Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I love this BOY!!

I think one reason our transition without Brady has gone as smoothly as it has is because of this wonderful child. He is the sweetest, most sensitive, understanding 8-year-old I have ever been around. He helps me every day with the girls and is so willing to support me with whatever we need around the house. He completely understands our present situation with Brady being gone and seems to be especially thoughtful about how he can assist me as I run the house.

The other morning Zeke was taking all of the trash out of the house...one of his new jobs now that his daddy isn't here to do it. As he was putting a new bag in the can (which he ALWAYS remembers without me even having to tell him!) he said, "This job is really easy, I mean it really isn't a big deal." I really DO NOT like trash duty so I am thinking...yippee! One more plus for your future wife....she will have a man who doesn't mind taking the trash out every day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Mommy's" Chloe

Shortly after Brady and I married, I attempted to teach Chloe to tell Brady that she was "Mommy's Chloe." She was obviously a Daddy's girl at heart so I thought I would tease him by teaching her to repeat the phrase anytime he was around. Of course, my plan backfired as soon as she learn she could get a rise out of me by saying no, she was "Daddy's Chloe," or "Bubba's Chloe." The girl is so smart and such a tease she would just walk up to me in the middle of the day, with a big grin on her face and say, "I'm Daddy's Chloe!" and run off to try to tempt me to chase after her. The last week Chloe has fixated herself to her sister and she says out loud all the time, "I am KK's Chloe," which pleases her sister to no end. This afternoon while I was making a cake, I overheard a conversation between the girls. Kaelyn told Chloe, "Chloe when we have cake tonight, I want you to have the first piece because you are the best sister I have even seen in the whole world." Chloe response, "Yay! I love cake!"

Chloe has taken off in the last several weeks as she has changed more and more from a baby into a little girl. About 2 weeks before his deployment, Brady decided that he thought it would be a good time to move Chloe from her crib to a toddler bed. Being that she was sleeping WONDERFULLY at night, and based on the fact that Brady was about to leave for 5 months, I was not very excited about "messing with a good thing" nor was I excited about facing the fact that my baby was rapidly turning into a little girl. I was certainly not thrilled at the idea, but Brady felt like she was ready and didn't want to miss another milestone while he was gone, so we did it. I use the term "we" loosely. He disassembled the crib and changed it into a toddler bed while I sat on the floor and cried.

The next week, two days before Brady deployed, I decided to go ahead and start the potty-training process with Chloe. I knew we were going to be at home for the next few days and this was one more opportunity to include Brady in this milestone so we decided to give it a shot. Chloe is a natural. We are on potty-training day 11 and I am amazed at how great she is doing. My sweet friend, Abbie Schneider prayed over me about this transition with Chloe and it worked. It is amazing what that kiddo will do for an M&M. And, it is equally amazing how loudly her siblings will cheer for her when they get M&M's to celebrate with her as well!

One of the last things that Brady told Chloe before he left was that she not grow up too much while he was gone. Well Daddy...she didn't listen very well.

A Visit From the Buckwalters

Just a couple of days after Brady's deployment, our family was blessed with a visit from Analisa, Maren, & Ms. Rita. Analisa is a very close, childhood friend of Sara's who happened to be in the area visiting from Idaho. Analisa's husband, Hans is also in the military and was in training for 2 weeks, so Analisa & Maren decided to take a trip to visit with familiy and friends while he was out of town. (the back story is Hans was in pilot training with Brady in Wichita Falls and actually met Analisa at Brady & Sara's wedding shower, starting dating then and later married...such a neat story).

We were so honored that their sweet family took the time to come meet us during their trip...such an honor! It is always incredibly special to meet Sara's friends....I always feel like I get to know her a little more as I meet her friends.

Thank you Analisa for visiting with us! Can't wait to do it again....maybe somehow, at sometime our families could be stationed close together...that would be so much fun! :)

Dinner with the Thompsons

Last Monday night the kids and I received an invitation to have dinner with Beth Thompson and her kiddos. Beth is a wonderfully sweet friend from our squadron whose husband, Jason has been deployed over the last 6 months. Jason was scheduled to return home just 3 days later in that same week so Beth seized the opportunity, while we were still both single-moms, to have us over for dinner. Beth is one of the most kind and thoughtful people I know....such a wonderful friend. The kids and I had a great time!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Daddy is Deployed

So, Brady left on Sunday morning at 6am from San Antonio International airport to deploy to an "undisclosed location in Southwest Asia." We have known about this upcoming deployment since September of last year. I am a planner so I really appreciated the Air Force's thoughtfulness in giving me a head's up as to what was coming our way. I was especially grateful because it allowed Brady to take time off from completing his master's work so that he could save that studying time for January-June, while he was gone. In the meantime, he was able to spend his non-working hours with our family instead. That was especially nice.

We have decided not to focus on the fact that it might be a bit challenging to spend half of the first year of our marriage apart. So instead I am going to give you the TOP 10 PERKs of this deployment (and all jokingness aside there really are quite a number of great points to be happy about)

1. Brady is only going to be gone for 5 months....yay!
2. He will be returning to our family right after school let's out which, from what I can foresee, will aid in the transition for our family. Brady plans to take a little time off once he returns so that will work out perfectly because the kids will be out of school too.
3. He is in a very safe location....double yay!
4. Because he is in a safe location, I could possibly "show up" in the same safe area of the world (maybe in the middle of his deployment for instance) and maybe we could run into each other somewhere and I could see him and he could see me. :)
5. He has a desk job. He is not flying and therefore people will not be shooting at him. Maybe office work does not sound as glamorous (sorry Honey) but I am thrilled to know that he is a part of the "planning only" team. Yay!
6. We can communicate via FaceTime, Skype & texting...all for FREE! It is AWESOME! (Even Zeke has a new ITouch that he can call his daddy on FaceTime...what a blessing!)
7. For Brady, the time in the evening will not involve chasing after 3 kids, so he will have ample opportunity to finish his master's classes...hooray!
8. The time apart will give our 3 kids a chance to grow and mature as they will be expected to take on a few extra responsibilities while he is away.
9. The seperation will also give way to opportunities to travel to see family and friends a little more often which should be fun.
10. We can have chicken nuggets, sandwiches, and scrambled eggs every night and the 3 who will be joining me for dinner will LOVE IT!

These are the pictures I took before Brady left of he and Chloe practicing Skype on different computers in different rooms in the house. That suggestion was given to us by DeSantis family and that was GREAT advice! For one thing it made us realize that Brady's laptop had a terrible microphone, so he instead took my "formerly pink" Mary Kay laptop with him.

Here is a picture of Brady's redecorating my laptop. Yes, he is using Sharpie to cover up the pink edges before putting a new "skin" on the cover.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Recording "Blessings"

Back in March my sweet neighbor, BJ Powers asked me if I wanted to use his recording studio to record a song for Brady, to play at our wedding. Of course, I immediately said "YES!" because I have always thought creating a recording would be really fun. BJ was so kind to take a day with me to help me create something special. It was incredible to see how the entire process works within a studio...it was certainly nothing I had ever seen before.

BJ then proceeded to copy the song onto CDs so that I could hand them out after the ceremony as wedding favors (so kind and thoughtful). Thank you BJ for that VERY special gift. I think it was my favorite wedding present!!!

(In response to several questions, I went ahead and moved the song posting from the previous wedding post to this one)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Our Wedding

Our Engagement Pictures in Galveston

Planning with Friends
Some details take longer than others....like searching for the perfect bridesmaid's attire (right girls?)

Rehersal Lunch at The Ravellas

Our Wedding

Brady & I were married on Memorial Day weekend, Sunday, May 29th at 4pm. The location could not have been more perfect, along the banks of the Guadalupe river in the backyard of dear family friends, The Brizendines. The guests were almost exclusively family, making the day very intimate and allowing us special time with our new blended families.

Location: Spring Branch, TX
Photography: Kelly Hornberger
Videography: Cousin Alli
Decorations: Carrie Broussard & Noelle Kornegay
Cake: Kristen Babcock
Groom's Cake: Rita Lopez
Kids' Table: Jenny Winter
Rehersal Dinner Host: Jim & Ginger Ravella
Sound: BJ Powers
Dresses: Nordstrom's
Men's Attire: Clothing out of their closets :)
Makeup: Done myself...in about 4 minutes I might add
Special jewelry: My Grandma Addie Mae's diamond bracelet

Our sweet friends & family helped with almost every aspect of our wedding & reception. We were so blessed to have the help of my closest girlfriends to make our day incredibly special.

I couldn't have done it without this amazing group of ladies. Their friendship is so important to me.

The Wedding Party
Minister: Michael Harbour

Matron of Honor: Reecie Crotts, sister-in-law of the bride
Valerie Shoup, close friend of the bride
Lisa Hanna, cousin of the bride

Best Man-Jon Sullivan, brother of the groom
Jay Sullivan, brother of the groom
Matt Crotts, brother of the bride

Jr. Groomsman
Zeke Wims

Flower Girls
Kaelyn Wims & Chloe Sullivan

Unique Points of Our Ceremony
-Both my dads walked me down the aisle, Rick Crotts & David Wims
-We presented both Sara & Brad's families with special ribbons to wear that day in memory of both our late spouses & to represent the importance both the families will continue to be in our lives.
-We wore hats & facinators after the ceremony as a toast to the British nuptials that took place a month prior.
-I recorded the song, "Blessings" by Laura Story that was played during our sand ceremony with the kids.

One of my favorite parts of our wedding ceremony was hearing the promises verbalized. It felt solidifying in such an important way and I found it to be especially meaningful.
Here are a few of Michaels words that he shared with us.

Here you are today as Christians. You follow Jesus. I know your commitment to have a Christian marriage.
It means to have a relationship that is characterized by the Way of Jesus.
As a Christian, you both died to self-interest. That is the key to your successful marriage!

Brady, you are promising to give yourself to Jenny. The model of Christian marriage is for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, and gives himself up for her (Eph 5: 25).
 You are promising to communicate your love to her and for her.
 You are promising to communicate that love through affection that is not selfish, through listening to her with devoted interest.
 You are promising to love her by sharing your hopes and fears, your truth.
 You are promising to love her through helping her make a household, insuring not only her survival, but her blessing.
 You are promising a devoted partner in parenting all of your children.

Jenny, you are making a covenant promise, too. Wives submit yourselves to your husbands, as to the Lord (Eph 5:22).
Brady is entrusting his life to you today.
 He trusts you, as you promise to be the love of his life.
 He wants to share the fun of life with you.
 You are promising to be his companion, his beautiful wife. He is dazzled by you! You make him proud!
 You are promising to provide for him a refuge from the battles of the world.

This is love.
Love is more than a feeling…Love is something you do.
As the Apostle Paul reminds us: (1 Cor 13)
Love shows itself in patience and in kindness.
There is nothing that genuine love cannot face because genuine love never fails, never becomes obsolete, and never ends.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


So, I have taken on a new name. I am now Jenifer Nicole Crotts Wims Sullivan. I constantly find myself pausing when I identify myself on a phone call, depending on who the phone call recipient is. "Hi, this is Jenny ummm.... Wims" or "this is Jenny ummm....Sullivan." I'm not sure why it bothers me if the other person on the other line has to pause for a bit to figure out who I am....but I hate to hear them squirm so I try to make it as easy on them as possible. :) Maybe if my first name was more unique, like Natalie or Tabitha, then I wouldn't think about it so much because everyone could assume...of course, it's Tabitha! But, my mom & dad decided to give me the most popular baby girl name from the 70's through the early 80's. So, when I go changing my last name it just gets everyone confused...including me. :)

One night a few months ago, I was rocking Chloe and reading her bedtime stories. After the first book I asked her, "who is your brother Chloe?"
C: Bubba
J: Who is your sister?
J: Who is your daddy?
C: Brady.....Wims :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Where To Begin?

Brady & I have now been married for 7 months, 10 days, 4 hours & 41 minutes. Where does the time go? I have sat down several times over the last few months to blog and decided to tackle it later because there is so much to share...I didn't even know where to start...there are so many exciting things I want to write about (wedding, the excitement of our new life together, kids starting school, vacations, new friends, the holidays)!

We have been amazingly busy in those first several months of marriage, to say the least. Speaking for myself personally, I think I WAY UNDERESTIMATED what the transition from my old life to my new life would look like in the way of time. For starters, Zeke, K & I had 4 addresses over a 10 week period. We sold our house in Deer Park and moved into my parents' home for 6 weeks, then after the wedding, we moved into Brady's smaller home on the North side of San Antonio for 4 1/2 weeks, found renters to rent out Brady's home and then moved into our new BIGGER rent home in Schertz and that is where we are residing currently. Moving took quite a bit more time and effort than I imagined. Combining two complete family's worth of household items took some sorting, organizing, and deciding whose Kitchenaid mixer we were going to keep (the dark blue one or the stainless steel?) Sara & I both share a love for kitchen gadgets so our combined kitchens had an overwhelming amount of items to sort through. I think Brady & I counted 17 cookie sheets between us & about 13 spatulas.

The other more obvious adjustments were moving away from my parents, my brother & sister-in-law (fabulous babysitters whenever I needed them), our other extended family, moving away from our incredible sitter, Sheyla, my amazing office assistant Valerie, our beloved neighbors, the LeMaire's (and many others), and my unbelievably supportive church family. The kids and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to create a new community of family and friends in Schertz, but it does take a little bit of time to create that network.

God has blessed us abundantly in our new life by putting amazing people in our path. We have gotten very close to many sweet families within Brady's squadron. Some of the same families who cared for Brady just after Sara's passing, openly welcomed me into the squadron family by inviting me to lunch, setting up playdates we me & the kids, and inviting us over for dinner. We have found a wonderful new church home at Journey Fellowship (a satellite church of Oak Hills, home congregation of Max Lucado) which happens to only be 2 miles from our house!

We have gotten connected with several new babysitters to help with the kids.
By far one of the biggest blessings has been meeting our sweet widow neighbors, Nan & Sue (mother & daughter) who live only 2 doors down from us. These two amazing women have taken in our children as surrogate grandmothers. The girls walk down with me almost every day to "go say Hi to Sue & Nan" (Chloe's words). Sue & Nan very kindly help keep the kids so that Brady & I are able to go out on a date night a couple times each month. Our relationship with the two of them has been a direct answer to prayer and has been such a comfort in our new life.

A tremendous amount of support has come from a very dear couple named Ginger & Jim Ravella. Ginger lost her first husband, Troy in a plane crash in Iraq in the fall of 2006. Jim lost his first wife, Andrea to breast cancer in December 2007. Their friendship has been so easy and so helpful for our family. It is far more than coincidence that the Ravella's moved from their station in Florida back to San Antonio the same week that Brady & I got married. Ginger & I have had the wonderful opportunity this fall to meet almost once a week for a book study. Her thoughts on life as an Air Force wife, her experiences in losing a spouse, and her insight on joining two families has been so helpful and reassuring. Jim & Ginger have been such a gift to us.

I am so grateful for the multitude of ways that God has blessed our family these last seven months. Being married to Brady has been so joyful and so easy. Having him be a sweet, loving father to Zeke & Kaelyn has been such a blessing and being given the incredible opportunity to be a new mother to Chloe has been a tremendous gift. My heart is so full....I feel so grateful and so very content.