walks around in them.

Walking Caleb to school has been such a blessing! The fact that we basically just walk around the corner to his school is so fun. We also drive by his school anytime we leave our house so I’ve totally seen him outside playing! That makes this mama heart happy since he’s in a brand new school.

Nick preached this weekend which led to a funny moment where these two boys totally matched for the filming. They were clearly feeling all the fall vibes.

With daddy back at work multiple evenings a week, we are making the best of it with these boys kicking me out of the chair while we do bedtime. It helps that they’re cute.

Picture Day already happened for this handsome boy!

Now we are gearing up for this kid to turn 6 this week!

And there it is, a little life lately for our fam!

The 5 Year Coloradoversary

I can’t believe it. We have lived in Colorado for five years now. Sometimes it feels like way longer and sometimes it still surprises me that I don’t live in Texas. But here we are, five years in. As I was reflecting on all the things, I remembered that I wrote a blog post right when we moved here so I had to take a look (and you can too if you want!). It made me smile to think of that girl entering this brand new world and chapter, not having any idea what to expect. I was definitely gun shy on this whole idea of moving my little family to a different state serving a church family that I had just met. It was a whole new element of trusting God in a big way. Something funny about being a ‘transplant’ is that we still get asked often if we plan on staying. If this is what we would consider our forever home. If we love it. If we miss Texas. So why not just answer all of that here?! Plus it only felt right to commemorate this 5 year Coloradoversary with all the words that I feel about this state, this move, our life here.

Here we are, arriving at a house we had never even seen! Straight rented it off Craigslist praying it would be fine. Our movers didn’t show up for days later without feeling the need to tell us or give us any kind of ETA. So clearly that all felt like a really great start. However, the house ended up being a sweet little beginner house for us in Colorado! (If you haven’t heard, Texas and Colorado aren’t quite the same in the house pricing department. Like at all.) Caleb was not even a year old yet so it was quite the feat to move and get unpacked without knowing anyone!

Moving to Colorado in fall is a HUGE bonus. It’s like I showed up in a movie with the changing of seasons and colors. Never thought that was an actual thing before. And then the snow. It was all so fun!

When we moved here, my heart was in a place of healing and also expectancy for what God had in store. I hoped so hard that God’s faithfulness would show up in a mighty way through this new church and our new ministry here. And I can honestly say it did! We were embraced and welcomed immediately and I even mention in that 5 year old blog post, it naturally felt like home. Which is exactly what our hearts needed.

We flew out to Colorado for Nick’s interview in August and moved out in September. At his interview, I was so nervous about whether this would be a good move for us. With our history, I didn’t want to miss ANYTHING during the interview. I kept wracking my brain for any and all questions to ask. But through it all, God just kept putting my heart at peace. The last day we were here, one of the staff wives sat on the church floor with me (because I had a 10 month old crawling machine) and shared all about what it looked like to be on staff and a pastor’s wife at this church. It was unprovoked and the most encouraging thing to me at that time. God totally knew I needed that. And like they say, the rest is history.

The hardest part about moving was leaving behind my entire family and my amazing friends. My sister and I had both just had a baby and only lived like two miles from each other. Talk about hard to leave. The moment Nick accepted the position, we began praying for this next chapter and specifically for a great community for our family. I was so intentional with putting myself out there the entire first year we lived here. I never turned down an offer to hang out and constantly showed up alone to events nervously hopeful. It certainly was not easy and probably the most difficult part is how much time it took. Good friendships don’t just happen over night and I felt years behind in all of the friendships around me. But here we are, five years later, surrounded by a fantastic community that we love and love us right back.

So will we stay? The planner in me wishes it was that easy! Do we hope to stay? Absolutely. We have fallen in love with our church, our town, our state (Nick had a head start in this department!). Everything in me hopes this is our forever place. But the tricky thing is it’s not quite up to us, is it? We serve a sovereign God that has a plan for our life that we want to always follow. If you would have asked me eight years ago, I would have said that I wanted my forever home to be Texas. So obviously we stay open-handed to God’s will, but our desire would be for Colorado to stay our home!

Do I miss Texas? You better believe it! I yearn for the coast during the summer months. My heart hurts anytime I miss out on something because of distance. I hate that friends and family can’t be just a quick weekend road trip. I miss the sweet tea, GOOD Mexican food, southern accents and all the things I didn’t even realize were ‘southern’ until I moved here. Texas will ALWAYS have my heart.

It’s safe to say I love our life here. Our new house that God blessed us to buy in a great neighborhood with friendly neighbors (not always a guarantee!). Our boys growing up in a gorgeous environment with mountains surrounding us. The opportunity to spend so much time in God’s glory that is the outdoors here. (Sorry Texas, not much compares to the mountains here.) The people that we get to live life with daily. The church where we are both able to serve on staff together. This is home.

A running joke in our fam is that Caleb & I are Team Texas and Nick & Luke are Team Colorado since that’s where we were all born. We often split up in ‘teams’ for any contest or competition that is happening. I’m sure Nick wishes that Luke would get a little older to help him out a little because Team Texas is blowing them out of the water.

So there it is, folks! A bit of an update and celebration of 5 years in Colorado. God is faithful. His ways are FAR greater than ours.

All About Caleb: Off to Kindergarten!

Well if this isn’t just the weirdest year ever for your oldest child to be entering kindergarten! Talk about quite the introduction to the whole school thing. Yet, here we are! Caleb has 3 years of preschool under his belt and ready to take on kinder… with a mask!

Our school district started in August with everyone doing remote learning for the first two weeks. Issuing my 5 year old a chrome book feels pretty interesting but hey, this is the world we are living in! Even though the year was starting unusually, we still wanted to celebrate him big and make it exciting! We started a tradition last year of having a back to school brinner {breakfast for dinner!} to chat about the upcoming school year and pray over all the things. (I owe this idea all to Andrea at Momfessionals Blog!) Last year, JoJo joined us and this year my mom was in town so she was able to be apart of the special dinner as well.

The whole dining room is decorated with back to school decor (including school folder place settings for everyone). The menu is all breakfast: cinnamon rolls, sausage balls, quiche, fruit kabobs, & juice. All things Caleb loves!

What’s a special dinner without a few little gifts? And of course grandparents never show up empty handed. He got two books about starting school, a kindergarten workbook, and his own pencil bag with supplies for home (all ready for remote!).

I always set up his backpack in the corner since that is always so exciting to a kiddo! The backpack & lunchbox he chose this year was ALL Pokémon. So looks like those strange creatures will be joining him in kindergarten this year.

It was so special to be able to have both JoJo and Nanan there for his special brinner!

Another perk – getting to eat off the special plate! We had this same plate growing up and it’s so fun to be able to continue the tradition with our kiddos. It’s always exciting when the red plate comes out!

A benefit of having your school right in your backyard is walking over and giving your grandmas a tour! After dinner, we walked the school & Caleb was able to point out where his classroom and all the things are located.

Our family is so excited for our biggest guy! This kid loves to learn and be around people so we know that he will do great things.

We set up his remote learning station for him so he would be all ready to go Monday morning! Our verse for him this year is Joshua 1:9 because our prayer is that he would be strong and courageous. We know that God is going to do big things in his life this year!

A first day of virtual school means no shoes required! I am very thankful of the way his school and teacher handled remote learning for these kindies. It was all very minimal and fun and he even went into the school twice.

Here he is, being dropped off at orientation! He was able to go in with two other kiddos for an hour. This is kindergarten in 2020 y’all – masks and symptom screening!

The next time was for his assessment where he went in for 30 minutes with just him & his teacher! The parents were able to come in for the last 5 minutes so we could actually see where our kiddo is going to be for the next 9 months. I’m happy to report that it just looks like a regular classroom – there’s no plexiglass! (The kids are spaced out at their seats but it doesn’t seem odd.)

He rocked the whole zoom thing but this kid much prefers some face to face interaction!

I also certainly never thought I would be sending my kindergartener to his first day of school in pants and a jacket expecting a snow storm. But it’s 2020, y’all. Where craziness and the unexpected just keep on showing up. It was also Green Day which is this kid’s favorite color and he happened to have green pants that fit (when many others did not).

And there goes a piece of my heart just walking right into school!!

Since he started preschool at 2 years old, I’ve always asked him the same variation of questions so that way we could compare year to year!

What is your favorite color? Green

What is your favorite food? Pizza

Who is your best friend? Brooks & Maddie & Dylan & Hava

What is your favorite thing to play with? Luke

What is your favorite animal? Lion – the king!

What is your favorite movie? Wall-E

What is your favorite book? Why? (That is actually the name of the book – ha!)

What do you want to be when you grow up? A chef!

For the most part, this kid has kept similar answers for years! The whole chef thing is newer since he does love to watch him some Diners, Drive-In’s, & Dives with his dad. Here are past years answers to compare (& see how little he was!)…

JR Kindergarten

3 Year Old Class

2 Year old Class

So there he goes, off to conquer the land of kindergarten! I do want to acknowledge the fact that this decision was hard this year. Our plan was to always send him to this school but throw in a pandemic and things obviously got a little wonky. We prayed hard for what was best for our little guy and we feel like this is it! No matter if it makes me feel sad that I don’t get to walk him all the way in or that his kindergarten year includes masks, I know that God is in control. And where I can’t enter, God is always with him. He is holding him close and walking with him through this whole year. Thankful for a God that that loves our little guy even more than we do.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

The Summer of 2020

Well here we are… already at the end of the summer and still smack dab in the middle of a pandemic! Remember back in February when none of this was our reality? Me either because that feels like a lifetime ago. Or remember back to March when we kept saying that if we all behaved then this would all be gone by the summer but then maybe we would have another wave come fall? Yup, we were all so naive. Life was different, but we still attempted to make the best of our summer!

Ever since Nick and I have been married, our summers have been FULL of student ministry and kids ministry events. FULL. We spent our first month married at student camp and our second month married in Cambodia on a mission trip. It’s just kind of how we roll. ENTER 2020. All of that was cancelled. Sure, we were able to do ministry in creative, small-scale ways. But there was no full program VBS, no student camp in the mountains, no mission trip to Poland (that our whole fam was going to go on this year). So it’s probably been the first summer that our whole family has just been together all summer long so we made the best of it during these strange times!

We headed to Texas in May to ‘quarantine’ there for a week. We figured we could have the cousins play while all the grown-ups worked remotely. It was a pretty good reprieve from the walls of our own home!

We added a new family member… Bronco Jones. Our first addition didn’t make it but thankfully Bronco seems to be beating the odds.

We redid our whole patio since that was our ‘vacation’ spot for 2020. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Can’t seem to find a waiter yet to serve us here but it works!

We spent a lot of time OUTSIDE. Parks, splash pads, sprinkler time, walks, hikes, creeks, basically anything we could think of. Having two little boys equals having lots of energy that needs to be worn out.

I felt super loved on my birthday! It just so happened that our Kids Ministry had a drive thru festival type event so I ended up getting to see LOTS of faces. So good for my heart to see people I hadn’t seen in so long… and it certainly was sweet the amount of people that went above & beyond to make me feel special!

We had lots of birthday celebrations with a group of friends over the summer! June birthdays, July birthdays, August birthdays.. we love us a party!

Our big guy learned to swim this summer so we definitely tried to spend as much time at a pool as possible! And I gotta say… I can get on board with this whole reservations at a pool thing when it comes to not having to swim with a million strangers.

A lot of the big July 4th celebrations were cancelled this year but that definitely made people step up their fireworks game in basically every neighbor everywhere. We pretty much hung out and watched fireworks happen all. around. us. People weren’t playing around this year! I guess lock people up long enough and they’re willing to blow anything up.

Since our fam wasn’t able to go to Poland this year (all the tears), we have amazing friends that totally planned an entire day of camp in Poland for us. We followed the whole schedule & I’m pretty sure it was good for Nick’s heart. This was the first time in 5 years that he wasn’t going and he was definitely bummed. Caleb was a BIG fan too!

Speaking of missing out on things we love, our summer definitely was lacking from not getting to put on VBS. However, our church did a VBS TO GO and it had to have been the next best thing! A group of us did it together in our backyards and it was so sweet getting to be part of it on such a minimal scale. I love that our kids get to learn about Jesus as they grow up together so this was so fun to pour in to them this way! Silver linings of this whole COVID chaos.

By the end of the summer, we even started venturing out to ‘public’ with masks in tow. Our extroverted kid would much rather do the thing with a mask on than not do the thing at all.

Our annual family trip to Breckenridge was still able to happen too! And this year it seemed extra awesome getting out of town for a couple days. The mountains, my boys, it was a good time. We even found the troll this year! (And by found, I mean actually looked for it.)

My mom & stepdad were supposed to come visit in April so of course that trip ended up being a casualty of the lockdown. They were able to reschedule to the end of August and it was so good to see family! They hadn’t been here since Luke was born so it was so fun to have them back in Colorado.

As the summer is wrapping up, one of the best things happened and our church is starting to have outdoor services! Meeting together as a church family has been SO missed so it’s been so incredible to be back together in this creative way.

Well there you have it… the summer of 2020 according to the Jones fam! It was a different kind of summer and it may have felt hard at times, but the great definitely outweighed the negative. There’s a lot in the world right now that feels heavy and divisive but I am choosing JOY every day. God is not surprised by any of these things. It’s definitely in my own nature to want to try to control, but I am continuing to learn to trust in His faithfulness every single day.

A Quarantined Day in the Life

Well here we are, week 18452 of quarantine! Can you even believe it?! These are such strange times that I decided it needed documentation of a day in the life. I’ve done these in the past but those obviously included going places and doing things. This one… is obviously a little different. I also don’t think I’ve done one of these since Luke was born so it was way overdue because he has been here for a while after all.

Here are past ones to compare…

December 2017

March 2017

April 2016

I decided to document this past Sunday because clearly our Sundays look way different now. Not going into a church building on a Sunday morning is probably one of the most foreign experiences of this whole time. Here we go…

It may be quarantine days but that doesn’t mean sleeping in for me. I still try to get up before the kiddos because that means a happier mama for everyone. I took a shower and then headed to the most important place…

Coffee time. In a quiet house. It’s heavenly.

I had been reading Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen with a group of gals before the world shut down. I only have a couple chapters left so I got a chapter in before the fam woke up. The chapter was all about being grateful so it basically couldn’t have come at a better time. (If you need a book to read, this one is PERFECT for pandemic times.)

Look who woke up and joined me! And he’s got that quarantine hair coming in thick. He was a little emotional about not being in a wedding that happened at the very beginning of the shut down. It was kind of out of nowhere since we dealt with that weeks ago. But adults definitely aren’t the only ones feeling all the feelings all the time.

I headed upstairs to get dressed and ran into this guy.

His favorite word right now is DADA! so it was easy to say good morning and keep on walking while Nick got him up. He LOVES his dada right now… follows him around, shouts his name incessantly, loses it when Nick leaves, and shouts Dada! at the windows while he’s gone. It’s good times.

I went ahead and got all dressed before Nick left for the church. For the month of April, he went into the church building to ‘host’ the 8:45 service online. After he left, I got the boys dressed.

Caleb is now making his bed everyday as part of his quarantine score sheet. Welcome to the struggle of getting chores done with a one year old in tow.

Sometimes a 5 year old uses a different technique than I would use but at the end of the day, a made bed is a made bed. (Which is what I tell myself as I walk away resisting the urge to ‘fix’ it.)

Time for cup number two. And this time with a friend.

This was about the time that he remembered that he would be very interested in…

Second breakfast! He asks to not be judged please. He is working on his COVID-19.

While he ate again, I updated Caleb’s score to add in his made the bed points. Each 100 points equals $10. We’ve been doing this since day one of quarantine so not so bad!

I also did all of the fun things like empty the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, throw out my flowers that died. Just living the dream.

Caleb finished his morning show during this time of none other than Dude Perfect! It’s pretty much become his obsession lately which has led to all of his own trick shot videos.

The little guy and I headed to the playroom (with coffee in hand). He played while I caught up on Marco Polo’s (which pretty much is the go-to communication of these strange days). We did this until it was time for…

Church! While listening to worship on my phone, I had a couple of guys that wanted to join in…

Then it was time to put someone down for a nap (sadly not me).

Caleb decided it was time for a snack (because apparently we have 1200 of those a day while locked in our house)…

He ate while I worked on a sign for a little drive by surprise we would be doing later. It’s definitely an interesting time to have a baby but we got to be apart of loving on a family from a distance!

After Nick got home and Luke woke up, it was time for the surprise parade! I do feel like this has been one of the most creative things that have come from this time and I’ve absolutely loved participating in a couple. If we can’t gather for a party, I love that we can at least do a parade!

The sweet family stood on the front stoop while we all drove by and dropped goodies off on their driveway one by one. It was so fun! I think all the women totally teared up as we drove away because it’s just so good to see people we love right now.

Time for grocery pick-up! This has been a service I’ve used for years but obviously it’s become a little different in these times. Our pick-up was delayed, we could barely find a parking spot, and there’s always items out of stock. We sure don’t get upset though because we know the workers are working like crazy!

Plus, where else do we have to be these days?!

After we got our groceries, we head home to unload and feed the hungry boys. I added a deli party tray to our order for a quick Sunday lunch. Perfection!

The boys headed outside while I folded a load of laundry.

I am a person of routine to the core. Well this virus has rocked that completely. I am slowly creating a new normal/routine during these times which includes laundry. Mondays have always been my laundry days when I wash EVERYTHING and put it all away. All on Monday. Well now Mondays are full work days for me so that’s become impossible. I am now doing two loads on Sunday and two loads on Monday. (I know that you all find this information THRILLING.)

I headed outside to join the boys after I put that load away. Nick had been working on a project to extend our patio and had just finished it up.

We ordered a new patio table so we posted our old one on Facebook for someone to pick up for free. It was gone in 30 minutes which totally cleared off our patio!

Except for all the kiddo stuff and dirt it left behind of course.

And look at that… time for someone to take a nap again (still not me)…

I headed back outside to help them finish off the project. We decided to put all the extra gravel in a flower bed for the boys to have a digging spot. They have their own spot to play which will keep them from digging in the new area. Win win!

There’s someone that loves to help their daddy with yard work. We finished with the yard just in time for Luke to wake up from his nap. It’s amazing how much you can get done when we aren’t chasing him around!

A smoothie seemed like a great afternoon snack! The only problem is that Luke is basically scared of any loud noises… the blender, the blow dryer, the vacuum. He hates it all.

Yup. He just stares at me in sheer terror crying the entire time. But he quickly forgave me (I think)…

We decided it was a great time to watch our Big God Story since we had a captive audience.

Not pictured: both boys dancing along to the songs. We have enjoyed kids church at home as much as can be expected!

We decided it was a great time for a walk to our neighborhood school! Although we can’t play on the equipment, Caleb can ride his new 4-wheeler in the parking lot (yay for a surprise hand me down from friends!) and Luke can just run around. Because let’s be honest, any place that’s not our house right now is exciting.

After lots of playing and riding, we headed back home for dinner. Does anyone else feel like they’re cooking a million times more than usual? In reality, I’m cooking the same amount because we used to eat out once a week which has translated to take-out once a week. But for some reason, I feel like quarantine has added 12 million extra home-cooked meals. One of the strange mysteries of this pandemic.

After dinner, Nick and Caleb decided to enjoy year old ice cream drumsticks from the freezer. Totally grossed me out but I guess that’s one way to clean out the freezer. (And nobody puked so I guess that’s a win too.)

Our family room often looks like boys running around, throwing balls, wrestling, basically all the boy things. This day was no different.

Nick headed outside to water his precious lawn (have I mentioned that he’s obsessed with the yard yet?) so we headed to the playroom. This was mainly a mode of distraction for the little one since he is obsessed with DADA!

That worked for a little while since big brother encouraged them to wave and watch DADA!…

Until THIS happened.

Let’s just say that Caleb joining DADA! outside while he was locked inside did not go over well. I intervened and thankfully we made it through. Just a side note (and I’m of course not bitter at all) that Luke DOES know how to say Mama. But he only says it while he’s in distress. Basically if he’s hurt or crying, he cries ‘mamamamamama.’ But he has never said MAMA! out of excitement or glee. It’s fine, totally fine. Good for DADA!

We picked up that crazy play room and then it was time for bed…

Our whole family prays together when we do Lukey Bear’s bedtime and then lately Nick has been the one to put him down. (We don’t need to bring up the reason why again…)

Caleb and I head to his room to set up game time! One of the new things we have started since we’ve been stuck at home is a game with Caleb after Luke goes to bed. This was never really a thing before because sometimes either Nick or I were gone in the evenings. This has been probably one of my favorite things we’ve done during life shutdown.

Caleb is weirdly good at matching. Like maybe I should look up some contest to enter him in to make some extra cash good.

After he goes to bed, we head downstairs because we actually have plans! I grab my dessert…

Peanut butter m&ms. Every. Single. Night.

Family zoom game night! This has become our thing every Sunday night after the kiddos are in bed. It’s been pretty much hilarious and the best. Who knew Zoom would become such a huge part of our lives?!

After way past my bedtime, I set up my coffee machine for the next morning. My keurig is the first thing I see and the last thing I see everyday so does this make us best friends? Probably.

I head upstairs, get ready for bed, and pretty much pass out.

If anyone is still reading, there you have it! A quarantined day in the life of the Jones fam. The days feel LONG right now but we are thankful for new & creative ways to make our life fun right now! Who knows how long all of this will last but we are trying to make the best of it while it is happening. I’m sure it will be a time we look back on forever!

Our Quarantined Life Lately!

So here we are… right smack-dab in the middle of a pandemic. Isn’t it so surreal? We are in week four or five already (who even really knows at this point) and I still have moments of disbelief. If someone would have told us a few months ago that this would be our reality, there’s no way we would have believed it! It’s made me realize just how much we feel untouchable or invincible as Americans in the year 2020. But yet, here we are. I’m not here to give grim reports or discuss how overwhelming and anxious it can make us all feel. At least not today. Today is just a little update of how the Jones fam is living in this new normal. Because let’s be honest, we are totally going to look back on this time for years to come.

We have spent SO much time outside when the weather is nice. Playing, chalk art, yard projects, all the things. So stay away, snow!! The backyard is all we’ve got. (As I type this, it is currently snowing outside. BOOOOO.)

Someone has been making their bed everyday! When Nick created the Quarantine Quontest for the youth group, we created one of sorts for Caleb too. It’s basically a behavior and chore chart all rolled in one with points involved. It is a game changer during this time! Bed made – check! 7 points! (And a smiling mama.)

Working from home with two little people is by far the most challenging of this whole thing. Well I guess besides the unknown and the not seeing people and the stuck at home part. So I guess it’s ONE of the most challenging things. We have gotten in a little bit better groove as the weeks have gone on, but I don’t think it’ll ever be a thing we master. A one year old as a co-worker is a demanding thing, y’all. (And a bit nosey too, if you ask me.)

These guys aren’t missing out on the calls to talk to their people either! Between portal calls with the cousins & grandparents, FaceTime with buddies, and zoom calls with his preschool class, they are staying well connected. So thankful for technology during this strange time! (A zoom call with 14 preschoolers is probably one of the most entertaining things ever. And their teacher handles it like a CHAMP.)

Have I mentioned all of the outside time?? Walks, nature scavenger hunts, baseball, trick shots, dinner… anything outside! We are pretty sure Luke would live outside if we would let him. He just plays and wanders around in the backyard without a care in the world. Caleb had to see the closed playground to legit believe us because he just couldn’t believe that would be a thing. Welcome to our shocking reality, buddy. 😦

And like all of the things, church is now online! I’m seriously so impressed by our church that managed to switch from normal church to virtual in under 48 hours. It’s been such a learning curve for all of us on staff, but it’s been so awesome to see God working through a time like this! He’s still here, folks. He is not surprised. He has not left us. And he is working big time! As much as I dislike not being able to gather together in our church building, I still love being able to engage in this way with my family. It sure has led to some incredible conversations with Caleb!

Surprise drop-offs sure are the highlights of this quarantine!! I’ve never been so excited to see things unexpectedly sitting on our porch or placed in our yard (and mail too!). It’s the little things, y’all. I’m thankful to have people that show up in times like this.

People keep saying that we will remember this time forever. That our kids will remember this. How will we choose to use it? As difficult it has been, it’s also been full of sweet time with my family so I definitely consider myself grateful.

The most amazing news that has happened during this time is Caleb made a HUGE decision! He decided to make Jesus his friend forever (all his words). Nick and I both were able to be apart of the conversation since we were home which was so special. This is something he’s talked about for a long time, but we have always wanted to make sure he truly grasped his decision. After a really sweet conversation where we knew he understood and a precious prayer, I think I truly experienced one of the best mom moments I’ve ever had.

So there’s a little life lately that’s happening in our fam! I hope that your families have been able to find joy in the chaos. Choosing faith over fear has been huge for me! Also, allowing myself grace and giving tons of grace to others has been so important. We serve a big God that is in control!

The Caleb Quotes: Volume III

We have had a week over here, y’all! Between runny noses, coughs, a fever, a migraine, our house has been disinfected and lysoled to the moon and back. So to distract myself from all that business, I’ve decided that it’s another time for quotes by Caleb! One of the best parts of this age is when Caleb says funny, cute things. Mamas of older kiddos are constantly telling me to document the adorableness so this series was born and here we are on the 3rd installment. Feel free to walk down memory lane with Volume I and Volume II of crazy things Caleb has said!

One day when Nick was doing yard work in the backyard, Caleb was watching him through the window.

Caleb: Good job Dad!

Me: He’s our hero, isn’t he?

Caleb: About the grass he is. And you’re the hero about VBS and getting work done. And I’m the hero of cleaning everything up.

Hmm, we must have differing definitions of cleaning everything up.

I do love being a boy mom because {usually} the boys love to dote on me.

Caleb: Oh Mommy, you are just sooooo cute!!!! So so so so so so so cute!

To Luke: That’s how you talk to pretty girls.

Oh man, I am bracing myself for those teenage years. I may have a charmer on my hands.

One of Caleb’s love languages is eating out at a restaurant. The kid loves it and one of his favorites is The 49th (which is an Alaskan restaurant so clearly he’s got sophisticated taste). As we were leaving dinner there one night, he said…

Caleb: Perfect timing to leave because my tummy kinda hurts!

Welcome to too much of a good thing, kid.

Caleb and Luke’s relationship really has been one of the greatest parts of adding a kiddo to our family. We are so grateful for how much Caleb loves Luke and the feeling is definitely mutual. It’s pretty common to catch Caleb saying really sweet things to Luke.

Caleb (kissing Luke on the head): Night night, my little sidekick.

I know we are entering the days of sibling rivalry but for now, we will enjoy all of the sweetness of the bromance.

Another time we were out at a restaurant and Caleb pointed over to a group of elderly women.

Caleb: Dad, look at that table full of grandmas!

He then went on to list who he thought would fit in at that table but we won’t get him in trouble sharing all that. 😁

For Nick’s birthday, a bunch of his students bought him Chacos. Caleb was a little confused.

Caleb: Dad, why are you wearing your water shoes? You’re not going to a pond.

Clearly he’s not up on the whole Chaco trend. There’s no Chaco tan lines for him to show off.

During the fall, Caleb had soccer practice right before Awana (because apparently I like to pack as many things possible in one day). He got a donut at practice and then it was time to eat dinner before Awana.

Me: You have to at least eat some meat so your tummy will feel okay.

Caleb: And so I don’t get hungry at Awana?

Me: Yes, for sure.

Caleb: Because everyone would be like Caleb why are you hungry?! Didn’t you eat dinner??

Me: Yup… they’d be like who is your mom?!

Caleb: Yeah! Isn’t your mom Raven? She does everything right!

Me: I do?

Caleb: Don’t you?

Good to know I’m at least I’m fooling one person!

Over Thanksgiving break, we visited my mom’s work when we were in Texas. Keep in mind, she’s a mortgage loan officer. That works in a normal office. When we got in the car…

Caleb: That was a weird church.

All of us: Huh??

It took us a couple minutes but we finally figured out that Caleb thought everyone works at a church since Nick and I both do. It pretty much blew his mind to figure out that people work other places. He still doesn’t quite understand why they all keep showing up at mine & Nick’s work then on Sundays. Ha! Baby steps.

Caleb was the one with the fever this week and thankfully it seems that he’s finally fever-free. But we chatted a lot about what’s considered a regular temperature and what isn’t. We were all praying at bedtime.

Nick: We just continue to pray that Caleb would be 100%.

Caleb: Wait, what? Why do you want my temperature to be 100 again?

Nick: Oh. No. That you feel 100%. Yeah, I see how that’s confusing.

Poor guy thought his dad was praying for him to still be sick.

Both Caleb and Luke keep me on my toes these days. As tired as I may be and as appealing as it sounds to go to a hotel to sleep for 24 hours, I sure am thankful to be their mama.

Road Trippin’ Right Into 2020!

Happy 2020, y’all! It’s that time of year when everyone likes to make goals, set new resolutions, basically get a fresh start. Nick and I did something new this year (thanks to a million hour road trip!) by filling out Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide. It’s an outline of different aspects of your life and prompts you to reflect on growth in your life from this past year and then asks any dreams/goals you have for this coming year. It was a really fun way to chat about all the things together and really look forward to the new year! (Just visit her website to check it out if you’re interested in that kind of thing.) With my sweet baby just turning one, his first year of life is what really sums up my 2019. So now that we are coming out of that season, I feel like I’m able to get back to some of the more regular rhythms of my life (like this blog!). I’m an enneagram 9 (with 2 being a very close second) so I tend to focus on others and their needs far more than my own. Throw in a brand new baby and obviously my priorities are WAY different. I’ve loved this past year but I’m also excited to see what 2020 has in store! I would love to hear what resolutions/goals/dreams any of you have for the upcoming year!!

Before I totally move on to this new year, I want to give a quick snippet of that million hour road trip.

We headed to Texas! And the boys actually did remarkable in the car for the two day trip. And no, Lukey Bear did not ride in my lap even though he would have absolutely preferred that.

He hammed it up at every stop we took, basically making friends with every restaurant where we ate. It’s so unfortunate that he’s not a happy child.

We made it to Houston and we all still loved each other! Success!

The next morning, we had a family birthday party for our two December babies. Dylan was our Batman and Luke was our Robin!

The rest of us were merely background superheroes.

We decided that it was probably a very confusing party for Luke because everyone kept calling him Robin. I’m sure babies think we are all so weird.

The next day we headed to Galveston with Mimi and G-Daddy to hang out overnight in some of our favorite island spots. We headed to the Strand and the kids got candy at La King’s Confectionary. What’s better than kids in a candy shop? Kids in a candy shop where they throw free candy at you!

We ate at The Spot where Luke pretty much ate most of my shrimp. With a view of the ocean (and the big kids sitting at their own table), it was hard to get mad.

We then headed to the Festival of Lights along with the rest of the island. The littles could have done without it (because bedtime), but the big kids loved it.

The next morning, we rose to a beautiful sunrise. I sure do love living near the gorgeous mountains, but the ocean will forever have my heart.

We drove by the house where my dad grew up and totally kooked out the owners by taking pictures on the front steps. (Kidding, we did introduce ourselves.)

It was a fun little night in Galveston!! I often go back to Texas but never really to where I actually grew up so I loved that we were able to do that on this trip. And memories are made when 10 people squish into a hotel room to open Christmas presents, amiright?!

The next day was Christmas Eve and our kiddos were ready! Caleb and Maddie attended their first Christmas Eve service and managed to not burn themselves! Well pretty much anyway. Our family also had a dress attire theme if you can’t tell…

We then partied with the whole family that evening! We certainly missed Nana but it was so sweet to all celebrate together. These poor kids did not have fun at all.

Our dress theme continued to the pajama portion of the evening with buffalo check jams as well! We were clearly made for some kind of Old Navy commercial… except that we clearly can’t take anything serious.

Christmas morning came and the kiddos were ecstatic!!! Ensue all chaos here.

We put on more festive gear before we headed north for the next portion of our trip.

We spent Christmas Day with JoJo and JJ and apparently this was the portion of the trip where I quit taking photos for days. I would like to say that it’s because I intentionally chose to unplug and be in the present. However, I do believe it was more of a result of exhaustion and hours in the car with small children. Either way, no documentation.

We spent the next few days at my sister’s family’s house and Caleb and Luke had LOTS of cousin time. Even though we have added Dylan and Luke to the mix, the best friendship between the two bigs still runs deep. I’m pretty sure at one point Maddie was about to trade in Dylan for Caleb. Ahh, being a little brother.

The last night we were in town, it was date night at Billy Bob’s for the Aaron Watson concert! We put on our boots and were ready to head over for some Mexican food and then head to the world’s biggest honky-tonk. Fort Worth is the city that Nick and I met, fell in love, & got married. It will forever have our heart and I loved spending a few hours there. We need to make a trip just to Fort Worth to see all the people that we love and miss!

It was a fun date night with my sis & bro-in-law and cousin & cousin-in-law (is that a thing?!). It’s not often that we get to hang out sans kids jumping all over us and interrupting us so it was great having an adults only night!

Getting home at 12:30 am is not totally my jam these days so getting up & on the road the next day was a little rough! Thankfully we had DJ C-Sizzle on the beats in the backseat to keep us awake. (We did let him take his headphones and play it out loud a few times…)

One of my awesome friends moved to Amarillo a little over a year ago so that definitely makes that stop more exciting! Seeing all our kiddos together sure does make my heart happy. I’ve known her since her big kids were littles and now they could babysit my littles! (Except for that whole 6 hour commute.) Caleb made fast friends and was definitely sad to leave.

Then we finally had our very last day of driving!!! It really is incredible how well the kids did, but it was pretty safe to say that we were all WAY done with the car, people, each other, etc etc etc. We pretty much vegged for the next few days at home and recuperated from our busy trip. I think we ended up totaling about 35 hours in the car over the whole trip. The fact that the boys don’t scream when we get in the car now is a miracle in itself.

This guy literally fell asleep 5 minutes before we pulled into our driveway. And then cried when he realized we were home because he had SO MUCH FUN and just wants to move in with his cousins. I guess we will count that a successful trip!

Now on to many more fun memories in 2020!!! Happy New Years, y’all!!

***I definitely feel like I can’t post this without acknowledging my sweet Nana. She was always one of my biggest supporters of my blog and it certainly hurts knowing this is my first post to write without her here reading it. I sure do love you Nana and won’t ever be able to write a blog post without thinking of you!***