Thursday, August 29, 2013

Welcome Wyatt Campbell!

Well on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 we welcomed another sweet, adorable love-bug into our family. Wyatt Campbell Larson was born at 2:19 p.m., weighing in at 7 lbs, 6oz and 20.5" long in Atlanta, GA. He has less hair than James did, but you can certainly tell they are brothers.

Jimmy and I are beyond blessed and amazed at how quickly our hearts grew in size the moment we looked into Wyatt's sweet (blue) eyes. :)

The past week and two days have FLOWN by, but the transition form one to two chillin' was made a LOT easier thanks to our amazing parents (the boys' grandparents). A special and huge thank you to Cheryl and Chuck for taking James to "Camp Meme Papa" while we got situated at home with Wyatt... And another special and huge thank you to my mom and dad for staying with Jimmy and I the past week. For the past 7 days we have not had to fix one meal, clean one dish or wash a single article of clothing.... Yes, we have amazing parents and Jimmy and I are very, very thankful and hope to repay the favor to James and Wyatt and their future families one day (jumping the gun? maybe... but note to future James and Wyatt -- your mother would appreciate becoming a grandmother at some point in her life - haha!).

Here are some pics of our little man... We are so in love with BOTH our boys, and thankful that God chose Jimmy and I to raise them!!! :)

A couple days before I delivered... James and I snuggled on the couch... (Mommy - ready to go!)

So... I did it. I never thought I would. Belly shot of Wyatt... A headless selfie. 

Checked in the hospital at 12:45 a.m. (ish)... I was all smiles then... but gosh - not for long! LOL

In labor - on my side... 

The daddy of two to be!

The moment I met Wyatt... Yes, I am crying :)

Wiping my little bambino down...

Sweet cheeks :)

Jimmy thought this was just too funny :) lol

After being weighed, bathed, measured, poked, prodded, etc... And still - cool as a pickle. :)

Nana and Pop came in to meet grandchild # 9! 

The next day Meme and Papa brought J-man in to meet his baby brother... 

Meme and Papa with James and Wyatt

First family photo of four! Not the greatest -- but we got time to get a better one :)

James "needed to hold him" right when he met him... (He's taking his "big bro" status very seriously!)

He about SNATCHED Wyatt out of Jimmy's arms. 

Laying with mommy in bed :)

Snuggling with daddy in the hospital...

Welcome home!!!

First nap in his bed :)

Aunt Feefee came to meet and snuggle with Wy-man!

Ian, Britine and Maren even made a visit to meet him! 

Nana was AMAZING... I would be lying if I didn't say some (or LOTS) of tears were shed when she left... Living 2.5 hours away is quite different than 10 minutes. Oh well. At least it is just a car drive away. Gotta focus on the positive!

Getting situated at home :)

Sweet dada and the youngest!

Me and my little boys...

James loves "rocking" Wyatt. (Yes, I realize my job other than making sure Wyatt is fed, clean and well rested is to protect him from a super busy, super excited big brother! He means well, but man oh man... James is going to keep me on my toes!

This chair/rocker... Is AMAZING. It's paid for itself 10-fold.

My little helper.... Always wanting to help.... :) always... 

Saying goodbye to Nana and Pop :(

Tonight was USC football 2013 kickoff!

This daddy was super duper excited to watch with his boys (all decked out in Carolina gear)

One week photo-shoot with the infamous blue bear form James' pics:

"Seriously Mom?! ... We're doing this?"

"No more. I'm tired."


"Will this make you happy?"

Yes, little man. :) 

Here's to life getting just a little crazier... a little sweeter.... and a whole lot better. I'm loving life with two sweet little munchkins, an amazing-wonderfully-awesome husband and a wild little puppy dog. Life is so good. :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Heaven's New Angel

In June we lost a very special person to our family. "Ma" - my grandmother, James' great-grandmother, Dad's mama -  her time on Earth came to an end, and although we were all deeply sadden by her passing, we were all happy for her as we know she is reunited with all of her very best friends and our Pop and Adeline (my great-grandmother, her mother) who have been waiting for her for some time up in heaven. 

Ma, you were a very special woman. You lead by example in every way possible, and I will forever be grateful for all the amazing things you taught me over the years. You never let ANYTHING slow you down. Before you had your stroke you were always doing everything for anyone who would let you. You never once complained about getting old, or any aches and pains. You always made the most of EVERYTHING and I hope I will be doing the same as I age.

I will cherish the memories we have from making s'mores in Fountain Inn, going swimming and looking for sand dollars at Fripp to my very first airplane ride to California when I was really young to our "girls trip" to New York after I graduated high school. 

I will forever love you Ma, and I'm so thankful that James was able to know you for the two years he did. We enjoyed visiting you at the Cascades and playing with all your "toys" in your room :). Hope you are having fun playing bridge, dancing with pop and telling stories to everyone in heaven. 

Below are a few pictures from the past couple years, Gigi's amazing eulogy that she delivered graveside the day of her burial and Ma's obituary. 

Gigi's Eulogy for Ma (it was delivered perfectly - thanks again Gigi):

My mother was a world class teacher. Although she was a trained educator - her greatest lessons were not academic - they were practical lesson taught by her example. She possessed an amazing work ethic. Over the years, we have heard countless times “I would never have gotten through school if it had not been for our mother.” After retiring from over 30 years in teaching, she began a new career - as a project manager for our many renovation projects - as Cboy’s manager and driver - as an organizer of trips to Fripp Island with her dear friends, organizer of bridge games and events for her grandchildren. Quite simply, she could do everything.

From these examples, she taught us the value in hard work. She also taught us the value of a dollar. Known for being frugal, she shopped constantly for bargains. Sometimes she couldn’t pass up a really good deal - whether she needed it or not. Someone could use it one day. Growing up if Hunter or Jimmy needed a new pair of shoes, they could go to the attic and choose from the rack she had set up for shoes. There still remains a pair of size 14 they never grew into - if anyone can use them, she would love nothing more than to find them a home. Unfortunately, Jimmy and I learned this lesson a little too well and our attics/garages reflect our treasure hunting bargains.

Momma was also very demanding - she worked hard and expected the same. She was famous for saying “Just 1 more thing I want you to look at before you go” Inevitably this would involve another hour or 2 of working at her direction. Hunter learned this lesson a little too well. He has caught himself saying these exact words to his children. She adored her grandchildren and they carry on some of her best traits: HUNTER - you can do it all, just like Ma and we depend upon you for so much. CRAIG - you fiercely love your children and constantly provide them with adventures - just like Hunter, Jimmy and I experienced when we were young. FRAN - you have Ma’s sense of style and sassiness. NANCY - you love the country and this area where Ma grew up and you have her talent for the good bargains. CAM - you are decisive and organized, you can plan a party like no one else. She loved each of you and also the spouses you chose. 

Momma taught us to face adversity and life “head on”. Long before the phrase “keep calm and carry on” became popular, her practical mantra was “MOVE ON” she was not one to waller in self pity or doubt. Momma fell and broke her foot at the Cascades a little over a year ago. When Richard Dubose, her favorite therapist, went on and on telling her how sorry he was. She looked him straight in the eyes and even though her speech was very limited she very clearly said “MOVE ON.” Move on meant accepting what had happened and then going forward by working hard with a positive attitude. And she moved on with an unending positive attitude - and she expected the same from us.

Perhaps the most intense emotion everyone shares is “LOSS”. Momma taught by example how to handle loss. She suffered many losses - the loss of her parents, the loss of my father, the loss of her mobility and speech, and the loss of many of her dearest friends. Through all of theses life changing events she showed graciousness, dignity, humor and perseverance. Always acknowledging the loss but then “moving on” - and she expected the same.She taught us the value of friendship. For over 30 years, she met a group of her Furman classmates for lunch every month. She showed how much she cared in good and bad times by just being PRESENT. 

Momma - Thursday night, I watched as Hunter, III, your 1st grandchild, held your hand and with such strength and courage told you he was a better person because of all you taught him. I hope that we have learned your lessons well and know that we are all better people and the people we are today because of all the things you have taught us and the example you have been to us. We will always love and remember you and then MOVE on. Move on as better children, better grandchildren and friends. 

Ma's obituary: 

Jean Garrison Howard, 86, died Saturday, June 8, 2013, at the Cascades in Greenville after three years of declining health following a stroke. She was born in Piedmont, daughter of the late Leland and Adeline Griffin Garrison. She was predeceased by her husband of 54 years Samuel Hunter Howard. 

She is survived by her children Hunter and Martha Howard of Simpsonville, Jimmy Howard of Seneca, and Jeanne Howard of Greenville; five grandchildren and their spouses, Hunter and Joy Howard of Greenville, Craig and Tricia Howard of Columbia, Fran and David Cook of Columbia, Cam and Jimmy Larson of Atlanta, Georgia, and Nancy and Aaron Lucas of Piedmont; and eight great grandchildren, Gracie, Adeline and Hunt Howard, Hamilton, Zan and Hugh Howard, Ellie Cook, and James Larson. 

Mrs. Howard was a 1948 graduate of Greenville Woman’s College (later Furman University) and received her master’s in counseling from the University of Georgia. She was a longtime educator and retired as a guidance counselor at Bryson Middle School in Simpsonville. Jean was a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an honorary sorority for women educators. A member of Fountain Inn First Baptist Church, she was active in the Sara Patterson Sunday School Class.

Jean loved her family, the beach, playing bridge and her friends. In addition to being a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she will be remembered as a loyal friend, devoted spouse and a tireless worker for anyone with a need. 

The family will receive friends on Sunday, June 9, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home, 313 N. Main Street, Simpsonville. 

Fourth of July Family Fun

So never in a million years did I think the beach bum Howards would turn to "mountain folk" - but - we certainly are! Mom and Dad bought a run down, gross house up in Chimney Rock that EVERYONE... and I mean EVERYONE was a little worried about them purchasing.... But leave it to professional flippers, Martha B. and Hunnaaa, to do WONDERS! I keep telling them they need to submit photos to Southern Living on the dramatic transformation, but they, of course, keep laughing it off.

Thanks to Mom and Dad's hard work we have a house that is BARELY big enough to house all Howard kids, grandkids and parents! What an awesome time we have every time we go. We are all looking forward to Thanksgiving when we can all stay together in one big ol' house. This fourth of July we almost had the whole Howard crew there, but Craig and Tricia and their family were with Tricia's family for their annual beach trip. Although we missed them terribly - it makes Thanksgiving that much more enticing to look forward to!

Although it was an EXTREMELY wet weekend... We managed to have an absolute blast. Enjoy pics from our time:

It was a rainy, wet weekend... As soon as it would get dry we'd pack everyone up and head outside!
Here's a pic right in the middle of storms of us trying to get some boat time in... Look at those clouds!

Anddddddd.... as soon as we pulled off the dock - BAM! the bottom dropped out. 

These got a little out of order... but here is our knight in shining armor -- poor Jimbo got out in the pouring, and I mean POURING rain to tie us back up to the dock! Love you, Jimmers!!

The girls managed to stay dry under the covering...

The guys... not so much.... We figured they worked for their refreshing brew-ha-ha's...

Hunter ran to the car in the rain to grab -- in James' words -- "umbrella-la-las" for all the ladies...
And, I gotta share - on this particular boat trip - Fran and I found out we still got "it." Although we were both pregnant, huddled under a towel, walking slower than molasses to get to the car... A man who would probably fall under the classification of the color... "red"... yelled out, "Oh, don't worry lad'iesss... I don' thank sugaaa can melttttttt.... hah. hah." ...... EW. :) But hey - we still have it! hahaha.....

Hard to believe this sweet little angel used to take one look at Jimbo and start balling crying. I think we've come a long way. :) 

Almost the whole Howard clan... Daddy-o is taking this pic, and Craig and Tricia and their fam were at the beach, but don't you worry.... Hopefully - if sweet Caroline decides to cooperate this Thanksgiving, we should be able to get the whole crew in one photo!

It is funny how all the kids are looking any where but the same place - but look at poor sweet Ellie.... :) 
"Bless her heartttttttt!"

Hunter, Jr. & Hunter, IV - sweetness!

Goodbye "bear hugs" for the girls from Uncle Jimbodia! 

Last day boat rides... Pop and Jimbo had the same baithing suit on (compliments of Gigi!)... We tried to take a picture... Jimmy and Pop decided to be "cute" with their posing... James does not look impressed (look inbetween the silly Pop and Jimbo)...

James got to be a very good little captain, with Daddy's help! :)

Dad named their new boat "All 4 Kids" - which he says because it all is... for all four of us. How sweet is that?

James would only sit still on the boat with Nana... Which I just ate up. It is nice to be hands free for a minute and just soak up the sun! (Thanks Nana!! :)

His other favorite boat companion? Ellie girl - pure sweetness!

Daddy-son shot!

Jimbo posing with the clouds!

Fran, Ellie and sweet Caroline (in utero!)

... and YES. Fran and I were adorned with matching maternity bathing suits. Fortunately for Fran - I was filling mine out WAY more than she was (yes, it is just one little boy in there - ha!). 

James actually did fairly well restrained on the boat... With lots of goldfish and juice boxes to distract him! 

We were just one corny family... Fran and I matching... Dad and Jimbo, matching. If only David had also worn his bathing suit! (Gigi got all the guys the same bathing suit. Perhaps next summer we will get a Fripp pic of all the boys wearing matching suits, haha....)


Me and my bug-a-boo enjoying a rare treat - a juicebox!

Another pic of  us posing with the boat and the sign... And sorry Craig and Hunter... Looks like you've been replaced by Jimmy and David... These are the favorite four! waaaah - wahhhhh

A great time, amazing memories -- can't wait until the next trip! Love all my Howards :)