We are almost (to the day!) a year from Caleb's first evening as a full-time musician. We dubbed 2016 a big fat experiment year... so experiment we did! This blog post turned into a little of a glorified instagram feed but I wanted to make sure I "gathered" this year up. It really was a fun one for our little family.
It’s certainly a highlight reel and not including all those little life tidbits or big-bits that are messier, or sadder, or harder. However, this year was not our “worst”… It was an overall very good year! And I had so much to post I couldn’t even post it all! There were a number of memories that didn’t make the cut (like Caleb’s two solo trips… one to be with his buddy, Jared, for his graduation, and one to be with his brother to meet our first nephew when he was a newborn!). But the weightier years have made the joy of this one seem so much joy-ier.. which is how life works, I guess! You learn to cherish, not take for granted, and find as much good as possible to enjoy.
JANUARY | NEW YORK CITY
- I was 34 weeks pregnant and all of a sudden three of Caleb's siblings were going to be (independently) in NYC for a few days. Since all of their paths were crossing we had to buzz up there for a quick visit. Family is everything, right? It was quite cold and my body was pretty mad at me, but it was worth it and such a great first trip of the year!
JANUARY | BLIZZARD IN MARYLAND
- I'll always remember this time of hunkering into bed, watching my belly dance, and binging on "Making A Murderer." I was so ready to meet my baby girl.
FEBRUARY | ORLANDO + DISNEYWORLD
- At 36 weeks pregnant we spent a week in Florida with friends and it was just the relaxer and warmth we needed! The day we did Disneyworld I walked 13 miles and stayed up for over 24 hours (we got home from Disney around 1:00 am and had to leave by 4:00 am for a 6:00 am flight. And I'd rather be tired "awake" then tired and having to "wake up." Hahaha. I felt pretty impressive and proceeded to reward myself with three days in bed.)
FEBRUARY | VALENTINES DAY
- Caleb whisked us off to our first 5-star stay at The Willard in DC, and surprised me with a luxurious and special getaway. I'm not someone who wants "fancy fancy" all the time, but this was perfect and made me feel so loved and happy.
MARCH | TAKEN TO SUMMER LAND
- Oh the newborn hazey daze of days. I do love them. Summer was a tough baby (and Rowdy was not. In the slightest.) and yet... I remember how much happiness those early weeks held for us. And not because it's all become a blurred, fond memory. I do recall the intense, weepy, strung-out moments. But the power of the good ones are just simply stronger and more memorable. I love having a newborn. And I love falling in love and then watching everyone else fall in love, which causes me to fall in love with them again. It's something of heaven.
APRIL | PAP'S LAKE HOUSE
- When Summer was five weeks old we loaded up our life in the minivan and started the first leg of our big family adventure! A first stop was at Caleb's grandfather's lake house in Arkansas. The three guys went fishing and it's one of Roo's all-time favorite life memories. He mentions it ALL the time! So special.
APRIL | OKLAHOMA FOR ELIJAH'S WEDDING
- The third Morris wedding happened! Elijah married Savannah and Caleb was a groomsman and Rowdy was the ring-bearer! I photographed the lovely day with Ally. It's so much fun to be a part of a growing family -- especially one this size!
APRIL | MINNEAPOLIS + LYDIA'S WEDDING
- LYDIA AND STEFAN GOT MARRIED! As a best friend there are few experiences more "joyful of heart" than to stand beside your girl as she marries an incredible man you trust without hesitation. Lydia put so much effort into making their wedding special, fun, and meaningful. I absolutely loved being a part of it come to life!
APRIL | MT. RUSHMORE
- We left Minneapolis and began a slow trek west and south to spend the rest of spring in San Diego. Our first stop was almost like going back in time to winter. We loved Mt. Rushmore like this! So eerie and quiet and grand!
APRIL | JACKSON HOLE & THE GRAND TETONS
Next we landed in Jackson Hole to see a bit of Yellowstone and take in the Grand Tetons. The evening we arrived is one of our favorite travel memories EVER. `We happened to hit the end of golden hour, there was a warm breeze through the valley, a few elk moseyed past in the long grass, and that mountain range. Holy. Holy. Holy. Oh yeah. I also ran out the car battery in the middle of “nowhere” right before sundown. Wups!
APRIL | SAN DIEGO
San Diego! When I was nine my family moved here for about a year and a half, and those quick months hold a large place in my core childhood memories. Caleb and I wanted to go somewhere warm and rain-free for spring so he could have as much chance as possible to play on the street! So we picked a city… and went!
This trip was when I really had to “put my big girl pants” on as a mother of two. Not only was Rowdy an extremely easy and flexible baby (and, well, child) but I have been surrounded by lots of friends and family his whole life. My struggle more than being “so overwhelmed” by him has actually been more “wanting alone time with him.” But in San Diego… Caleb would go to work and… it was just me! And two kids! Often Caleb would take the car so if I wanted to go somewhere I had to walk. The grocery story was a bit over a mile away, so a couple times a week I’d walk 2.5 miles (including a playground stop) there and back. On Saturdays I’d walk three miles to the Little Italy Farmer’s Market and meet Caleb there. And somehow this was all so much easier than getting the kids in and out of the car, and hearing all the screaming the whole ride! Haha! I had to build those mom-muscles and just learn how to move us around, and get things done, and literally just function as group of three. I’m not an anxious person, but I did feel a bit of stress when trying to “leave the house” before San Diego. But it’s amazing how after doing something enough times, you just… do it! And all of a sudden it becomes second-nature and you go into auto-pilot. I love going out and about with the kids now and am so grateful for our trip that forced me out of my comfort zone in that area!
MAY | DISNEYLAND
Y’all KNOW how I feel about Disneyland. I started having tears before we passed the ticket booths. Our two trips (which were Summer’s firsts!) were just perfect days filled with kabobs, beignets, apple juice slushies, laughter, walking (and walking), and magic.
JUNE | PALM SPRINGS
- While in San Diego Caleb’s mom, Cindy, came to visit for almost a week and we crammed in as much fun as we could! She has always wanted to visit Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, so we made it happen… in 112 degree weather! It was pretty intense outside so we did lots of “run-outs” and loved the resort we stayed at!
JUNE | SANTA BARBARA
My favorite place! My heart loves Santa Barbara for the obvious reasons, but also for some “I can’t explain it” reasons. We met up with some of our closest friends, the Ahlgren family, and had one of our favorite visits there ever!
JUNE | ROADTRIP ACROSS US
The great big road trip back east…! We took five days to get from Southern California to Maryland. We stopped in Arizona and saw the ever-giving, sweetest Nurse Jess. We stopped in Oklahoma for a quick night with the family, one night with Paps, and one night with the Castros (our forever pitstop in-between Oklahoma and Maryland). The kids did mostly great, Caleb and I had some of my favorite conversations we’ve ever had, and we were in awe of the US landscape as we rolled through new scenes hour after hour. Everyone needs to drive across the country… a few times!!
JUNE | NIAGARA FALLS
I had a wedding in New York, and my sister Shannon came with me to watch Summer while I worked! We had a whirlwind morning of getting “the best” Buffalo wings and riding the Maid Of The Mist in Niagara Falls. Another “first” for Summer Girl!
JULY | CAPE MAY
One of the best “welcome back to my friendssss!” memories was our trip to Cape May. A few days after settling into Maryland, Janet texted Becca and I around noon saying she had found a great deal for a Cape May hotel. By 2:30 pm we had two minivans full of three women, two teenagers, and eight kids en route to New Jersey! We had a blast, so did the kids, and I’m so glad that happened. Nothing like “your people."
JULY | WASHINGTON DC
The more I travel, the more I appreciate the area I was born and raised. It’s something special. Caleb and I love how much it offers in such close proximity! Especially if you can plan around bad traffic times, you can get from lakes to the nation’s capital to small civil war towns to beaches to mountains to country to more large national cities in an hour or two! We did a couple “family trips” downtown to just enjoy ourselves as tourists my hometown city.
JULY | GREENBRIAR LAKE
Caleb loves Greenbriar, and I have to admit… his enthusiasm rubs off on me! This family day there was, for some reason, one of my favorite days “just the four of us” ever. I remember sitting at our picnic table and consciously thinking “I’m just so happy.” Grateful for days like that, knowing that life is filled with many other kinds of days.
JULY | MANHEIM + COURTNEY'S WEDDING
And then my OTHER best friend got married the same year! Such a happy few months for our little friend group! Courtney and Joey are wonderful together, and they worked so hard to have a stress-free, easily enjoyable day for themselves and their guests. And it was a smash. I’m so glad you two found each other!
AUGUST | PHILADELPHIA
Caleb planned a quick trip to Philadelphia for our 4th anniversary. And in classic “us” fashion… the kids came to celebrate too! I had mentioned to him that it’s funny how being from the DC/Baltimore area I’ve haven’t spent much time in Philadelphia. I think it’s because if you’re going to go “that far” you might as well go to New York? I don’t know. I’ve spend ten times the amount of time in NYC than I have in Philly! So it was fun to explore this historic, great city so close, yet so faraway from home.
AUGUST | CHARLESTON
Oh Charleston. My second Santa Barbara. We ate. We biked. We took pictures. We ate some more. We oooh-ed. We aw-ed. We ate. We talked. We ate. We laughed. We ate. We cried. We SLEPT. It was a great birthday (27 for me, 29 for him!) trip. And our first without the kids! (Thank you Corinne and Becca!). We missed them and really prefer being all together, but it was pure bliss to be together and have no responsibilities whatsoever. No demands. No timelines. No “need to be here by’s.” Just he and I and all the time in the world (for two days, at least).
I need to do a whole Charleston post, because we didn’t eat a single bad meal. But we had the BEST meal of our lives on this trip. R Kitchen. Make a reservation and go. I’ll share more about it all another time. But had to give them a shout-out here!
SEPTEMBER | MORRIS GIRLS VISIT
Caleb’s littlest sisters and mom joined us in Maryland for a fall visit! We had fun laying low some days (kids playing, coffee shop, meals at home) and then go-go-going some days (Cape May, Terrain in PA, National Harbor, oh my!). It was happy trip!
OCTOBER | CUNNINGHAM FALLS
Our first kiss was at Cunningham Falls. And lawd were we giddy, goobery, floaty little love bugs. We hadn’t been back since, so Caleb wanted to make sure we did this fall! Roo really loved running around “on a big adventure.”
OCTOBER | ALLY BO BALLY
- Ally gets her own post! She made the effort, and added so much joy to our family this year! Though she lives all the way in Los Angeles she came to visit a few weeks before Summer was born and helped throw my “sprinkle.” She came to Oklahoma and shot Elijah and Savannah’s wedding with me, then road-tripped with us to Lydia’s wedding where she was a guest too. Then she came to visit us in San Diego, and also met up with us both times in Disneyland. THEN she came again in October to shoot a wedding and visit right before we left for Oklahoma. We’re so grateful for her intention, creativity, and for letting us into her heart and world. And also so grateful for how she jumps into our world of kids, travel, last-minute plans, laying around, and mess. We love you (or, you know what I mean ;)!
OCTOBER | PIONEER WOMAN MERCANTILE
Back to Oklahoma! And just in time to visit The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile! It was FABULOUS. Cindy, Hosie, Mercy, and the kids and I spent the day in Pawhuska, enjoying every little bit of their work! The bakery, the shop, the restaurant (the food got a giant A+ from us!). I can’t wait to visit again! Ps. The road leading up to the town is actually the Drummond Ranch property! We totally pulled over to take pictures on their land!
OCTOBER | OKLAHOMA
Extended Morris Family. Ahlgren Family. Shorey Family. Drives up and down 105. Coffee. Baked treats. Dinners. Day trips. Progress on the house (and making it “ours” a little more every trip). Big sky. Red dirt. Long days of play. A beautiful brand-new kitchen (thanks to so much help!). Halloween (we went as Prince Charming, Cinderella, and Jack and Mary Mouse). Grateful for this place and the people we share it with us.
NOVEMBER | MAGNOLIA MARKET IN WACO
Waco, TX is conveniently on the way to Caleb’s grandparents house… so before the big Thanksgiving hoorah we stopped for the night! I think this might be a new tradition! SO fun! We loved spending the whole morning and early afternoon on the incredible Magnolia Market property. What a beautiful thing they’ve done there! We can’t wait to go back!
NOVEMBER | THANKSGIVING + GALVESTON
- The Morris Family tradition of Thanksgiving started the 1950’s (we heard the long timeline of the get-together this year before the feast!) Amazing legacy and heritage to be a part of. Love this event every year! Also… my best friend married a guy whose family is in the Houston area too! And this year we were all in town at the same time! I adored getting to spend some time with her and Stefan. Bestie talks, Gilmore Girls, golden hour, carnival swings, and snapping pictures to-and-fro… can’t beat it!
NOVEMBER | PENSACOLA
I can’t believe I’ve never spent time on a panhandle beach…! I’m hooked! The white sand and teal water shocked me, but we will be back! There are so many to explore (especially Rosemary Beach and 30A!). We could have stayed much much longer than we did.
DECEMBER | CENTRAL FLORIDA
The final leg of this year’s great adventure lands us in central Florida, between Orlanda and Tampa (where my dad and siblings live right now!). It’s been a heart-treat to be back with them, enjoying their crazy, conversation, and jokes. And we are THA-RILLED to be having an 80-degree winter. Every single day I walk outside and feel bubbles in my heart. It’s a gift!
- Besides Summer Jo Lee, Caleb and I had a few other "labors of love" this year! Caleb recorded and produced two albums, and I finished and published my first book! We both have felt so grateful our hearts almost ache that people actually have spent money to "hear us." Thrilling, weighty, scary, and gratitude-producing, to say the least.