Real grandma talk- Knitting is my favorite thing ever, think.  It's so dorky, but it just makes me so happy! And I have found this whole community of people online that love it too that have amazing tutorials and patterns that have taught me so much.  I am so so thankful for it and have had so much fun pushing myself farther than I thought I could go.
This was the first color work that I had ever done and the hats up there were the first bobble pieces I had ever done.  They were clearly easy projects, but trying new things and pushing myself has been just so much fun.  
I can honestly not talk about this sweater without getting kind of emotional and I know that is so freakin wierd. I know.  But this sweater changed the trajectory of my knitting and what I am able to do.  This tutorial really changed the game for me.  I had made a sweater before and I had made a few baby ones, so it wasn't my first.  But it was the first one that I made up on my own, thanks to Karen.  
I read each blog post that she posted and took in as much information as I could to take me to the next step and every time I tried it on and it fit I just felt like flying!
Then I made these Iris sweaters by Jenny Gordy for my nieces that are so cute, but done completely differently and that was so fun too! The first one took me four times to get the front right, but I learned so much by taking it out and trying again.

Which led me to Boyland knit works who is the most beautiful fiber artist with her knitting patterns. I am obsessed with every single thing she creates and I want to make every singe one.  
I was almost late to get on the plane to Africa with my mom and Christopher because I was getting the yarn for this sweater from the wonderful Mckinney Knittery and I worked on it constantly on the plane and then a ton at home.  I took a break to make Kai and Presley's sweaters and then worked on it again after the new year.
This was the first step into lace work and it was very challenging for me. Especially with such thin yarn, but I did love it.
I ended up finishing it for the annual meeting dinner when everyone came in from Caris for the week and it was just the coolest complete circle for me.  Trying something new and saying yes to things that I wouldn't usually do or that I would be too scared to do has taught me so much more than I could have ever learned sitting on the sidelines. 
I want to be someone who says yes. I dont want to be afraid- or if I am afraid I want to not be too afraid to try.  I want to teach my kids that failing and starting over is so much better than not trying.  I want them to know that working hard at something is so much better than being lazy or having things come easy. 
Now I am working on one for Ben.  Hopefully I finish it before it gets too hot, 😉


Shea's Book of Life Party

Shea (and all of us) love the movie Book of Life about Dia de los Muertos with a love triangle, renditions of Mumford and Son songs and a little Radiohead- what more could you want?  

It was kind of like the first Coco and it has almost the exact same Land of the Remembered feel with the magical colors and floating lanterns and flags and lights.  
It is beautiful.  
We tried to recreate it as best we could and I never want to take the decorations down.  It was just so magical.  The pictures really dont do it justice.  If we had known that this was her party theme when the real Dia de los Muertos was going on, I could have really stocked up on stuff, but we found what we could and I am definitely saving the decorations for every year.
My friends from school who grew up in Mexico loaned us some of the stuff that they own and use for parties and it just made the party.  Jeff got a poncho and we had a sombrero and serving dishes and a guitar! It was amazing.  And Jan made Shea a Maria- main girl who every body loves- costume and it was perfection!
 Then we busted out a piñata (even though Jeff said that is probably mixing up Mexican customs.  I feel like they probably had a lot of piñata in the Land of the Remembered).
 Shea loved the piñata and everyone loved helping her break it.
It really was just so much fun.
Then we sang to her on a cake that she and sawyer made with jeff earlier that day.  And sang again and again. She loveddddd it.  Ate it all up.  Until the last time when we dared sing to Victoria.  Then it was almost as bad as last year when sass tried to blow out her candles and help her. bahahhah!!

Happy birthday Shea.
I can not believe that you are 4.  You bring such joy and spunk and gentleness and love and also opinions that you hold to very tightly.  You have shown me what it means to step out of my comfort zone and how much joy that can bring as I have watched you have to go out of yours and seen you shine.  You have taught me patience and you bring me so much joy.  To be loved by you is truly an honor and I am so so thankful you are mine!



The plan was to get home on Dec 1 from Africa and then party the next day for my birthday (that was my plan, anyway.)
Then we almost missed our flight from London and literally had to do the run to the terminal with our hands out saying "hold the plane!!" and praying they would.
Luckily they did (even though I got there way before mom and christopher because after all the running and getting on the train and all of that they went to the WRONG TERMINAL. Luckily I made it).
Needless to say, we made it with zero time to spare and I got to be home for my birthday.
I woke up to balloons in my mantle from Vic and Rachel and it was such a perfect way to start my day!
And while I was gone Jeff and the kids hung lights in the back yard and the rainbow that Jeff and I had bought when we were in Comfort, Texas (that practically weighs 400 pounds).
 Jeff got the solo stove all heated and ready to go and we moved tables outside and played games and ate pizza.  It was very last minute, but fun.
 I made everyone look at all of my africa photos and videos.

 We stayed by the fire until like 2 and then up until 4 when Jeff told me he had to go bed.
Then I got bangs and loved my life.
I am so thankful for this year.  It has been so hard in so many ways, but it has taught me so much.  Last year on my birthday I was so depressed I could barely get out of bed.  I cried all the time and just was at such a low point in my depression.  This year I felt so alive.  I would like to thank wellbutrin, the Lord and Jeff and my friends how listened to me when I went round and round in my head (and out loud) with the same thoughts that I couldn't move away from.  I am thankful to have gone through it and even to still struggle with it in some way, so that I know what its like to be depressed.  I felt so much shame and wanted to pretend it wasn't there, but there was no way for me to do that.  I knew so many people going through so many terrible things that I just thought I could work out or eat healthy or do something to help me see how amazing my life was.  But it just doesnt work that way.  I have always been supportive of people who take medicine for it, but struggled to get on it myself until I felt like I had exhausted every other resource.  But since I have been on meds, I have just been able to be myself again. I feel miles away from last years birthday and I could not be more thankful (**pops wellbutrin into mouth and washes it down with cold coffee).



Getting the opportunity to go to Kenya with Caris Foundation was absolutely a highlight of my life.
It took us 36 hours to get there and when we got there they greeted us with an amazing song and dance to welcome us.
Every friday they do a Bible study together where they talk about one verse and everyone goes around and says what they think the verse means and what it means to them.

Meeting everyone was just such an honor and getting to hear their hearts was so incredible.
Then we went out into the field and met some of the girls in the TTG groups (finance groups) where they are learning how to support their families with different types of jobs, save their money and pay back the small loans Caris has given them.  They loan money to each other and work together to support themselves and each other.  It is just incredible.
They are also learning to read and write.  One of the girls who Caris has taught to read volunteers her time to come and teach the ladies who can stay after their TTG groups meet every week.

This is Elda.  She is an amazing woman and I am so grateful to have met her.  She grows these crops and sells them in the marketplace.  She has rented a pump and dug ditches for pipes to pump the water from a near by river to her crops. I can not imagine doing that much work every day.  She is saving to by her own pump so she can rent it to other people and make money off of that.
Next to her is Edward who is in charge of the ag section at Caris and is helping her with any problems she has with her crops.

We also got to be a part of their end of year dinner and it was just a blast.  Everyone in Africa knows how to party and sing and dance and it was so much fun getting to see all that they do at work and also how much fun they have together outside of work.
The last day we were there was the celebration for all the women in the Caris programs.
They all walked from wherever they live, it could be miles away, and celebrated all that they have accomplished this year.  Caris gave out awards to TTG groups, to individuals who had saved the most money or made the most or grew the most crops, etc.  It was so much fun watching them recognized for all of their hard work and watch them just have fun together.
It started the moment we got out of the car.  They knew mom and Christopher were in charge and they just ran to the car and danced them to the ceremony.  It was the best entrance I have ever had for sure.
This is Mom with one of the original single moms that went through the caris program and has now graduated from the program and supporting herself and her family.
They even had an awesome Photo Booth that we took advantage of on our way out.  We didnt get to stay for the whole dinner because we had to get catch our flight.
We made it in the nick of time and flew to Nairobi where we had dinner at a fun restaurant and processed the trip.  They happened to be hosting a party for someone famous and there were camera crews outside doing interviews.  We felt a little under dressed but luckily no one noticed and we got to go in anyway.
 I taught Christopher to knit and he made a hat on the way home and to say I was excited was definitely an understatement.


Haiti with Caris

I can not put into words adequately what it meant to get to go to Haiti with Caris and see all of the incredible work that they are doing.  It is absolutely astounding and humbling and exciting on every level.  They are the most incredible people bringing healing and life all over the country.
We got to go on a helicopter ride and see the other side of the island where Caris is also located in Cap Hatien and it was breathtaking.
And of course the pilot ended up loving mom so much that he came to see us leave the next day ha!

The Cap-Haiten branch did presentations for Mom and Christopher to show all the incredible work they are doing and I just was so humbled to hear their incredible work.
 Then we hiked up to the Citadel and it was just beautiful. 

 Then we got to hear the incredible presentations of the Port au Prince side of Caris and it was incredible.  We walked into this incredible surprise party with signs and balloons and skits that showed their work, a song they sang in french and english, many people who spoke, cake, pizza, popcorn and so much more.  It was just amazing.

We saw a rainbow on our helicopter ride and it was breathtaking.
I can never thank Caris for having me and hosting me and I will never forget this trip or all the incredible work being done in Haiti!
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