Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Came Early!

Did you hug your children a little more this weekend? Did you hang on to their smiles, laughs, & hugs a little longer? Did their versions on "I love you" feel your hearts with joy? I cannot imagine what the parents in Sandy Hook are experiencing this holiday season.  When I hear, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..." I can't help but think this isn't the most wonderful time for these families.  All I know to do is pray...prayers for the families, prayers for our government in hopes that they make effective changes for our societies safety, prayers for our schools.
I hugged my boys longer, I tickled Peyton until he said, "Luv youuu,"& I was a little more worried when I left them for school Monday morning.  In the midst of the sadness for our country, we did celebrate Christmas with the Barlows (due to going to Kentucky).   We loved every minute of our time with Nana & Papa Rusty.  We opened gifts, played with the new toys, shopped for gifts we hadn't gotten for others, went to church, learned how to make gumbo, & just enjoyed being together.  Here are a few highlights -
Peyton waiting to open gifts! 
We are calling our tree this year our "Charlie Brown" tree - see all the extra long limbs.  We love it!

Our tree! 
Peyton LOVED playing with all of his new toys with Papa Rusty!

Papa Rusty playing with Peyton's new guitar! 
Nolan loved watching Mama & Peyton open all of his gifts.  He enjoyed being spoiled by his grandparents - lots of cuddling, kisses, & extra sleep time on Nana's tummy.
Nolan relaxed & sleepy during "Barlow Christmas" 
A few pictures after Sunday church -
This Christmas, I will cherish family time a little more, reminded that many have unexpectedly lost loved ones.  I will probably hug & kiss my boys a few more extra times.  Only 7 more days till Christmas...are you done with your shopping? (I'm not!)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nolan's 4 months!

It has been a monumental week for Nolan! He turned 4 months old on Friday, Nov. 30th.  He finally is sleeping from 9:00pm - 6:00am (a huge answer to prayer due to mama being back at work full-time)!  He has begun laughing - especially at his big brother & his papa!  He ROLLED OVER for the first time this week!!! He finally likes the play-yard (Peyton loved the play-yard from week one - on!)  Where has my newborn gone? Our "Goose" is growing up!!! Here are a few pictures of Nolan -
Nolan & Papa Rusty during Thanksgiving break
Taking pictures for our Christmas card
It truly happens - I feel my heart grew when Nolan was born.  I love both boys with all my heart & love watching them grow!
Happy Saturday morning!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rewind to our Thanksgiving Trip...

   I couldn't help myself & had to write a thankful list for 2012 - my heart was filled completely FULL with gratitude this Thanksgiving.  As I look at Nolan, I truly believe he is a MIRACLE! Many doctors, nurses, & all research indicated Nolan would have cancer.  But, as you know - he is CANCER-FREE.  I did not participate in the 30-days of Thankfulness on Facebook (Although, I loved reading others entries), so it was on my heart to share with you what stood out to me this year.  I also wanted to share pictures & memories from our Barlow Thanksgiving in Destin, FL. 
   Jonathan likes to drive at night & I do not due to feeling exhausted the next day.  But, when you have a baby that doesn't like his car seat or the car (Nolan), all of a sudden, I love driving at night.  Therefore, we left Tuesday evening for Destin & returned early Saturday morning.  My in-laws rented the children (& grandchildren) a gorgeous condo for us.  Each morning, Jonathan & I opened our windows/doors to an unbelievable sunrise.  During the week, we got to - celebrate birthdays, play on the beach, run a 10K (& meet our goals & both have our personal best races!), go Black Friday shopping, watch the sunset, eat delicious food, watch the cousins make memories, & exchange Christmas gifts! It was so much fun to watch Peyton play with Lele & Hayes.  Next year, Nolan will also be in the middle of it all.  Here are a few highlights -
Cousin Fun - Lele, Hayes, & Peyton
Nana loving on Lele & Nolan

Happy birthday Jonathan & Papa Gerald!
Thanksgiving Family Photo
Loving time with Lele!
Peyton & Papa loving the beach! (I didn't pack a swimsuit! :) )
Showing off my new Christmas gifts from Amanda!
Thank you Nana & Papa Rusty for hosting ALL of us for Thanksgiving.  Thank you Jeremy, Amanda, & Seth for celebrating with us.  It was a relaxing week, filled with many memories.  I am grateful for my extended family - their prayers for my boys, their support & encouragement as we navigate what it means to parent, & their unconditional love. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Thanksgiving full of THANKS!

Don't you have MUCH to be thankful for this year? Did you spend time this Thanksgiving holiday reflecting on all of God's goodness?  Jonathan & I have FULL hearts of many, many things that we are thankful for this 2012 year.
We have returned from Destin, Florida where we spent Thanksgiving with Jonathan's family.  Our home is being transformed into a winter wonderland & Peyton's excitement grows as I tell him about snow, Jesus' birth, & Santa coming to town.  But, as I prepare to go back to work tomorrow morning (& 3 days later I am posting this blog...my new life), I wanted to spend some time sharing with you what I am thankful for this year -
1. Nolan's health - We truly are blessed that Nolan is cancer free.  He truly is a miracle from God. Nolan smiles ALL THE TIME, coos, laughs, & is our little happy baby.  We have seen God's goodness through Nolan.  
My favorite newborn picture of Nolan
Nolan's 1st Thanksgiving
 2. Peyton's energetic personality - Peyton does not stop - he runs, plays, talks, & puts a smile on our faces. I had no idea parenting would bring so much JOY, but also so many challenges.  Peyton reminds us of that everyday.  
Peyton loves to wear my sunglasses & his bike helmet when we go running!
 3. Our jobs (& this includes our church family, due to that being Jonathan's work place)  - God has answered our prayers & callings in life.  We are grateful for our co-workers & the communities we work with everyday. 
Celebrating Thanksgiving with my precious Kindergarten Indians
 4. Our home & health - After Nolan's surgery & miraculous diagnosis, I do not take my health for granted.  We are grateful for the ability to exercise & have good health. 
Thanksgiving Day 10K
 5. Our dog, Derby - Derby loves the boys & the boys love Derby! 
6. My husband, Jonathan - Jonathan is truly my soul-mate - he knows me better than I know myself.  He knows how to encourage, support, & challenge me. He is an excellent father & where I am weak, he is strong. God has blessed me with my husband & our marriage.  
Celebrating Jonathan's 30th birthday!
 7. Our extended family, our friends, & the list could go on....

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Today is My Thirtieth Birthday


Today is my thirtieth birthday.  I woke up at 2 am to the beautiful, sad, unrelenting cries of Goose who doesn’t understand why he shouldn’t be held, rocked, soothed and fed whenever he feels like it.  The cries that woke me (which if I’m honest seldom do wake me) didn’t irritate me the way they have in the past.  I was grateful this morning, soaking them in, pretending Goose wanted to be the first one to sing Happy Birthday to his Papa! I have been up since then.

I spent the wee hours of the morning thinking and praying about the past decade.  Wow you can change a great deal in a decade if you let yourself.  10 years ago today I would have been studying at Mississippi College (Go Choctaws) in the New Men’s dorm (has anyone given enough money yet to have it renamed?) enjoying my junior year feeling I had finally found my stride as a failed college soccer player but a promising college tennis player.  (To mark how much things can change, it has been almost a year since I have picked up a racket.  I would have bet the farm I would never be able to say that 10 years ago.  Sorry Coach, I will try to do better and get back to practicing soon.) 

10 years ago I was certain of so many things about Christianity, faith, people and life.  To say I had the world by the tail would not be an understatement.  Certain I was on the fast track to who knows where but on it and ready to go. I couldn’t wait for the journey after college to begin. (I don’t know if I am less ambitious but certainly my ideals of success have changed)

Since the days of the New Men’s Dorm, college tennis, internships, seminary studies, new friendships, the adventures of courtship, engagement and marriage to Susan Fraley, starting our family, the arrival of our wild man Pumpkin-Doodle, the miracle of Goose’s arrival, taking the training wheels off and beginning as Pastor of Royston Baptist Church, and the many things I have missed that make up my twenties- I am deeply humbled by the people I have met, the way I have been blessed, the family I have- the ones who have put up with me since I was Perfect Child, little Lord Fauntleroy, and who knows what else y’all called me behind my back and the ones  I have gained in the last 5 years.  I am amazed at the subtle ways God is molding me still, smoothing the rough places, firming up the insecurities, giving shape to the person I believe God created me to be often times as I kick and scream trying to keep the shape from forming.

I could ( I won’t) but I could make a list of all the terrible things that have happened to me in the past decade.  None of us make it through a year, much less a decade, without significant scars, bumps and bruises to the soul.  I could, (I won’t) but I could make a list of all the failures, the bucket list items I didn’t achieve and the places I have not gone.   

That is a fruitless way to look at life.  Risk requires failure at times to succeed.  Life has it’s share of difficulties, none of us escape trouble, and often times it defines us in positive ways, a refiners fire of sorts.  There is simply too much life to do it all.  It would be like drinking from a fire hydrant while riding in one of those really fast trains that are in Europe… or is it China?  If you do that much and never stop to enjoy the moment, are you living or just having experiences?

So this morning as the coffee brews, as my body recovers from a morning jog, as my mind races with gratitude for the past 10 years and my mind dreams about what I might have to say 10 years from today (Pumpkin will be 12 and Goose 10- Oh Lord give us strength!  And who knows who else might be around then?) I decided it best to stop and reflect on the moment.  Stop and smell the roses.  Stop and listen to God.  Stop and thank God for the many blessings.

Thirty is still quite new to me and let me just say, boy oh boy am I excited to be here! 

Thank you all who read this and are integral in shaping who we are as the Barlow Bunch.  We love you all and I am sure we don’t say it enough! 

Some of the family I am so grateful to have in my life!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Halloween...a little late

I am way behind on my blogging, but have reliable excuses.  Last week, I started back to full-time work, experienced my first trip to the ER, & lost my last surviving Grandmother.  It was an emotional week - unable to play with my boys over the weekend due to being sick, hearing the news of my Grandmother's passing, & knowing my time at home with Nolan & Peyton was ending.  There will be more blogs on these subjects, but I did survive.  I felt 100% better Monday morning, my Grandmother is sipping coffee in heaven (& able to walk, diaper-free), & I already love the 21 kindergarteners in my class.
Here are a few highlights from Halloween.  Peyton had a blast running around in his puppy costume, eating candy, & carving a pumpkin with Papa.  We started the evening off with Royston trick-r-treating, stopped by our neighbors home, & ended the evening at our Fall Bash at Royston Baptist Church.  By the end of the day, it was a memorable evening.
Peyton helping Papa carve a pumpkin!
Shellei & Braz visiting before Trick-or-Treating
Peyton Trick-or-Treating Downtown Royston
Dressed up for our Fall Bash!
Thank you friends for your support this week - for your prayers, texts, phone calls, flowers, meals, etc.  I am adjusting to our new life as a working mommy of two.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Ole Kentucky Home

Last weekend, we took our longest road trip yet...with (an almost) 3 month old & a 2-year-old! Jonathan & I packed the car & headed "home."  We had this weekend planned in June - going to shower Sarah's baby girl, take the boys to the race track, & to spend time with family before my maternity leave ends.  We had a fun-filled weekend!
It started with a trip to Anne Mason Elementary to play on Grandmama's instruments.  Peyton loved ALL of the instruments...running around playing on them.  Grandmama gave him a few lessons & even took him out to the school playground. 
Playing in Grandmama's music classroom
Grandaddy with Peyton & Nolan
Aunt Nancy had the idea to take the boys to Evans Orchard.  Carter & Peyton had a blast playing together - on the playground, at the petting zoo, & sharing apple pies.  This is the first time we really noticed them playing with one another. They "talked," shared toys, & got into trouble together.  Can we say we have our hands full?!
What are these cousins getting into?
Grandmama & Nolan (can't you tell he's in heaven? He's our cuddler!)
Anna got us box tickets to Keeneland for Friday.  The weather drastically dropped, but that did not matter.  We took pictures, watched the horses, & ate some of our favorite Kentucky food.  Peyton loved every minute.  When asked by his sitter about his Kentucky trip, he said, "Horses FAST!" 
The Barlows at Keeneland
Nancy & Carter, Auntie Anna, Peyton & Me
Happy 3 Months, Nolan! (10-30-12)
Best Buds at the Track!
Finally, on Saturday morning we celebrated with Sarah & Ella.  We drove down to Somerset, KY to Ashley's house for Ella's shower. (I wish I had a picture of Ella, but didn't get one!)  These girls have kept in touch with me, & I've lived away for EIGHT YEARS! Every time I come to KY, we find something to celebrate.  Our group keeps growing with husbands, toddlers, & babies.  What special friends!!!
Celebrating Ella Gregory's arrival! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I continue to be reminded how HARD parenting can be on a daily basis!!!  It has become more apparent as Peyton has entered the "terrible-twos" & we have a 2-month old who has suffered a major surgery, colic, acid reflux, trouble sleeping, etc. 
This weekend, I learned of a distant family member who was my age, living in a homeless shelter, & died unexpectedly due to taking some form of drugs.  This news has really upset me, reminding me of how hard life can be on anyone.
With that in mind, this weekend alone - I spilled an entire gallon of sweet tea on my kitchen floor while holding a screaming Nolan.  I said a "bad" word, which Peyton repeated, & that crushed my spirit.  I was 30 minutes late to Sunday School & was supposed to teach the lesson.  I struggled to worship, due to my frustration with myself being late to church.  My attitude was not in check this weekend. In the meantime - I needed to parent.  Nolan had needs - eating, changing, sleeping.  Peyton had needs - consistent discipline, consistent schedule (he is his mama - he loves routine!), continued work on healthy eating, etc.  I was very aware parenting "takes a village," without my husband, I do not know how I could manage (& I greatly admire those who single parent).  I was very aware parenting takes LOTS of prayer - for the parents & the children. 
To you my blogger readers - I LOVE my boys with all my heart.  But, it is HARD to parent.  I question my decisions, my actions, my time spent with my family wanting to make it the BEST, most memorable at all times.  I am learning - it is a learning process full of mistakes & lessons learned.  For some reason, I felt I needed to share my struggles...we all have them, don't we?

Happy moments caught on our cell phones -
Nolan loving the fall weather!
Peyton playing with Nolan at the hotel in St. Simons
Dark but sweet photo w/ Lindsay Salapka: LOVED time with her!
Nolan asleep on the play yard! 
My prayer as a parent & for my boys - "...he may strengthen you with power through His Holy Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted & established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ & to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19

Monday, October 15, 2012

Grandmama in town...

 This past week, Grandmama Fraley spent her fall break with us! We had tons of fun - a trip to the local pumpkin patch, story-time at the library, a trip to North Georgia to pick apples, cooking, organizing a storage closet, a 5K race, the Royston Fall Festival, a DATE NIGHT with Jonathan (our first since Nolan's arrival)...etc.  It was a wonderful week & I'm so thankful I was still on maternity leave.  Here are a few pictures from the pumpkin patch -
Nolan at the Pumpkin Patch...thank you Aunt Nancy for my hat!

Peyton did NOT want to take this picture!!
Pictures from the apple orchard - 
Grandmama & Peyton on the hayride 

Aren't we thankful for family? Family allows us to be our true "selves" - our highs & lows.  Jonathan & I are truly are blessed to have wonderful parents & siblings.  I will cherish the family memories made this past week.