Monday, January 1, 2018

The Alexander Family 2017


As in years past, we had a great time at the Charity Ball fundraiser that benefits the 
Crisis Pregnancy Center. 
Our interns Michael and Kayla made it to the farm just in time to join in on the fun.

We were glad for the opportunity to help our church, Journey Christian, 
lay carpet tiles during the renovation of the new location. 
One room done!
Nice job, guys.


We surprised Sheridan with a birthday get-together at Sky Zone Trampoline Park.

Then we headed over to the Pizza Hut buffet. Yum!

Timmy made Sheridan a swing for her birthday.

Sheridan's actual birthday was on a Sunday so we also surprised her with a party at our 
every-Sunday-favorite-family-restaurant: Sam's Club.

We worry that we might be a nuisance to the folks at Sam's as we order a lot of pizza combos and ice cream cups each week, then scrunch together a long row of tables to seat everyone for our Sunday dinners, especially this particular week which included a surprise birthday party. However, a customer came to us as we were celebrating and said that watching it from afar made her cry. (Maybe from pity that a family was celebrating a birthday at Sam's Club?!)

Happy 10th birthday to our treasured Sheridan Anna Claire.

In February we began a huge renovation project on the home we first bought 
when we arrived in Amelia in 2004. 
We had been renting it out for the past 8 years.

The project was so much more difficult than expected.
For weeks that turned into months, Sullivan, Harrison, and I (Joy) would load up after morning milking and work until we needed to get back to the farm for evening milking. The kids had such amazing attitudes though, and so many times they kept me encouraged and energized when I felt like we couldn't take another day.

Many days we would take a filled crock pot that would simmer while we worked 
and provide a hot meal to keep us going.

Kitchen Before

Sullivan helped make the kitchen cabinets beautiful.

Kitchen After

Harrison made a gorgeous light fixture with Mason jars (a Pottery Barn inspiration), 
just like the one he made for the farmhouse.

Kitchen Pantry Before

Kitchen Pantry After
For staging, a pantry shelf near the top had jars with Almond Joys and Mounds candy bars. 
The rule was established, "If you have to go to the house while it's on the market to cut grass, clean, or anything else, you may have a candy bar before you leave."

The rule for the Starbucks Frappuccinos was that they could only be enjoyed 
when and if the house sold.

Dining Area Before

Sullivan and Harrison replaced all the light fixtures inside and out.

Dining Area After
Harrison built this beautiful, nine foot long, rustic table, 
specifically for staging the house, with wood from our farm's "falling down barn." 
The pew was a $10 find at a thrift store several years ago.

The oak floors throughout the house were originally harvested when the land was cleared to build the house. We loved how they turned out once re-sanded and stained.

Half Bath Before

Half Bath After
Tim helped the boys lay new tile and install beadboard.

Family Room Before

Family Room After

I can hardly pass up the IKEA misfit cabinet doors they sell for $2. Here, Harrison used one with balusters from the old porch railings to construct a sofa table for staging.

While scrounging around PaPa's garage (Tim's dad), I found this old desk from his days of working at the fire station in Norfolk. Underneath is a deer skin Harrison tanned several years ago.

Hallway Bathroom Before

My sweet friend, Amy, gave me her left-over chalk paint 
and it covered both the upstairs bathroom vanities wonderfully.

Basement Before

Here are both my girls working hard on laying carpet tiles in the basement. 
What a beautiful picture of modern day Proverbs 31 women.

Outside Basement Before

Outside Basement After

Sheridan did a great job reviving this porch swing.

Side Porch After

Tim helped the boys build a new, post and beam style front porch
 that replaced the original simple awning.

Harrison learned how to do stone masonry work on YouTube 
and used rocks we harvested from the property to complete this section of the foundation wall 
under the new front porch that had always been bare.

Sullivan studied my amateur drawings, 
accompanied by my exaggerated and descriptive hand motions
demonstrating what I had envisioned for the structure, 
and then he built exactly what I needed to cover the exterior utility box.

Front Exterior After
I am overwhelmed with gratitude toward my younger children 
who helped me day after day after day.
They did it. It was such a hard project but they did it!

The farm just before spring arrives.

We had a great time with our interns at a concert where we saw Steven Curtis Chapman, Francesca Batistelli, Rend Collective, and Jordan Feliz.


He is risen! 
Happy Easter treats for our neighbors.

Quickly becoming another annual tradition 
is the "Reelin' in Roanoke" dance each spring.

Our interns, Kayla and Michael, were able to join us for this fun event as well.

Sheridan, barefoot and enjoying every minute of the dance.

I was so blessed to see these guys who stand outside our church welcoming the youth to their community groups each Sunday afternoon.


Oh boy! Disney bracelets arrived. It's time for a great vacation with Meredith, the grandbabies, and the younger Alexander crew.

We made sweet, new memories at Disney's Old Key West Resort. 

Learning to dance at the poolside party

Sweet baby Penelope

We just love a night of games, soda and candy!

Disney's Boardwalk Resort has the most amazing live flower arrangements.

No trip to Disney is complete without a boat ride.

Disney Springs - a fun place to play for a bit.

Chunky Lego fun for a sweet, chunky girl.

Waiting for the evening fireworks to begin

We love watching the boardwalk street performers.

Tim took the older crew to make some memories at 
Disney's Blizzard Beach Waterpark one of the days.

What a gift to have a chance to make memories with these precious children and grandchildren.

At our church on Mother's Day. I love this crew so much!

Oliver and I (Joy) were sitting around on the evening of Mother's Day, and he was talking about whether he should buy or build a house. I asked if he had seen the little house near the one we were renovating in Amelia. Within a couple of hours we went inside it and in no time,
Oliver bought it. It's a great fixer-upper with lots of potential.
We are proud of both Elliott and Oliver for saving like crazy and going without a lot of shiny, pretty, less significant possessions so they could buy
their fixer-upper homes debt-free. Good work, fellows!!

Here we are checking it out for the first time. 
"Oliver just needs to remove the popcorn ceiling and put in some recessed lighting!" 
We love to jokingly borrow this line from the Fixer Upper show 
 anytime we look at a possible investment property.

Bruster's with the farm interns. 
We go there way too many Thursday nights for their "BYOB" 
(bring your own banana) half price banana split special.


  We went to Colorado to attend the wedding of friends who have an amazing testimony of waiting on God for their mate. It's so encouraging to see young adults with courage to trust God and his timing.

They rode away in a horse-drawn carriage. 
It was just beautiful.

Sheridan had never been to Focus On the Family so we were eager for her to visit.
We attended the taping of a broadcast and loved touring the ministry.

Here we are at Whit's End, the soda shop. Sheridan is a big "Adventures in Odyssey" fan so it was neat for her to see the studio and surroundings.

While in Colorado, we visited Red Rock, a church like ours that is also a 
strategic partner of Andy Stanley's Northpoint.

We checked out the slopes at Arapahoe Mountain. 
It was so warm that people were skiing in shorts and tank tops.

Barefoot in the snow...that was a first for us.

Sheridan and Timmy enjoyed exercising at the hotel.

Meredith and her family spent the summer in DC 
while Stephen was working there,
 so we enjoyed lots of time together.

They stayed in a high rise condo but Meredith made it such a fun place. 
The children had a pot of flowers or veggies to nurture on the tiny terrace and 
they enjoyed trips to the nearest splash pad. Sheridan enjoyed visiting with them.

One of my sweetest summer memories was when Timmy and I would deliver milk to the Northern Virginia drop sites on Wednesday evenings. 
We would stop by the Hammer's condo for a quick visit usually after 9pm. 
Meredith always had some delicious, home-baked treat waiting for us. 
We'd peek in on the children and hug any that happened to still be awake, 
then chat with Stephen and Meredith for a few minutes before getting back on the road. 
How completely wonderful to have them so close by for the summer.

Happy 16th birthday, Harrison!

It's always fun to embarrass the birthday boy at Texas Roadhouse.

The kids went white water rafting for Harrison's birthday.

We're just now discovering the fun and beautiful rapids in Richmond.

The second couple to marry who first met at the barn dance.
We think so much of the Parker and Smythe families 
and we are rejoicing with them over the marriage of 
Ben and Lydia.

It was such a beautiful wedding that took place at a farm in a rustic setting in Bristol, VA.

The party kept going several weeks later as we celebrated again
 at the Parker's house in Gloucester, VA.

Sullivan and Harrison had a great time playing a ping-pong relay 
game with the other young adults.


It's Chick-fil-A Day! Free meals for everyone dressed like a cow.

Cheesecake Factory's half price cheesecake day - 
the only time we each get a piece of cheesecake for our very own.

Happy 18th birthday, Sullivan!
The guys had a great time bowling and then going to a movie.

Sheridan sweetly surprised Sully by having 
some of his best buds at church write him a birthday greeting.

Peacocks are as much at home on the farmhouse country porch as our dog and cats.

There were some exceptionally hot days this summer. 
Since we have no air conditioning at all, some evenings we'd cool down
at the nearby Sheetz gas station cafe. 
We lounged around, drank milk shakes, and watched TV like we were home.


Oma's condo has the nicest pool. We enjoyed swimming and picnic lunches 
several times throughout the summer.

We've started exploring Belle Isle in the heart of Richmond. It seems like a fun place to get wet.

Harrison thought it was shallow enough to walk across the island from rock to rock. 
He didn't know there would be parts that were over his head. 
So sad for the cell phone in his pocket!

The perfect anniversary get-away begins with York Peppermint Patties 
being chilled in the car's A/C vent.

The Resort Luggage Trolley
It can only mean one of two things: the beginning of a much-anticipated vacation or the sad ending.
I held the door for a man as he entered the elevator, pulling the trolley. 
I excitedly said, "Arriving?!" 
He hung his head and said, "Leaving." 
I sympathetically said, "That's sad," 
to which he replied, "Very!"
I knew our day would come all too soon to ride the elevator with the luggage trolley 
but I soaked in the happiness that it wasn't today!

Timmy and I celebrated our 33rd anniversary at Vero Beach in Florida 
and at the Disney Resort in Orlando. 
We just love the great customer service and wonderful accommodations.

One of our favorite spots to cool off and relax is on the edge of the pool with
 head rests made out of rolled up towels. 

We decided to eat healthy this trip. So we bought a cheap blender, some tall tumblers, and lots of fresh fruits and yogurt and made the most amazing smoothies all week long.

Since our life at the farm is so fast paced and we have very little free time, we brought a bag with about 20 pounds of books and magazines that we were looking forward to reading. wonderful to have time to read!

I really enjoyed Nancy Leigh Wolgemuth's "Adorned" and 
Timmy was working on Andy Stanley's "Visioneering." 
Both fantastic.

As each year passes, I am increasingly aware of God's goodness 
to allow us to celebrate yet another anniversary. 

We all met at Belle Isle for a big family picnic and a picture shoot 
of what would become this year's Christmas picture.

We feasted on fried chicken and the fixings.

The children rolled down the big hills which later 
tested the mamas' grass stain removing laundry skills.


After closing on the property that we had worked on during the spring, 
we began searching for our next fixer-upper.
Houdini Harrison helps us check them out.

It was my huge hope to find a way to thank the younger kids for working so hard on the house in the spring. I couldn't have been more excited when Timmy and I told them we were taking them on a 
"Thank You Cruise."

We had t-shirts made that said: 
"Alexander 2017 Thank You Cruise."

We left from Miami and headed to the Western Caribbean. 
Our ports of call were in Cozumel, Belize, and Honduras.

Oh yeah - it's the THANK YOU CRUISE!

The boat was the newest in Norwegian's fleet and it had great accommodations for a 
family of five with separate spaces for the kids and parents.

The cabins usually have such tiny bathrooms but this ship's interior was really spacious.

Timmy and Sheridan headed straight for the water slides once we settled in.

The ropes course that was 18 floors above the ocean included a zip line that 
would swing the passenger over the ship's edge.

If you're brave enough to walk the plank, you can pull a cord that 
takes your picture while you're dangling over the ocean.

We enjoyed snacking on candy and ice cream while playing round after round of card games.

Our card game boxes become snapshots of sweet memories as we record the winners' names.

Our time at the ports of call was so much fun.

One island had water inflatables and we played on them for hours. Timmy challenged us to try to walk across a slippery, inflated tube without falling into the water. 
It became such fun competition that eventually strangers were joining in and we were all applauding the few who were successful in walking across the slippery tube. 
We played so hard together that day...and made some memories I'll never forget.

I love how the cruise staff is waiting for our return to the ship after we've been on the island,
 and they greet us with cool washcloths and juice.

How fun to have one last daughter that enjoys wearing matching outfits.

We got tickled the evening we took this picture and a woman, who possibly had a bit too much to drink, asked if Harrison and Sheridan were newlyweds. 
When we told her they were brother and sister, her face suddenly became very serious 
and she apologized while making the Catholic sign of the cross. 
We continue to laugh about it.

Nighttime on the ship is so much fun! 
Sullivan would escort us to wherever the party was each evening.

Sullivan completely amazed us by joining in karaoke most evenings. He has a great voice and the crowds loved him! He became a star on the ship and folks would greet him by name throughout the cruise. He was in his glory, for sure!

We'd work off some calories each night dancing on the bow of the boat...and laughing so hard.

Here's Harrison in the middle of the guys who were doing all sorts of crazy dance moves.

Sheridan...she's got soul running through her veins.

Most evenings would end early in the morning with us stopping by the food courts for one last bite to eat before turning in for the night. 
It's so much fun on the cruise that it's hard to say good bye to the day and go to bed.

Can you figure out what's going on here?

This has to be the Alexanders' greatest departure from the excellent teaching in the parenting course "Growing Kids God's Way."

We began the cruise challenging one another to only take the steps and not use the elevators. 
Well, our room was on the fifth floor and most all the food, pools, and activities were on the sixteenth floor...

Sheridan, who near the end of the cruise gave up on the steps only challenge, would be tormented in the elevator as some, who enjoy irritating, would run ahead to each floor and push the elevator button. The elevator would stop, doors would open, and no one would be there, on every floor. Funny for the guys who were doing the irritating, but not so much for the unlucky passengers sharing the ride in the elevator. After one such event, Sheridan sternly scolded the pranksters and assured them that we would not want her exposed to the level of cursing that was taking place in the elevator by the unsuspecting fellow passengers.

Thank you, Sullivan, Harrison, and Sheridan. You guys deserved this trip. 
You are absolutely amazing! 
You spread sunshine and encouragement into our lives and we love being your parents.


Timmy and I recently went through Financial Peace University at our church. 
We were excited to attend a Dave Ramsey event in Tennessee specifically for business owners. 
It is definitely helping us sharpen up our finances.


We were so happy to have the Hershbergers join us at this year's barn dance. What fun to visit with cousins, Oma, new friends, and old at the event we look so forward to each year.

This is why Harrison is thin. 
He's too tired to eat.

Oliver's 24th birthday.
Ice cream at Bruster's with the whole gang.

The Hammers arrived in time for Thanksgiving. Although Stephen had to return to Boston for school afterward, we were thrilled that the babies and Meredith were able to stay all the way til Christmas. What a wonderful time we had together! 
Here the children are helping me "depumpkinize" after Thanksgiving.

Happy 30th birthday, Meredith. What a blessing to have Mere and the babies 
here with us to celebrate!

This year for the grandbabies' Christmas, we did an experience, instead of toys.
 We had such a fun time at Busch Gardens Christmas Town.

We love these children so much!

Christmas Eve Services at Journey Christian

On Christmas Eve Margaret had a benefit piano concert for 
"Maria's Big House Of Hope," the orphanage that Steven Curtis Chapman's family promotes.

Even Nana and Oma were able to join us for the 
concert and Christmas Eve festivities.

After the concert, we enjoyed a our favorite snacks while watching "Home Alone."

 We opened our stockings on Christmas morning 
then headed to PatPat and PaPa's for lunch.

We have each other and we have our health. God has been so very good to us, yet another year. 
May our lives be an expression of our gratefulness.