Year Catchup

I guess I officially suck at meeting goals.  It's been a whole year....well, just short of one.  I'll give myself a small pat on the back for posting before the 1 year mark!  There's a whole lot to cover, so here it goes...

Fall 2017

In late September we decided to head to the mountains for a little train excursion to please our train obsessed son and his adoring sister who loves her brother enough to go along with it all.  Bryson City is home to the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad which was the main reason for our trip.  We stayed at an airbnb which also happened to be an old Caboose!  It was so much fun, even if the top bunk of a caboose is not the most pleasant place to sleep.  The kids LOVED it!  And seeing them so excited was worth a crick in our necks and 1 sleepless night.  Cici and granddaddy were nice enough to head there on Friday so we could finish up work and then we met them Saturday after they went on the train ride.  Splitting a vacation in half with grandparents is the way to go - win win!

All aboard!  Jackson (Collier's favorite sidekick these days) also came along for the ride along the Nantahala.
We had a wonderful time checking out the train, eating ice cream, drinking beer and walking through creeks.
One of the highlights was picking apples at a local orchard on our way home!  They were some tasty apples!  

Fall Saturdays were full of SOCCER!  Collier joined the Purple Panthers and blew us away with his skills.  I'm not entirely being sarcastic....we really were so impressed by his enthusiasm and effort.  

Fall soccer season was extra special with Betsy Grace joining the REDS team!

It has been so fun watching these girls get better every season.  They have stayed on the same team with Coach Trey for 3 years!!
My buddy, such a cutie!

In the Bakement with Friends...
Every now and then I let the kids have some fun with friends downstairs.  Girls love making fondant decorations and the boys...well, they just love to make a mess and eat cake.

Bryant and Isabelle, keeping things calm and sweet (and perhaps sneaking a few bites of fondant when I'm not looking).

Collier, Jud and Henry, making a mess and having a great time.  I love how Collier introduced the Bakement to his friends by saying, "This is where my mom lives..."

Another great highlight from our Fall was a day trip to Chapel Hill - a first for the kids.  We scored great seats to a football game and although Collier didn't want to be pictured here, both kids absolutely loved being at a LIVE football game!  The halftime show was possibly the most entertaining part.  (For me.)

We had to give the kids a short campus tour, the Phi Delt House being one of the most important stops.  Since the game was not yet over, there weren't many "brothers" around, so we made ourselves at home.  Kids kicked around their brand new UNC football after we did short walk-through in the house.  Isabelle was a little grossed out by the smells, the dirty floors and the empty beer bottles and solo cups spread throughout, but that didn't stop her from dreaming of one day being a Carolina grad. Maybe she'll just think better of one day marrying a Phi Delt.

Chi-O house didn't make the tour this go around, but we'll be back...

I guess both kids were inspired by their Chapel Hill excursion (see pics above) on Halloween night!  This was a first.  I didn't have to purchase or sew anything!  Both costumes had been previously purchased (and worn many times before), so this was a stress-free holiday.

We stopped at more houses than ever before (which was probably only 8-10 since Collier tires easily) and collected more candy than ever before.  Kids were even willing to combine all the candy.  A Halloween for the books!


Another wonderful Thanksgiving at the Barksdales - thankful to be with the extended Tucks family and the Tuckers too!

Thankful for so much.
But mostly for our highly addictive smartphones.  JJ and Ellie, the hostesses with the mostesses.

What a spread!  I have to unbutton my pants just looking at this.

It's not a family holiday without some fun outdoor play.  Isabelle loves to show off her soccer skills!
The group gets a bit more extended each year.  The more the merrier!
I have loved watching this girl grow up.  Lauren was a 1 year old when I first met her.  So hard to believe she's this beautiful 14 year old!

Not quite the whole gang, but we'll take what we can get!

So as traditions go, we moved on after our first Thanksgiving meal to the next on at The Prudens!  Never a dull moment on holidays when you've got all your favorite peeps in town!
Leeora, 11 months old

Jamison, age 3

Family dinners aren't how they used to be!
Crockett doesn't get to come over for Thanksgiving, so we want to make sure she knows how thankful we are for her!


The minute after we stuff ourselves with 2 Thanksgiving meals is also when we start celebrating Christmas!  Gingerbread House art with the cousin sisterhood.
Christmas Season brings such joy and excitement!
Cute, happy, excited kids!

Decking the halls and making spirits bright.

Annual visit to the mall to see Santa. The real Santa sits at the mall all day.  (When do they realize that concept is totally bizarre!?  Santa is at his workshop in December, eating bon bons and fattening up!)  Happy, smiling faces this year in Santa's lap, which has not always been the case.  
Isabelle asked for a blue scooter and Collier for a lego train.  We'll see if their wishes come true...

In between the holiday rush and Christmas day, we must celebrate the birth of my very favorite boy of all!
Collier turns 5!!!

As usual, the go-to spot for a party at our house is in The Bakement!  It always works well since we can just move tables again the walls and let the kids make a mess down there.  I was so proud of my birthday banner and cool Lego set up...until I noticed the spelling error on the photo a few days later! Ha!  Oh well, 5 year olds can barely read so nobody (including adults) noticed.  
I covered big boxes in primary colored wrapping paper to create giant legos for building towers.  Of course the boys found ways to make it wild and violent.  Regardless of how they were used, they were a hit.
Thankfully there were clear skies so we turned them loose outside to run around and bounce.  Man, boys are a different breed.  It was my first "drop-off" party for Collier (meaning no parents stay!) which is always nice because you don't have to have your house looking perfect and you don't have to smile constantly and can yell at other peoples kids (haha, just kidding of course).  I'm realizing that we will always be capping parties off at 6 if we continue to have these at our house.  Boys are so WILD!

PUMC preschool buds: William, Beckett, James, Jud, Brendan, Henry
Crockett was excited to have friends over too.
The month is taken over by my cookie baking and decorating classes, but I managed to squeeze in a special little cake!
Cake time!

After an exhausting hour and a half, we had a short break.  Later that evening, I dared to invite family over for another celebration so the craziness continued!
Little man scored some major additions to his Lego collection.  And he powered through building them.  He can build legos like a pro - it is so impressive!

In years past (before kids!), December was the peaceful beginning of "off-season."  Not many cakes--maybe 1 or 2 weddings at most--and a time when I could put my feet up and have a moment.

But, as soon as I had kids, For Goodness Cakes stepped it up a notch during holidays.  Whether it opened up my eyes to more opportunities to involve kids in my job, or because the wedding cake side of the business was slowing down due to more competition, or because having kids is just expensive (especially during the holidays...and I needed more December income!), I do not really know the reason.   
Regardless of why, DECEMBER is cray-cray.

Tiffany and Kierra assisted me with my cookie classes throughout the month - so thankful to have them on my team!
So many sprinkles, so much royal icing.  SO MANY COOKIES!
But I still love it.
And we even had a moment as a family to decorate cookies together!!

Family dinners aren't like they used to be!  A whole lot more fun.
Santa's coming tonight!

Cramming in at the Tucks!  More people each year!
So many fabulous gifts....

Isabelle got herself some antlers!  Or jewelry hanging device?

Collier brought his train and pushed it in between people's feet.

All of the amazing vehicles built by Collier within a couple of weeks!

My wonderful in-laws celebrated 50 years of marriage!  

After many sleepless nights and endless conversation, we bit the bullet and got Collier back into swim lessons with Jonathan.  He had convinced himself that he would never be able to go underwater.  That it was just something he wouldn't ever do.  Lessons were so dreaded (by everyone).  He was paranoid about it.  He hated Jonathan and cried buckets of tears in the minutes waiting for his turn.  Jonathan (oh that patient, sweet soul!) would just walk over and pick him up and carry him to the pool.  One time Collier threw his goggles across the pool in anger.  I couldn't help but laugh during the charades but I was also very sad.  Sad that my persistent, determined (but fearful) child could devote so much time and energy in life to these antics and to being so stubborn!  What a sad waste of time.  

 It took several weeks, but Collier finally agreed to go under for Jonathan.  He was so freakin scared but ended up being so proud (as we all expected).   Now he asks to wear his goggles in the bath to practice going under.  By summer he was swimming in the deep-end like a champ and loving every minute.  Just like I knew he would.  

Yay for a winter snow day!  It was just enough for a day of sledding.  Beautiful powder.

Collier loves the snow just as much!

So proud of my sweet girl for this award and thankful that her teacher and classmates noted her wonderful trait. Definitely the best trait to have!
Surprise trip to Orland to LegoLand and Seaworld!  A wonderful long weekend getaway that was one for the books!

Kid in Lego heaven.
SO cool!

Visiting big sis at lunch for the last time before he's off to kindergarten!
Celebrating my 39th with these cutie pies.
Father -Daughter Dance
Ride with Brun on his forklift!

Classroom visits...great practice for Collier.  Sweetest big sis ever.
Game night with the Rayburns!

Future Self Day.  
Isabelle wants to be an artist.
Kids have been so tight.  They prefer to sleep in the same room.  And even in the same bed!!  How in the world is that comfortable!?


A special hunt for adults only...Norfleet got his Jack Daniels!

Spring Break: Litchfield with Granddaddy and Cici
Chilly water!!

Celebrating 75 years of Christ Church.  Honored to make the cake!  Such a challenge but so incredibly rewarding!
Another challenge in more ways than one.  
Collier so proud that he completed this Chicago skyline lego set (for ages 12 and up) with barely any help.  He is truly amazing.
Cutest twins ever.
Strawberry season!

Backyard Camping.  Started with s'mores.  
We tried!  A for Effort.  Collier is terribly allergic to pollen so poor kid couldn't breath.
Another great season on the REDS soccer team!

Little taste of summer in the spring.  Hot enough to turn the sprinkler on and get wet!

My little jazz dancer at yet another recital!
Brendan and Collier at their last day of preschool (boo hoo!!!).  
Isabelle's last day of school (portfolio sharing day). Cutest song they put together.  What a wonderful class!  Her second grade year goes down in the books as one of the best.
We love Mrs. Van Stratt!

Henry and Collier - goofballs
Off to Seabrook with the Rayburns.  5th (?) annual trip!

Chapel Hill for a wedding cake delivery and and a quick stop at the baseball field.
Father's Day.  Or maybe it should be "everyone but mom's day"
My little fish!  Heat winner in backstroke! Such a strong swimmer!  So proud.
 Riding Camp at Cedarhill.  Such a fun experience!  Izzy LOVES horses.
She rode Teddy in the show at the end and fell in love!!

Emily came to watch the show.  Walk down memory lane.

Happy 8th Birthday to my sweet love bug!  Another fun celebration at the beach.  Such a sweet and happy girl. I could not be more proud of her.

4th of July with the whole crew!

Long bike ride - well deserved ice cream

3rd summer of imagining camp.  Izzy was an adorable baby elephant.  So fun!

Izzy's first time at cakestravaganza camp in the bakement!  She LOVED it.  

One of my camp sessions.  Such a full summer and I was very exhausted by mid July but so much fun!
Dance and Karaoke Birthday Party!
Perfect party for my favorite little triple threat.


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