Whew! 2018 you were slam jam full!
I don’t usually take the time to do a year in review like Whitney always does. However, it is a completely wonderful idea and valuable in so many ways. So this year I jumped on board and followed suit. Not only has it given me great joy to go back through the THOUSANDS of photos on my phone that never get printed (literally I have worked on this for a month), but it has reminded me of all the good and all the bad of this year. Even on our worst day, we live an incredibly blessed life. As I type this, I am listening to Lauren Daigle (if you don’t know her…find her and listen) sing the song “Love like this.” The chorus line is,
What have I done to deserve love like this?
I can not earn what you so freely give.
What have I done to deserve love like this?
I’m not trying to portray a perfect Instagram/Blog life…we have been far from perfect this year…but going back through has given me perspective to know that 2018 was a gift that I will forever be grateful for…so without further ado…
(DISCLAIMER – You need not read every word, this is mostly for our family and for posterity sake. But there are some pretty cute photos and the monthly blurbs describe the photos.)
We started off 2018 with a Christmas/New Year’s trip to Florida where we hit Disney World, LegoLand, and SeaWorld with my family. It was so much fun and complete chaos. My sweet parents and Whitney and Duane helped us handle the logistics. We had one adult per child! The best part of the whole trip was seeing Disney World through the eyes of my mother who had never been able to go. It was truly magical. We also celebrated my 38th birthday in Clearwater, FL and Whitney did my makeup and we went out to eat at EE Steakout Grill. Loved it! On the way home, stopping in Montgomery Matt took me out to one of my favs in Auburn called Acre. Was a wonderful birthday, indeed! Our #CollinsChristmasChaos was wonderful and we had a LOT of togetherness. The kids were playing hockey in my kitchen by the end of the break and I was super ready for school to start. We had a small dusting of snow which the kids loved and we celebrated many January birthdays including my SIL Brooke, MIL Gail, niece Olivia, and my dad. January wore us out before the year had even started.
We usually try to keep February a low profile month. Henry took his entrance exam for Kindergarten and came out proclaiming that he had “nailed it.” We celebrated Muffins with Mom at Covenant Preschool which is one of my favorite things they do. We get to spend the morning with our littles and see all the artwork they have been working on. Soccer started back for Henry. The girls had their first trip to the dentist – we love Dr. Tiffany. We also took a trip up to see Mimi and DaDaddy in Oxford.
March brought the beginning of many wonderful things. Our surprise baby niece, Camille June Collins, was born. She so perfectly completes our little Collins extended family. She is the missing piece we didn’t know we were missing. Every Spring Break we decide to take a “Staycation” in Montgomery. The kids got to go to Birmingham and Atlanta for hockey games (Henry’s first one) and Lego Discovery. We celebrated our incredible friend, Kim Traff, on her 10th anniversary of Montgomery’s premiere magazine RSVP. Whitney met us and we had a photo shoot for what would become FPFM that we announced in April. We began Spring/Easter celebrations, AND Moana entered our world and became the girls’s movie of choice…every. day.
April was a doozy. We worshiped Jesus on Easter. Henry turned 5 years old. The girls attended their first Princess Tea. Baseball began for the boys and it was Henry’s first year to play. Matt and I traveled to Destin, FL for the Newk’s Corporate Conference where Matt was once again voted on the FAC (the Council that helps mediate between Franchisees and Corporate – such a big honor). We had our annual Cousin Fun Day when the kids were out of school. We started a new family tradition of BackPorch Family Movie Night. Whitney and I took a huge leap and launched Front Porch Frame of Mind. In the middle of all of this, our dad had a heart attack and we dropped it all to run be with our family. We are so thankful the Lord spared him and gave us more time with him. He was literally walking into the hospital to visit a church member when he felt it happen. Totally a God thing. They live so far out in the country that we aren’t sure he would have been able to make it to help.
May feels about like January to me…it’s always super jam packed with STUFF! School is ending which brings on a myriad of parties and events like field day. Our favorite headmaster, Mr. Herring, retired after 30+ years. It was a super sad goodbye. Henry “graduated” from Covenant Preschool and I cried as he hugged everyone there goodbye. Golf and Baseball are in full swing. Wil Franklin’s baseball team made the finals. Wil Franklin had his first acting part in our church’s spring children’s program. We celebrated Whitney’s birthday and had Henry’s joint 5th birthday party with his bestie of all time, Simmons. Matt and I celebrated 16 years of marriage. We got up early and donned our fascinators to watch the Royal Wedding. Henry had to have a minor dental procedure that required him to go under anesthesia – “drunk” 5 year olds are super hilarious. We took our annual Collins Family Beach Trip on Memorial Day weekend and had so much fun with all the cousins. We ended the month at a Dave Matthews concert in Brandon, MS at the new amphitheater with some of our besties, Dema and Courtney Sushenia. It has become a little bit of a tradition for Matt and Dema to go to Dave Matthews concerts…however, I learned I am too old for a mosh pit. Just saying.
We love when June comes…lazy days by the pool are some of our favorites. This year all four of our kids were true water babies. The picture of all four of them having a deep conversation on the splash pad is one of my favorite pictures of all time! Wil Franklin had a busy month as Summer Swim Team began and he swam with the Country Club of Jackson Sharks. He also played in one of his first big golf tournaments the Future Tour Championship at the Greenville Country Club and placed 6th. One of his goals all spring was to qualify and then be invited to play in the Future Master’s Golf Tournament in Dothan, AL. It’s a really big deal and kids come from all over the world to play in it. He did qualify, get invited, and was able to play. We were so proud of him! It was summer break, so it was only fitting for me to break something…this year it was my foot. It wasn’t bad but did require a boot for several weeks. Whitney and I got to do a wedding together which is always fun. We celebrated the 29th Annual Robertson Family Cabins at Jellystone in Pelahatchie with 80+ family members there. We ended that week with a big surprise 40th birthday party for my cousin, Danielle, that I got to help plan. It was so fun to celebrate someone so special. And then, June was when our beloved Tom Cox had a stroke out of nowhere. He was our family, friend, and VP of operations with Newks. We were devastated.
July began as a blur. Tom passed away and we celebrated his incredible life at one of the most endearing funerals I have ever been to. Tom’s brothers and loved ones (including my father in law) had the entire room laughing with stories. Tom was one of a kind and he is so greatly missed. You can read another post I wrote about him here if you would like. We tried to celebrate the Fourth of July at the beach. I’m so grateful for Mimi and DaDaddy for coming and helping us as Matt had to figure out a new normal without Tom. We decided to spend the entire month of July in Montgomery. Matt needed to be present for all of our Newk’s family and we wanted to be with him while he did that. Gigi and Papa took all the big kids on a week trip to LegoLand and our boys loved it. The girls got to go to the zoo and they thought that was just as good! Despite Matt’s long hours, we did get to spend a few days with our friends at their house on Lake Martin. It was a wonderful weekend getaway of boats, pools, lots of kids, and golf cart rides. We spent many days at the pool while Matt worked and became expert sidewalk chalk artists. We also got to see Annie at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Whitney and I got to sneak away for a long weekend to NYC for our cousin Sasha’s wedding to Cicek. It was so much fun! You can see more of our NYC post here and here. Despite all our time in Montgomery, Wil Franklin still went on to place in the top 10 in the city at his first City Swim Meet in Jackson. He was also awarded his team’s Most Improved Swimmer award. We ended the month with Wil Franklin winning his division champion at the MS Jr Golf Association tournament at Patrick Farms.
It was quite an adjustment to get back in the swing of things since we had been gone for over a month, but it was nice to be home. We threw ourselves into getting ready for school. Henry got his uniforms. Everyone got haircuts. Our sweet baby Camille was baptized. Everyone had their first day of school – Henry to Kindergarten, Wil Franklin to Fourth Grade, and the girls to Preschool. Henry got to go with the big boys to his first Saints game in New Orleans. We celebrated Matt’s 39th birthday. Fall soccer began again. The girls watch Beauty & the Beast at least 75 times a week. And Matt and I took a work trip to Ruston, LA for a Newk’s meeting, but I got to see my friend Travis and his shop the Chartreuse Pear. Love!!
For a little over a year now, I have been following this incredible GirlBoss on Instagram. She is a wife, mom, and business owner who designed her own clothing line, Buru, for moms…I love her and her clothing. Check her out here. I was over the moon when she responded to me on social media and we set up a plan for her “Buru Bus” to come through Jackson and make a stop for a clothing show. So. Much. Fun. I also got a chance to see and hear one of my favorites, Pam Tebow, again. We bonded the last time she was in Jackson and I enjoyed seeing her again. September brings full on FOOTBALL, my Mom’s birthday, and well child visits for all the kids. Wil Franklin had his first huge book report and presentation. He made a pretty awesome Picasso. He also got to swim for the first time at the MAIS State Swim meet in Cleveland at Delta State University. It was so much fun to take him all around campus and show him where his mom and dad went to college. The girls had their back to school night where the whole family had a great time and Frozen was again our movie of the month. Unfortunately, I injured my back somehow and was literally flat in bed for 3 days. I had to do several rounds of PT…it was awful. We are thankful for friends that are sports medicine doctors. And in spite of it all we saw one of the most beautiful double rainbows we have ever seen.
October brings the FAIR. We got to host our Montgomery friend, Susan, in Oxford and introduce her to Col. Reb. One of my favorite volunteer projects at the Mississippi Children’s Museum, Planting the Seeds to Read started. All our favorite babysitters have decided to get married, so we celebrated Jordan, ElizabethAnn, and Taylor’s engagement parties. I also celebrated my 20 Year High School Reunion….20 years! We got our traditional family pumpkin photo at the farmer’s market. Our family decided to take a 10 day declutter challenge. You can read about that here. I got to help plan and organize a huge dinner for one of my clients and we hosted Ryan Bombarder. He was very interesting to get to know. The girls celebrated their 3rd birthday with a Frozen Party and our annual Birthday Mani & Pedi. And of course we had a myriad of Halloween Festivals where the boys were Superman and Batman and the girls were Anna and Elsa.
Matt and I began the month with our annual Fall Getaway together: this time at the beach. Ahhhh….relaxation. Strep hit our house and we were all sick for really the first time all year. I made everyone get the big bad shot, but Henry was the most pitiful and decided he needed a cane to walk. We took a weekend trip with our cousins, Caleb and Emily, to New Orleans for a Saints Game (Who DAT!!) – so much fun. We celebrated Jordan and Forrest’s gorgeous wedding and Thanksgiving. We ended the month with Wil Franklin turning 10. We can’t believe how fast these last 10 years have flown by!! He decided he wanted a Magic Skating Party…so that’s what we did.
The Christmas season is always fun and full of events and this year I was determined to decorate early. We got our two Christmas trees as usual from the fairgrounds downtown. With the California wildfires and many other reasons, the Christmas Tree Shortage of 2018 made finding our two perfect trees super hard. When we finally got them home, one was completely infested with ants. I found this out the hard way and still have the bite scars to prove it. It’s a story I will never forget. We traveled to Montgomery to celebrate our friend, Michael, at his tacky Christmas party. We celebrated ElizabethAnn and Tyler at their beautiful wedding. We went to Carols by Candlelight by First Baptist Jackson. We went to Canton Lights as we do every year. We also traveled to Columbus to celebrate with our Newks management family. Whitney had knee surgery so I made a quick last minute trip to Chattanooga to help her do a wedding she was committed to doing. We got our annual Christmas photo with our favorite Santa at the Country Club and celebrated Christmas with our church family and our immediate and extended families. Uncle D built the boys a tree house at Mimi and DaDaddy’s house. Oh and the Grinch was the girls’s movie of choice. The boys got to go to the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery and be on the field. Then we brought the year to a close by celebrating NYE with our friends the Henigs at their house. What a great end to a great month.
Wow! What a year!
Thank you, 2018. We were blessed to have you.
Amberly, Matt, Wil Franklin, Henry, Sarah Cate and Callie