Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Festivities

I have to be honest and say that I have had an overwhelming month. There are so many things I have wanted to blog about, but between traveling and a generally difficult month, it just hasn't happened. Thus the total of 4 posts this month. I had over 400 photos and movies on my phone that I haven't had a chance to look at, much less upload for family to see or blog about.

So, in an effort to play catch up, here is a quick overview of our Christmas so far {I say so far, because we still have to celebrate with family in Arkansas}.

Christmas Eve, we went to Daniel's cousin's house for the traditional Moore family Christmas Eve celebration. We broke tradition in that we met at 1pm instead of in the evening, but it worked out perfectly for us to meet earlier in the day. Chris and Jessica were wonderful hosts and the food was all delicious. Jack made off with lots of loot. Thank you to all of the Moores for being so generous and sweet to our little guy. The noisy toys are a big hit with Jack.

After dinner and visiting, we headed to my sisters for Christmas Eve. She treated us to some fabulous Pinterest dishes, then we listened to my brother-in-law read the kids "The Night Before Christmas." 

I made my special hot chocolate for the adults {though my brother cheaped out on us and didn't bring the kahlua} and we had salted caramel shortbread {thank you Pinterest}. We watched Duck Dynasty while we put out the last minute stuff for the kiddos.

Christmas morning was fun watching the kids open their presents. Jack could care less about opening gifts. Lucky for cousin Levi, he got to help Jack. Daniel and I have never been real gift givers {we have never exchanged gifts in 10 years of marriage}. We have also struggled with the whole idea of piles of gifts. My sister and her husband are totally opposite. Gift giving is totally their love language. They love to give. They love the magic it provides for their kids. It is really sweet. We love being their with them and celebrating, but we chose to do gifts a bit differently. We decided that our tradition will be three gifts on Christmas day: something you want, something you need and something to read. It is something that works for us, so that is what we did.

After presents, we had breakfast and watched Home Alone and then my brother went with us to Opryland to look at the lights.

After Opryland we met up with Daniel's dad and one of his sisters and her boyfriend for our traditional Hibachi dinner. Jack LOVED the fire and watching the chef with the knives. The only downside was that dinner took two hours and we had to drive home in some rough weather.

We have been trying to have a little down time while we unpack, wash clothes and get ready for round 2 of travels/visiting.

Today I learned that my Uncle Keith had a massive heart attack while shoveling snow. It turned out to be a blessing because he was working with a neighbor who was able to call 911 and who also happened to have a nitro-glycerine tablet that most likely saved Keith's life. We are so very thankful he is ok but will be keeping him and my Aunt Linda in our prayers. It's been a crazy month.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Ten days ago I learned that a classmate, Amelia, from my hometown was in a terrible car wreck. Last night I learned that she would not be waking up. She leaves behind a husband and two small children.

I don't even know what to say. Unexpected death is the thing that I find to be the most challenging to my faith. It is so senseless. I am incredibly sad for her family.

Like when my friend drowned earlier this year, or the Sandy Hook shootings last week, my mind screams, "Why?" They don't deserve this. Those left behind don't deserve to deal with this. And yet this is life. This is the world we live in. It is full of hurt and suffering and pain.

There are no words that I can offer of comfort to these families. I pray for them. For comfort. For shoulders to cry on. For arms to be wrapped around them and ears to listen. I pray that they have people who will walk with them as they traverse this difficult valley of pain and suffering.
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand … For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” – Isaiah 41:10, 13

January 30, 2013 UPDATE 
Shortly after I wrote this original blog post, Amelia showed signs of brain activity. She was admitted to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta to help recover from the brain injury she sustained from her accident. Her family is hopeful that she will be in a Minimally Conscious State by her birthday and be able to move on to the next phase of treatment. 

April 4, 2013 UPDATE
Amelia was able to go home. Her mother is caring for her at this time. I am unclear as to how much she will recover, but she is now home and surrounded by family.

God continues to work in this situation and I continue to pray for her family as they walk through this difficult valley.

July 23, 2013 UPDATE
Amelia's Mom wrote:  
Our precious Amelia has her victory. She peacefully went to her new home this morning at 7:00. We didn't leave her bedside and we were watching every breath. Thank you for your love and prayers.
I am truly saddened by the loss of Amelia. I hope and pray that her family can find peace in this terrible ordeal. They will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers in the days and years to come. For some reason I keep having the image in my head of Amelia running through a field of daisies to meet loved ones who have gone before her. Rest in love, Amelia.

Monday, December 17, 2012

10 Years and Counting


Ten years ago today, Daniel and I said our "I do's." Each anniversary that passes always feels like a blink of an eye. At 22 we were very young and very much in love. Today we are still young and still in love.

 Anthony Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountain National Park 2003

Ten years ago I didn't really have a clue about what to expect for the future. I just knew that I wanted to be with Daniel. I had no idea that we would move to two new states. Or that Daniel would be laid off from a job and be jobless for a full year. Or that we would decide to wait so long to have our first child. I had no idea how much I could love a baby or how much more that baby would make me love Daniel. I also had no clue how hard being parents would be or how living on such little sleep could make it so difficult to do simple, every day things. I didn't know that we would spend 5 years renovating a house or choose to live in a camper for 3 months.

 The long drive from Tennessee to Durango, Durango Mexico 2004

If I could go back and give advice to the newly-wed me, I would be sure to say the following:

 Mt Mitchell, North Carolina 2004

Make sure you find older couples who have been married longer than you to watch and learn from. Having role models will have a huge impact on your life. Sometimes observing both the good and bad will help you to learn and adapt in your own marriage. We are tremendously blessed in the fact that my grandparents were married for almost 60 years and my parents have been married for 36 years. Watching this kind of longevity in a marriage has had a tremendous impact on our own marriage.

 Koko Crater, Oahu Hawaii 2005

Along these lines, watch how couples around you are raising their kids. What works? What doesn't? Observation is a powerful tool and will help you tremendously when you do decide to have kids.

 Scuba Diving, Madang, Papua New Guinea 2005

Develop a hobby (or hobbies) that you love to do together. Friendship is the glue that will keep you going when things get tough.

 Move to Charlotte, North Carolina 2005

Choose everyday to stay married. 

Mt. Rogers, Virginia 2005

Choose love. Some days it will be harder than others.

 Grayson Highlands, Virginia 2006

It's okay to fight. But fight fair. Sometimes you will both think you are right and the other person is dead wrong. Let it go. Agree to disagree.

You don't have to be right all of the time. Let it go.

Kiss each other goodbye in the morning. Kiss when you get home from work. Kiss when you go to sleep at night. Do it, even if you don't feel like it.

Hold hands. At the movies. When you pray. In church. Touch is important.

 Charleston, South Carolina 2008

Finally have fun together. Laughter will cure the biggest hurt. Laugh at the craziness of life. Laugh to be silly. Laugh to have fun together. See the ridiculous around you. Laughter will keep you grounded and will help you to get past the things that don't feel so funny. 

God blessed me so much when he brought Daniel into my life. It was a Saturday in February in Searcy, Arkansas in 2000. A group of my friends were assembling to go on a caving trip with me. Daniel got invited to tag along. 

My life has never been the same since that day that we met.

Since that day we have crawled through caves; climbed mountains; paddled rivers; walked countless miles through the woods and to waterfalls and over hills. We have swam in the ocean and watched shooting stars. 

Daniel is my mate for life and I am so thankful that God brought us together 12 years ago.

Ten years is just the tip of the iceburg, Daniel Moore. I expect to take adventures together for as long as we both live.

 Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Celebrating My Grandpa

Exactly one week ago we said our goodbyes to my Grandpa Lock. It seems like a hundred years. I have had a lot in my head, but between being sick and traveling almost 2,400 miles to get there and back, I just haven't had the energy to pull my thoughts together.

Two years ago, much of my family traveled to see my Grandpa as he battled Stage 4 Colon Cancer. Things didn't look good. It was a very difficult time for our family on many levels. Daniel and I had been living in two separate states and it seemed like everyone that was related to me was under a great deal of personal stress. I think God intentionally gave Grandpa two more years so that our great big family could have some time to heal. Two years ago, it would have been too much to lose Grandpa.

I won't say that I was prepared to lose him when it happened. It was sudden. But again, I believe God took care of things. My sister, Angela, and I (and our kiddos) happened to be visiting my parents and were with my mom when she received the sudden call that Grandpa had been admitted to the hospital and only had three days to live.

We were making dinner when my mom answered the phone. I could sense something was wrong and I mouthed the words, "Is everything ok?"

"No. It's Grandpa." She mouthed back. 

Nana and Grandpa were supposed to come down to Tennessee for Christmas in only a few short weeks so I certainly didn't expect this. 

I sat with mom while she finished the call with her older brother. I informed my sister. I called my brother. We called our husbands. My head was spinning. We helped mom prepare for a trip. A last trip to see her dad. Unfortunately he died peacefully right as she boarded her plane. Thankfully she was still able to go ahead and be with her family while the rest of us scrambled to get things in order so that we could make the long drive to get to Canada to mourn with her.

My dad and brother, Mark, drove up first. Straight through the night.

Angela panicked about not having a birth certificate for Levi to get him into and out of Canada.

Daniel called to tell me he had a fever and wasn't sure if he could make the trip.

Everything was a bit nuts.

I think that I must deal with high stress by getting into an organizing mode. I got people where they needed to go. I navigated plane tickets and had Daniel find us a house. I researched the birth certificate thing and tried to ease my sister's fears that she would be able to take her son to Canada. I washed and repacked cloths and shopped for supplies for our drive. And I worried a bit about everyone. I guess that is what the big sister does. 

Three days after finding out the news, we made the long drive to Canada. Fourteen hours in a car with a 13-month-old and our dog. Somehow neither Jack nor Sophie complained or fussed too much (that was mostly just me and Daniel). We arrived in the middle of the night and collapsed in our beds.

The next morning we met with my mom's immediate family (with kids, spouses, grandkids and great grandkids this group numbers 44 in all). Everyone came. This was a first ever. I haven't seen many of my cousins in years. We are all getting older and going our separate ways. It is getting harder to see them with each passing year. Grandpa would have loved to see us all together.

We cried. But we laughed too. A lot. Grandpa would have liked that. Maybe that is how we deal with our grief, we laugh. Maybe it is inappropriate, but I think Grandpa would have been proud that we were able to all be together and to celebrate his life.

Grandpa led a good life. He was a good man. He loved many. He had a heart for missions. He loved the Lord. He loved his children and his grandchildren and his greats. He especially loved our Nana. Things were not perfect. Relationships in this life never are. But I think Grandpa had peace in the end.

The memorial service was Friday evening. I really thought that I would go and bawl my eyes out. You're supposed to do that at a funeral, right? I have only been to a handful of funerals. They were sad occasions. 

Except for my Great Grandma Hotchkiss's. I was twelve. Her funeral was a celebration. I remembering laughing. A lot. I also remember that her pallbearers were her granddaughters (including my mom). Grandpa Lock's funeral was a lot like Great Grandma's.

My Uncle Mike was the main speaker. My aunts both spoke. They asked the grandchildren to speak. I had lost my voice almost completely and Angela didn't think she could talk. We wrote up some notes and Mark added to them. Of course Mark had us all laughing. But it was memories that we wouldn't want to forget. According to the cousins that did speak, it seems that Grandpa made most of the younger boy cousins pick a lot of dandelions over the years.

Part of the remarks my siblings and I wrote for the funeral:
As the southern extension of the Lock Flock, we have been blessed with grandparents who have made every effort to not let the miles between us (1,036 miles/1,667 km) prevent us from staying close. Whether it was holidays or summer vacations or graduations or weddings, Grandpa and Nana tried their best to always be at the important events in our lives.
Grandpa always enjoyed his one on one time with his grandkids. Nana invented Special Time, but as the years passed, Grandpa made sure to get special time of his own. He liked taking us to Timmies but also loved to go for breakfast at Sambo’s. All of those talks made us feel special and loved.
Seeing how Grandpa loved Nana and always treated her with respect and love and made sure that she was happy, has helped us as adults to know how to treat those we love. 

My life is richer for having my Grandpa in my life. He didn't always talk a lot. Especially not in a huge crowd. In our family that is a difficult thing. There is always a huge crowd. But if you could get a few moments with him, alone, then he would talk. He had a sense of humor that I see in my cousins. Jokes that we all share. I always think of it as Lock humor. I have it too. 

Nana and Grandpa would have been married for 60 years next summer. They leave a great legacy of strong marriages. An example of persevering even when things are hard. Of showing love and respect to the end. 

Saturday we laid Grandpa to rest. It must be a Canadian thing because the cousins were pallbearers, including me and two other of the girl cousins. It was cold and rainy. A gloomy day in December. It might be said that God was weeping for Grandpa. I think that while our tears were sad, God's would be tears of joy in welcoming Grandpa into heaven. After my Uncle David's remarks, my cousin Joel led us in a pidgin song. This probably caused me to tear up the most out of anything else during Grandpa's celebration. I will forever miss listening to Grandpa's booming voice when we sing songs in church or as a family. I look forward to seeing Grandpa in heaven some day. I am sad that he won't be coming for Christmas this year...

-- Raymond Mont Lock 1931-2012 --

LOCK, Raymond Mont - Peacefully, at Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie on Tuesday, December 4, 2012, Ray Lock, aged 81 years, of Port Colborne. Beloved husband of Elizabeth. Dear father of David and Dorothy (North Bay), Lois and Larry Voyles (Searcy, Arkansas), Michael and Barb (Mississauga), Becky and Malvin Allgood (Nashvilloe, Tenn.), Bethany and Chris Wirkkunen (Welland) and daughter-in-law, Karen Lock. Also survived by 16 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Brother of Elwyn (Alberta) and Hugh (Saskatchewan).

Monday, December 03, 2012

Thornhill Christmas Tree Farm 2012

About five years ago, Daniel and I started the tradition of setting up a live tree in addition to our fake memory tree. 

The live tree goes in our living room and will be decorated with items we make – generally strings of popcorn and gingerbread cookies. It is a tree that smells delicious and is covered with love.

Since living in Alabama, we have made the trek to Pisgah to the Thornhill Christmas Tree Farm to pick out a real tree. This is our second year to make the trek. 

Since Daniel has Friday's off, we go on Friday to skip the crowds. This is great since we can take Sophie with us. The draw back is that we can't ride on their little train. At this age, I don't think that Jack minds though.

After taking our customary pictures by the tress and letting Sophie run to her heart's delight, we decided to buy a pre-cut Douglas Fir that they had in their barn. 

While not quite as nostalgic as cutting down our own, it was still a special trip.

I think that Jack will come to enjoy our tradition of going to the farm to get a ginormous tree to haul back to our house. I will be glad when he is big enough to help Daniel haul the 100+lb tree into the house instead of me!

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...