Mom’s First Trip to the Beach

The best part of this trip was getting to take my mom on her first trip to the beach!  It was SO special.


The idea started at the beginning of the summer.  I’ve been wanting to do something special for my mom since we both celebrate “big” birthdays next year.  How do you even begin to thank your mom for everything she’s done for you?!  Especially when you’ve had a great one!  It’s overwhelming, but sometimes it’s all about just listening.  Over the years, I’ve heard my mom talk about wanting to go to the beach and see the ocean.  We’ve all heard the story about the one time she went to Seattle over 20 years ago and could have seen the ocean, but it rained the whole time.  She just happened to retell the story recently at a family dinner and talked about still wanting to see the ocean.  Right then, I knew I wanted to make this happen.

I had plans to give her a beach bag and tell her about the trip on her birthday in January, but two weeks ago I just called her on my lunch break and asked “Do you want to be on the beach this time next week?”   And sure enough, a week later we loaded the car and headed out on a 12 hour road trip to Destin, Fl.  The moment we arrived and walked out to the beach was priceless!



We had so much fun and caught as many sunrises and sunsets at the beach as possible!

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Rest and Recharge

Enjoying the last of my vacation this afternoon.  It’s been a while since my last blog post, but today seems like a great day to start back.  There are just so many things I love about vacation – the break, the trip, the adventure, the unknown, the change of scenery, the change of routine, and the opportunity to just breathe, relax, reflect, recharge, pray, and be creative.   This vacation was all of those things!  One of the things I loved the most was the opportunity to be creative.  When I am on vacation, I can just read, write, and pick up my DSLR camera, dust off the lens, explore and take pictures.  It’s so refreshing.  This vacation was just that – a vacation.


Rest… a topic that God recently stirred in my heart during a Wednesday night prayer meeting at James River.  I really love these nights at James River – an opportunity to worship and pray about current circumstances.  During the service, I was praying about upcoming events and just asking what’s next when I felt Him say to me “Rest, my child.”   Not exactly the answer to my question, but actually just what I needed.  At the time, I had no plans for a trip or time off but I returned to work to see if maybe, just maybe there would be a window of time to get away before a very busy schedule in the fall. In our schedules these days, we have to pencil in a time of rest… crazy concept, but the truth.  I found the window of time and booked the trip to Destin, Florida for the next week.  This was a crazy last minute decision for this planner, but the best one!


There is just something about the beach shoreline and watching the waves roll in that provides the perfect place to rest and Destin was perfect with its white sand and clear emerald green water.  A place to rest and recharge.

Now it’s time for fall in my mind.  Already this week, my niece started pre-school and my brother gears up for the first Willow Springs Bears Football game of the season Friday night.  New staff start next week and my nephew’s first birthday party is around the corner.  Now I am ready… hello fall!

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby      

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2014 – A Year of Incredible Moments

Little did I know what 2014 had in store on New Year’s Eve 2013.  So many moments that would come as a surprise and one huge blessing!

I saw this idea on Pinterest around New Year’s Eve last year and decided to try it for 2014.  It has been something I’ve kept up with all year.

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Today, on New Year’s Eve, it has been such a blessing to open my jar and read through all the incredible moments and memories that 2014 had in store.

Here are the incredible moments from 2014 that I recorded one grateful note at a time:

1.15.14 Fun snow days with Felicia, Tyler, Dorothy and Justin playing board games and gather together for meals

1.18.14 Saturday downtown with Felicia just discovering stores, finding fun antiques and eating at a small  hole-in-the-wall.  Good Saturday!

1.24.14 Erin and Jonathan announced they are going to have a baby in September.  Best Surprise!!!

1.31.14 Thankful for Beth and Darwin who took me out to dinner and just listened and encouraged me.

2.4.14 Seeing an ultrasound picture of my future niece or nephew on this snow day.

3.15.14 Surprise of getting to stay at the Chateau for a night with Jess.  Thanks Ashley!

3.22.14 A sunny day for Justin’s first baseball game of the season with Jess, Checotah and AdaLena.

4.6.14 Baby Emma Pike arrived safely today!

4.9.14 A day off to run errands and get a massage for my birthday!

4.12.14 Baby Reveal Party with Jonathan and Erin.  It’s a boy!

4.20.14 Seeing so many respond to the alter call for salvation on Easter at James River.

4.25.14 BBQ at Justin’s lake house for the last time and Justin and AdaLena practicing their dance for the wedding on the porch under the stars.

5.4.15 A great day at Justin and Checotah’s wedding shower at Westside.

5.26.14 Enjoying a cup of coffee and enjoying the lake view on Memorial Day Weekend.

6.7.14 Watching my brother cry as his bride walked down the aisle on his wedding day and the rededication of AdaLena

6.25.14 A perfect night outside at the Taney County Fair to watch some bull riding with Jess and Felicia.  I love summer!

7.21-25.14 An amazing vacation with Jess, Felicia and Kelsie full of laughter, soaking up the sun on the beach, great seafood and incredible sunsets!

8.7.14 Growing in the field of Human Resources at the S.H.R.M. State Conference

8.28.14 Received a surprise Thank You card with a $100 gift card.

9.5.14 One of my very favorite days!  Heard Ezra James Harwood cry for the first time while lying on his mommy’s chest just about one hour after he was born!!!

9.16.14 I got to go backstage and meet Bryan White! It took me back to being 13 again.

9.14.14 Joined an amazing Life Group at James River.

10.11.14 Encouraged and uplifted at Designed For Life @ JQH!  “Row, Baby, Row when you are in the middle!”

10.18.14 Tried Fried Coke at the Texas State Fair.  So much fun!

11.9.14  A great weekend celebrating the twin’s birthday with a bonfire with friends, smores, and pumpkin carving.

Then SDC on Sunday for lights and rollercoasters in the dark.

12.25.14 Time with family at Christmas.

It’s been a great year and a wonderful experience to take a moment to be grateful for the “little moments.”

Here’s to 2015!

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Happy Holidays

This holiday season was extra special this year!

Every holiday was a “first” for Ezra.


The Despicable Me 2 family

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The cutest minion I’ve ever seen

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The Frozen family

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Ezra got to meet his great-grandparents

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Four Generations



James River Christmas Celebration



Christmas Eve


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Ezra’s First Christmas

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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Fall Favorites

There are many things I love about fall!

Here are some of my favorite moments from fall this year:

Gotta love PBR Weekend!

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Jess and I took a fall road trip to Denton, TX…


And enjoyed lots of fried food at the Texas State Fair.

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“Big Tex”


Our family loves the fall National Harvest Festival at Silver Dollar City

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We ended the fall season with a bonfire and pumpkin carving party for the twin’s 26th birthday!


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And then we kicked off the Christmas season at SDC since Christmas begins November 1st in Branson.

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All About Ezra James

 My nephew, Ezra James Harwood is one week old today!

He was born Friday, September 5, 2014 at 3:02 a.m.


Ezra this post is all about you and about those who love you!

Well Ezra you didn’t arrive on Labor Day like we all predicted.  We waited and waited all week… and then the doctor told your mommy, Erin, it was time for your arrival!

We all headed to Mercy Hospital Thursday night to wait for your mommy to be induced and wait for your arrival.


I think we had some fun in this Labor and Delivery Waiting Room!


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Waiting and waiting….and still no baby.  So the decision for a C-Section was made.

I love this picture of the Harwoods.  It tells a story.

This is Jonathan telling us that baby was here and mom was doing okay.


We were all glad to hear you and your mom were ok.

These are some of your first pictures with your mom!

I thought you looked so perfect for only being a few hours old.

All your nurses commented on how you were a pretty baby too!


Here you are with your dad.

Your mom and dad discovered the first night that you were going to love a pacifier and you love to be swaddled.

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The whole family came to the hospital to meet you!

Aunt Mana and Aunt Jess

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Your Uncle Justin, Aunt Checotah and Cousin AdaLena

and our Aunt Beth and Uncle Darwin.


Then your grandparents got to hold you.

Papaw and Mamaw


And this is only your mom’s side of the family!

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By Sunday evening, you and your mom were released to go home.


P.S. Your mom is absolutely amazing!

Your mom posted on your going home picture that you were a trooper but the truth is she is a trooper!

We’re all so glad you are here!

It’s only been a few days since I’ve seen you, but I miss you already!

Hope I get to hold you this weekend.


Aunt Mana


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It’s Labor Day

Today is Labor Day. 


It’s a day my family has been looking forward to since January when we found out my sister was pregnant and her due date was Labor Day. 

Today is her actual due date and we were all hoping she would be in labor on Labor Day!  I guess there are still a few hours left in the day, but for now we’re just waiting on my nephew to arrive!

My sister sure does have that about to be a mommy glow!

SONY DSCSeriously, who rocks a 9 month maternity shoot like this?


My nephew will be lucky to have her as his mom!

Dear Nephew, we can’t wait to meet you and find out your name!



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