19 OctRIP Uncle John

John Huckestien
April 2, 1944 – October 19, 2020

The world lost another great man of faith this year while we mourn the lose here on earth we can celebrate uncle John went to be with his Savior and was able to hear the words, “well done my good and faithful servant”. Uncle John now lives in paradise as he has claimed his citizenship in heaven. The bible says in John 16:22 that we “have sorrow now, but (God) will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” Here on earth he was/is a beloved husband, father, brother, son, uncle, and friend and will be missed by all that were fortunate to know him. We pray God comforts each person mourning, gives each person a peace that transcends all understanding, and restores joy to their heart.  

Our little family was fortunate that uncle John and aunt Joy would stop by our house on their trips from Kentucky to Florida to visit their sons and family. We always loved hearing they were traveling through Alabama and was going to stop and would get to spend time with them. He was a strong man of faith and has left a great legacy within his three sons and beloved wife. In recent years alzheimer’s tried to steal his memories but there was always a love for people and joyful look in his eyes when we saw him. His mind is made anew now and he is waiting on the other side, with many other loved ones that have gone before him for each of us when our work on earth is done. Rest in peace uncle John, we will see you again when our job on earth is done and God calls us home. 

A few pictures from more recent visits
March 2020
February 2020

 January 2019


February 2018
March 2017

Sweet uncle John would not move and wake Ivy up when she feel asleep on him
Our last Thanksgiving in Gatlinburg we attended, Nov 2017 … you will be missed uncle John! 

Chris and Lisa were thankful we could attend the the wake and funeral to celebrate the life of uncle John with a small, limited number of family. The out pouring of friends and family to uncle John’s wife and sons has been amazing. The flowers were perfect for John, horse shoe of roses and a horse statue in the middle.
It was a beautiful day day! We spent most of it outside enjoying the nice weather and sweet fellowship together. Death is a reminder that time is both a gift and a thief, we should all spend it wisely … we choose to spend it with people we love to create memories that will last in the memories of those we love even if we are no longer physically present.

The boys went down the street to see Ed’s man cave and enjoy some bourbon, a Kentucky specialty, and toast in honor/memory of uncle John  



18 OctDD’s Delayed Birthday Celebration

Life has gotten busy with school starting back, afternoon activities, and unplanned chaos that we call life. Even though the house may be a little more disorganized than desired and everything is not put in its place we still are counting our blessing because we get to be together and spend time with friends and family. This weekend we were thankful that Grandpa and Deedee headed over to visit us for the weekend. We used this weekend to have a delayed celebration for DD’s birthday too.

Friday, Ivy missed school for testing so when Grandpa and DD arrived she was home for some one on one time with them. Lisa went to go pick up Leia shortly after they arrived then took Ivy to the eye doctor. That evening the little ladies had a birthday party Friday evening so we cashed in on the free night and had a adult dinner at “Farrelly’s Southern Restaurant”. It was the first time we had been but will not be the last. We were sat in a private little area and enjoyed a fabulous meal together and even better fellowship. Blessed we were able to get to have some time together to simply be together without any distractions. We headed to get the girls as soon as we paid the checks then back home where the girls played and we crashed on the couch watching the baseball playoffs. 

Leia and Ivy celebrated Ivy Bailey’s birthday with a movie night

We went out to celebrate DD’s birthday. Not sure when we will get use to the Covid style outings

Birthday celebration always need a candle to make a wish

It was a fabulous meal with even better company! 

Saturday, was a gorgeous day! We woke up early and got sweet snuggles before mommy and Deedee made breakfast together. Always fun to have co-chefs in the kitchen! As Deedee was finishing it up momma moved to getting Ivy’s girl scout sash together for the meeting she had mid-morning with Deedee while Grandpa went to the golf store. The troop meeting was very entertaining and Ivy earned a disability patch. Deedee said that Leia rode her bike, scooter, and they watched some TV too. 

Darrel had set up a craft while we were at the meeting for the girls too. They got to paint vases with alcohol paints. Deedee brought tons of colors to chose and the colors each little lady picked was exactly the colors we expected. They listed carefully and followed her directions. Neither of them wanted to keep the gloves on any longer than they had too so as soon as they finished the fun part the gloves came off and they skipped the clean up. The vases turned out beautiful! 

That afternoon Grandpa and daddy went golfing at Ross Bridge. AlexAnn came down to play with the girls since Wes joined the golf outing and Holly had an appointment. The girls played a little bit then we went to JoAnn’s for Deedee to pick up more paints and an online order. The little ladies got to pick out fabric to make a blanket too. I loved each of their choices. Alex picked out dogs, Leia picked out a pattern of an extra soft material, and Ivy picked out horses. When we got home Deedee went to the craft room with the girls to make the blankets while mommy headed upstairs to start cooking dinner. 

Once dinner was underway and simmering on the stovetop we all headed outside for a little fresh air. The neighbors made their way over and we had an impromptu gathering with kids and adults. When Chris and Grandpa arrived everyone was still here so they were able to visit a few minutes too. Mr Charlie mentioned that Elizabeth was out of town so we invited him and Tay to stay for dinner with us too.  They stayed and watched a few minutes of the game then he took Tay home for bed and we all changed into our comfy PJs to watch some of the Bama game but none of us could hold our eyes open to cheer them on to the end and decided to just figure out who won the next morning. 

 Girl Scout learning about service dogs

Craft time with DD

Enjoying the nice fall weather! 
Sewing with DD

Always fun to have a impromptu dinner with sweet neighbors

After dinner sister fun; mommy played the game too 

Sunday morning we all slept a little later than the Saturday morning. We planned on waking up to have our normally last day of Grandpa and DD here donuts and celebrating DD’s birthday with the girls. The morning was going just as planned, we snuggled on the couch then when Grandpa finished his coffee, he and Ivy headed to Shipleys to pick up the donuts. While they were gone the joyful mood turned as DD got a text that uncle John had taken a turn for the worse and was nearing death. We became distracted with the thoughts of what our Kentucky family was enduring or about to face and forgot to get the candle out or even give DD her gift. We did enjoy savor breakfast and the sweet time together. As we sat Ivy sensed something was off so we told the girls about uncle John. Ivy asked a couple questions then moved on from the discussion; I am sure she and Leia will come back to it but both needed time to process the initial shock. Chris played Tenzi with Ivy while Leia lost herself in a TV show after breakfast. Darrel called to talk to Joy then Grandpa and DD packed up to head home so DD could fly up to be with aunt Joy; the bond of a sister is strong. We will continue to pray for aunt Joy, Dan, Ricky, and Brian in the days ahead as they inevitable season of mourning is coming with the death of a beloved husband, father, and friend.

The rest of the day we spent most the day simply enjoying the beautiful day God had given us. Mommy was reflective of when we lost our Papa and heart broken for uncle John’s family and the flood of emotions they likely were about to endure. The thought that ‘time is a gift and a thief, be careful how you spend it’ keeps running through our minds. We chose to spend the time creating precious memories together. We are thankful for the last visit with uncle John and aunt Joy and the visits we had as they were passing through on their drives from FL to KY. We are thankful that we got to spend a fun, weekend with aunt Joy, uncle Dan and family last weekend. 

Sunday afternoon, Ivy went to the basketball evaluations so she could be placed on a team for the season. I pray she has fun and develops sweet friendships with her teammates. We went to dinner together then over to a sweet neighbors for fire-pit and s’mores time. It was great getting to spend some precious time with neighbors and friends too. We stayed later than we had planned but enjoyed the fellowship and memory that was made together. 

Sweet daddy playing with Ivy

Fire-pit + S’mores + friends = happiness

13 OctLong Weekend in KY

This year the girls got a 5 day break from school in October. We took advantage of it and decided to go to KY to see the Ark and visit our Huckestien family in KY. Friday morning the girls were so excited to be going they were up before 6am. We got on the road a little before 9 to make the 378 mile drive thru Tennessee and on to the northern part of Kentucky. We stopped on the way multiple times for restroom breaks but did grab lunch and gas on a couple stops. We arrived at Joys about 4 o’clock eastern time and all were happy to get out of the car.

Aunt Joy showed us around when we got there, where we would be sleeping, and the girls were excited to meet the cats/see Bento again. We all unpacked, relaxed, and the girls went on the first of many walks with Bento and the cats. Dan, Nancy, and Raina arrived after they got off work too. The little ladies hit it off and immediately started playing. The adults fellowshipped and figured it this November would be 3 years since we’d saw Dan and family. 

We enjoyed a night in as Aunt Joy made chicken and dumplings that evening for dinner. We all were able to gather around to enjoy it and each other’s company. We discussed the weekend plans and decided decided to to the Ark Saturday instead of Monday due to rain chances plus that way everyone could go together. We had debated letting all the girls stay together that evening but knew Saturday would be a long drive and we’d driven that say already Raina headed home while we headed to bed a little before 10 o’clock.

Travel day

We were all happy to reach aunt Joy’s house! 

We enjoyed dinner with Dan, Nancy, Raina at aunt Joy’s house

Saturday, we cooked biscuits, bacon, and eggs to energize us for the day. Dan and family arrived close to 10 and we loaded up to drive to Williamstown, KY to see the Ark. None of us knew exactly what to expect but we all were up for an adventure. As we arrived we noticed the parking more packed than we thought it’d be but the ticket line was quick and the bus ride to the ark was spacious as they had removed seats.

When we arrived we made a quick coffee and restroom break before making our way to the Ark. It was crowded inside. We may have gone a little quicker or opted to skip by a couple areas with the crowd but we enjoyed ourselves. It was interesting to see a visual of how Noah May have organized the Ark and lived for the 150 days with his family and the animals floating when God flooded the earth. Several exhibits were thought provoking on how Noah stored the animals and how God probably sent juveniles instead of full grown animals for storage purposes.  

The girls towards the end of the tour were getting tired of walking around the boat but enjoyed getting fudge in the gift shop on the way out. We started to grab lunch but decided against it with the lines so headed to the park for the girls to play a little bit. As we were leaving we were able to help a sweet little boy find his mom and dad who were totally unaware he had wondered from the play area and was upset, unable to find them. 

When we returned that afternoon, Raina stayed at Joy’s while Dan and Nancy headed home to cook. We did not see the girls much as they were playing except when they asked to walk Bento and the cats and we searched for them in the trees they climbed. We headed to Dan’s that evening to grill out steaks and see their new house. It was beautiful; you could see their styles come alive in the decor. We stayed there fellowshipping, watching the Bama game, and enjoying our sweet time until well close to 11 then we loaded up to head back to Joy’s and let the little ladies have a spend the night party. 

Mornign snuggles and fun at Joy’s 

Waiting on the bus to go up to the Ark

On the bus heading to the Ark

First view of the Ark


Leia in front of it for perspective

None of these little ladies have had parks to play at with the public parks in KY and AL being closed due to Covid so they enjoyed the time they had playing at a park

The girls had fun walking Joy’s cats and Bento

They also had fun climbing the trees behind Joy’s house

Their fun continued at Raina’s house

Yummy dinner at Dan and Nancy’s

Sunday, Chris and Dan took a little cousin time and went to Indiana to shoot clays. They decided that Chris should practice with Reed’s gun since Chris is going to use it at the end of the month on their hunting trip. Surprisingly, Chris beat Dan; Dan was having an off day or wanting to make Chris feel good. ;). The ladies hung out at Joy’s and took a R&R day. We did take the girls to Target shopping but other than that we let them simply enjoy being together and a low key day. 

Sunday evening, we went to a local place named, The Village Anchor. We enjoyed a nice meal together again then Dan, Nancy, and Raina came back to Joy’s to let the girls play a little longer and fellowship. We certainly do not need to go as long between visits with them next time. We said our goodbyes to Nancy and Raina since they had work and school on Monday and we would not get to see them again this trip. It was a early bed time for all as the night before the girls had not rested enough. 

Quick morning pic of the boys before their shooting fun and the girls headed out to walk Bento

The boy’s shooting fun

The girls enjoyed playing with their new toys they got at Target

Afternoon walk

Waiting for dinner watching the never ending train

Monday morning was the morning our girls were not ready to come since it was the day we had to travel back home. The adults sipped on coffee that morning, the girls got to take Bento on one last walk, and Ivy got to climb the tree before we loaded up the car and said our goodbyes to Bento and the cats. We had decided to take our horse loving girls to Churchhill Downs since we were so close to it. We arrived there right as they were putting the horses up for the day so we did not get to see the horses but we did a walking tour of the facility, went through the museum, and watched a video about the Kentucky Derby. 

We learned that the Kentucky Derby has their own winner circle; all other races there use a separate winners circle. The Derby also has 20 horses in the race while all other races have 14 horses. To qualify for the Derby “back in day” it was simply whoever made the most money. Now there is a point system and races closer to Derby Day are normally worth more points. Horses have to be at least 3 years old to race and you determine age by the calendar date January 1st; every January a horse turns a year older. All bets have to be made in cash. On a race weekend 80 to 85 million are brought into the stands by the guests. Winners of the Derby get 3 things: a trophy, a blanket of roses, and $1.86M (10% to jockey, 10% to trainer). The race has only been postponed twice in its history. The first time was in 1945 due to WWII, the government placed a ban on horse racing because too many resources like gas would be used to transport the horses; it was ran on June of 1945. The second time it was postponed was this year, 2020 due to COVID; it was ran in September but had limited number of people in attendance.

After we did our tour and learned about the Derby we let the girls pick something out to remember their trip. Ivy picked out a jacket while Leia was having a hard time and decided she just wanted a chocolate horse coin. We grabbed a horse ornament too as a longer keep sake. It was time to meet Dan and Joy at Yankee Noodle. Ivy was particularly excited to go to Dan’s restaurant. It was delicious just as we expected. We lingered over the meal and enjoyed the sweet fellowship before having to say our goodbyes to Dan and Joy to start our journey home. 

Ivy wanted to climb the tree one more time before we left so we went out in the misting rain to let her

The girls said good bye to Bento and the cats

We could not make a trip to KY without stopping by Churchhill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is ran with our horse loving

Of course a chocolate horse coin was the souvenir our girls picked

Sweet Leia set up a spa for mommy since she knew her back was hurting from the drive when we got home. She speaks mommy’s love language well. We are so blessed to have her sweet, thoughtful heart in our family! 

Tuesday, was a R&R morning for the girls! Daddy had to work. Mommy went to the dentist since her mouth started hurting Friday. Thankfully the dentist said a prescription would do the trick. Mimi came over midday and we went to lunch and enjoyed some sweet time together. Chris took the girls to horse riding that afternoon since he had conference calls and could sit in the car on them while Lisa got things ready for the work and school week ahead. So thankful for the few extra days out of school where we could focus on being together and create some sweet memories. 

07 OctSeptember 2020 Wrap-Up and Start of October

So proud of our smart, sweet girls! Leia’s class worked on an engineering project where they built a structure from index cards that had to support different objects in the class room and be a certain height. She was beaming when mommy picked her up since her group (all girls) built the tallest structure that held all the objects it was suppose too. Sweet Ivy has been practicing her cursive in her morning reading group and voluntarily practicing her letters and writing sentences with the letters she has learned thus far. These two little ladies brighten up our world; excited to see what the future holds for them. Praying they both always have the joy in their hearts they have right now. Mommy and Daddy love them so much!!!!!!!! 

Date Day for Chris and Lisa …working from home has its challenges and advantages. One of the advantages is when you are just not being productive and struggling to focus you can take a long lunch and work a little later and enjoy sweet time with your spouse. Chris bought Lisa a gun recently and has had one himself so Chris got a membership at the gun range nearby and we took advantage of it to go shoot/let Chris teach Lisa how to operate her gun. I would say neither of us were bad shots ;). Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch together. Love spending time together just us to reconnect and have fun together! 

As we were putting the girls to bed Ivy discovered she had a loose tooth, a very loose tooth. She could not go to sleep thinking about it so after a little bit she wiggled it out so everyone could go to bed and the tooth fairy could come (Wednesday, Sept 16, 2020)

One of our sweet family traditions is to have a “Family Fun Friday Night” every other week through out the school year. The school year is normally jam packed and we just don’t get as much precious time together. We do not always take a picture or even blog about it but oh how I pray this time and tradition will continue as our girls get older. Every other week the girls get to help plan what we will do from dinner to entertainment. Some weeks it is dinner in, others it is out or snack food for dinner; some weeks it is game nights, others it movie times or going out to do something special. Momma and dad just enjoys seeing the smiles and spending precious time with our sweet girls

Evening snuggles and entertainment during our family movie night

Ivy has been doing a before school reading program so we have been leaving a few minutes before 7 to get to school. On the mornings that the early reading program is cancelled and we get 30 or 40 extra minutes at home in the morning we take advantage of it! Breakfast on the porch before school on the nice, autumn morning in the middle of the week … I’ll take the extra blessing to spend a few extra minutes with our little family on Wednesday, September 23rd or anytime we can get it. 

Wednesday afternoon the girls both got to have play time with friends. Ivy went home with Evelyn and to swim in her Mimi’s heated pool. Mommy neglected to get a picture of Leia and Eliza here playing but we stopped by Roll Up on the way to our house then pushed each other in the rope swing, played in the playroom and rounded the end of their fun time doing homework together on the porch that was due the next day. Later that evening Chris got to go to Mexican with the girls and Talley boys while Lisa had cousin dinner at our Mimi’s, again we neglected getting a picture. Leia was excited that their barbie set they ordered arrived though

Friday evening, Mimi took Leia to the 5th grade social, “Mass Chaos” at church and spent some sweet one on one time with Ivy going to dinner at Waffle House and shopping. Then she took our girlies back to her house to spend the night since Chris and Lisa went on a double date with Holly and Wes to Tre Luna

Mimi let the girls go shopping Saturday morning too

How Chris watched the first week of college football starting back

The girls enjoyed sundaes on Sunday and invited friends to the house to play


Tuesday afternoon was another day at the barn

First Friday in October, the 2nd was a family fun night … puzzles and playtime for the whoel family

Sunday morning it was finally cool enough to use our fire column so we took advantage and had smores for breakfast

Back a the barn the first Tuesday in October. These girls love doing anything at the barn

Ivy also started basketball too. 

16 SepHorses … Leia and Ivy’s Life Plan

Leia and Ivy are continuing to love horses! Their new life plan is for daddy and mommy to buy a lot of land and us build a big house for all of us to live together then when they get older they will build a barn and we can all live on the land and have a horse farm. The plan sounds pretty good to momma but if the girls change their tune later and we started acting on it we would be stuck with it so we told them we would hold off a little bit until we were sure that was their life plan despite they are very passionately telling us the plan will not change and that all they want is a couple horses each. Not sure how many kids plans do not change from the time they are 9 and 10 so we are not acting on their plan but in the meantime we are enjoying watching them learn more about horses, how to ride and how to take care of them in case their life plan does not change. 



13 SepRequena-Comfort’s Visit

Diego and Kelly had come to visit us in January this year and we saw them Utah in February before the COVID pandemic hit the world then we got to see them when we went to Newnan to celebrate Grandpa and Deedee’s anniversary but we have not gotten to hang out as much as we have wanted after they returned from Spain. We were excited when they asked about coming to visit us this weekend for a few hours Sunday and celebrate Ivy’s birthday with us. We opted to go to Mimi’s so we had the pool to cool off incase they did not want to come in our house as they have been social distancing more than we have in recent weeks and wanted to make sure there was no pressure if that was what they felt was best for their family as we all are navigating these waters and each of our comfort levels during the pandemic.

All the adults sat in the swings catching up as we let the appetizers finish cooking then Diego and Kelly joined the kids in the pool while Lisa plated the aps to take down too. Kids and adults got some snacks and then Chris, Diego, and Sara went inside to watch the Dolphin game together. Mimi, Lisa, and Kelly transitioned to the porch and simply fellowshipped together and caught up on what was going on with each of us. The kids went between swimming, the trampoline, and golf-cart having fun and laughing together. We did not get many pictures as we were all just enjoying being together but were so thankful for the time we had together and enjoyed every second of it!  

Sunday evening we spent it chilling out at home. Ivy decided to bring Buddy out to enjoy some time in the grass and drew a little crowd. Thankful for sweet neighbors and Ivy’s welcoming spirit 

12 SepWald Park Pool

Our city has been renovating a city center for over a year. The girls have been watching the progress from the school lunchroom when they were at school and trying to see what was going on from the road school was not in session. This month the city pool was finally opened back up over Labor Day weekend. Per the girls last week, a lot of their friends went to check it out and said it was awesome. This weekend mommy took the girls to experience it as well. There were not nearly as many kids as the weekend before from what other parents said but they had a good time and it was nice to see where some of our tax dollars are going to in the city. For the remainder of September it is free for residents to get into it on the weekends so we will likely check it out again so the girls can swim and play with friends. There is a small splash pad area, zero entry pool, and fabulous lap pool completed in the area; now we just want the park finished so recess at school can spread back out too. It will be a great asset to the community along with the dog park and ball fields that are being constructed when it is all completed. 


11 SepIvy Birthday Continued

We debated a party this year with all the happenings and craziness in the world. In the end, we decided to do a small celebration at Mimi’s pool since Ivy said pool parities were her tradition. Mommy and Mrs Holly drove the littles to Mimi’s; thankful Holly wanted to come to the first part of the party since I was 1 seat short in my car. Mimi was ready for us when we arrived. We all watched them swim before Mimi put the meat on the grille. Everyone got full bellies with the yummy food and sweet treat then Mrs Holly left since Lisa had enough room in the car to transport everyone going home back to Vestavia. The girls walked back down to the pool to swim off the sugar and let Ivy open her gifts before Lisa took our friends home. We pared the guest list down significantly then normal this year and even had one cancel last minute but the small crowd had BIG fun. 

Ivy’s official birthday party site

Oh what fun this little crew had

Thankful Mimi is always willing to lend a helping hand and grilled for us tonight 

The kids are getting older, dinner choice was BBQ chicken 

Ivy got one more birthday wish too

This little monkey loves to open presents 
More fun in the pool before we took everyone home

10 SepNeighbor Gathering

Love me some front porch living! While we were out side watching the girls enjoy time on the swing before the first NFL game of the season started neighbors congregating and before we knew it we had a crew over to watch the first NFL game of the season and able to enjoy dinner together. Thankful for spontaneous nights of fun!

Sweet Leia also worked on her physics and made dominos out of the Jenga pieces, entertaining to all

09 SepIvy’s 9th Birthday … Her Golden Birthday

It seems like yesterday we were waiting on Ivy’s arrival and this year is the last year she will be in the single digit. She will be half way to 18 which is the legal age where she is considered an adult. It does not seem possible that she is this big; time is so quick. Our little girl is growing into a beautiful young lady. Lord, may you guide and lead her all the days of her life. Teach us how to be the momma and dad she needs us to be and share the love you give us with her so she will grow to know you as her Lord and Savior too. 

Ivy had to go to school on her birthday but mommy was up early to make sure her birthday breakfast order was prepared per her request. We got to enjoy a family breakfast and Ivy opened up gifts before the 7:15 drop off. Mimi came over that morning to help prep dinner then we checked the girls out just before lunch so they could have a special birthday lunch and fund afternoon. Grandpa and Deedee arrived at our house not long after we got back from picking up lunch too. Of course, Ivy wanted to open her gifts as soon as lunch was over. Love to see her enthusiasm opening surprises. As soon as she was done, Leia and the birthday girl was off to play. Mimi picked up Sara and Katie who joined in on the fun once they got out of school too. We all hung around the house the rest of the day simply enjoying the day together. Mark arrived when he got off as we were pulling dinner out of the oven. We all enjoyed dinner and dessert before Stacy finally made it from work just in time for the kids to do the piñata. It was getting late for a school night so Mimi and the Rhoads headed home. After baths there was just enough time for two quick games of Jenga (Ivy’s request) before the girls headed to bed and Ivy’s day of celebration came to an end. 

Leia and mommy decorated while daddy and Ivy played fortnight the night before her birthday. Ivy loved playing with daddy and discovering her decorations. Love her zest for life and joyful spirit

As we tucked her in we took our last selfie with our 8 year old and picture of her holding up 8; she is so excited to be turning 9

Birthday morning
Breakfast to order with a candle to wish … we hope you birthday wish comes true
Right after breakfast Ivy wanted to open presents

Ivy got her 9 gifts for 9 years

technically there was 10 gifts since Leia and Ivy shared one too

School then lunch and opening gifts from Mimi, Deedee & Grandpa

Dance party on the hoverboard

Birthday girl with the best Mimi, Deedee, and grandpa in the world
Buddy joined in the celebration too
Not sure how Ivy got them to hold this sign but she did

Fun times with cousins when they arrived

Yummy birthday dinner

Thank you Deedee for making her cake

Singing happy birthday 

Piñata fun to end the day of celebration