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Merry Christmas from the Minters

Its that time of year again!  Time for our annual Christmas card.  This marks year 6 of this tradition, and the first year the kids really wanted to take ownership of the tradition.  They picked the music, where the computer would sit, what they wanted to show in the video, and just basically made it their own.  It is fun to watch them grown up.  In fact, if you want to view years gone by, here is 2009 (Elliana at the end is my favorite!), 2010 (Justus finally makes his first appearance “helping”), 2011, 2012, 2013 (our first Christmas in Iowa), and finally, 2014.  Merry Christmas everyone!

 

The Beginning

One of my children has had some lingering health problems resulting in TONS of antibiotics throughout her short little lifetime.  As a result, her stomach ALWAYS hurts, she had developed horrible reflux and heartburn, and is just a little bit miserable most days.  As a mom, my heart hurts to see her struggle at such a young age.

So I decided to do something about it.

Today marks DAY 1 of our 30 day strict eating plan.  No beans, no bread, no sugar, no processed food, no dairy, pretty much no to anything that will turn to sugar in her gut.  Sounds fun right =)

But we do get to say yes to all kinds of meats, all kinds of veggies, and some fruits, so we definitely won’t go hungry! The idea is to completely starve all the bad bacteria in her gut while still providing her with all the proper nutrition she needs.  Because we are a family and families stick together, the whole family will be eating the same thing and going through the 30 days together.  Three of us are excited about this. The jury is still out on the other two.

Last night, I prepped for the week, made something called Bone Broth (which smells fantastic!), emailed all the teachers at school to let them know what our family will be doing and to please not allow my children to sneak candy from the treasure boxes in the classroom, and spent time convincing one of my children this was not punishment but a fun adventure (I’m not sure she’s buying it).

Here’s to Day 1.  Praying for happy hearts and for the Lord to use the next 30 days to completely heal my baby girl’s pain.

 

Merry Christmas from Us

This is the 5th year we have done this, and I can honestly say its one of my favorite holiday traditions!

 

 

When we started this tradition in 2009, Justus was still in a high chair and the girls barely had any hair! Its so fun to look back on life and see all that has changed and remember all God has done over the past 5 years. If you care to take a stroll down memory lane with me, here’s 2009, 2010, 2011, & 2012.

Merry Christmas!

How Are the Kids Doing?

That seems to be the most asked question, and overall they are doing great.  Of course there have been moments of sadness, but for the most part they are being rockstars about all the transitions.

However, along this journey, there have definitely been some memorable quotes said.  Here are a few of my favorites =)

First Sunday here, Avery was asked by the pastor how she liked her new church.  Her response,  “This isn’t my church.

While walking out of Costco, Justus handed the receipt  to the lady at the door and stated, “The Costco in Texas is better than this Costco.”

Waking up to more snow falling, the kids stood at the window, and Justus asked, “Does all it ever do here is snow?!”

The other day Avery asked me, “Do you think maybe you could homeschool our cousins next year?  I think I would like living here more if they could be homeschooled too.

We were going outside to play, and Elliana stated, “I’m staying inside.  Maybe when all this snow melts I can go outside again.”

All three kids were complaining they haven’t been able to ride their bikes in FOREVER, so I took them out to ride.  They lasted 5 minutes before the wind got the best of them, and they decided riding bikes might be more fun in the summer =)

The first time I put the kids into the car and said we were going to Aldi, cheers erupted from the backseat.  As they calmed down and I asked why they cheered, the response was, “We’re driving to Texas!”   I guess I had forgotten to mention there were Aldi’s in Iowa too.

While driving by a Panda Express, I hear Justus gasp and then scream, “They moved Panda here from Texas!!!!  Oh, I’m so happy!”

And finally, just last week, both girls were having a conversation about our new church.  They talked back and forth about how nice people were and the new friends they were making and finally stated, “I think this is going to be a really fun place.  I think we are going to like it.”

The last quote definitely made my heart happy.

Saying Goodbye

When we first told our kids we were moving, they cried for an hour.

Yes,  I will always remember January 7th as a pretty emotionally exhausting day…Brent resigned from NorthWood and our kids literally melted down about the idea of moving.

By the time we got the kids calm enough to go to bed, Brent and I were completely worn out, and I’ll be honest, I was more than a little bit depressed. I didn’t know how to support Brent, comfort my kids, get the house ready to put on the market, move across the country, and not have a breakdown myself.  So that night as I prayed for the kids and for the move, the Lord really impressed on my heart the need for them, and me, to be able to say goodbye well. The need for us all to feel like everything we treasured was said goodbye to so we would feel the freedom to embrace what God had for us in the future.

And so the whirlwind began. In 2.5 weeks, we packed up the house, sold the house, went to every favorite location, had a million play dates, and said good bye as well as we possibly could. It was exhausting and perfect all at the same time.

When January 27th finally arrived, the kids were ready, I was ready, and Brent was ready. We had mourned all we would miss and now had an excitement for the adventure that laid before us. Although I won’t lie, that last morning at NorthWood was HARD!! I cried for 4 hours (as you’ll see in the pictures). My eyes were swollen but my heart was so full. Our time spent in Keller was fulfilling and life changing, and the people and experiences there have forever shaped us and made us better people.

But by the time we said good bye that last Sunday morning, I was ready. I was ready for what God was calling us to do. I was ready to move my family across the country. I was ready for an adventure. I was ready for change.

And not only was I ready, I was excited. The type of excitement that only comes from our gracious Father who lead me down the much needed path of mourning what would be missed so I would be excited for what laid ahead.

So here is a short slideshow of our last couple weeks as we said good bye.

 

The Adventure is Beginning

The first contact came just days after we had our first conversation about what God was doing in our hearts. We both felt stirrings from God, but what they were for or what God was desiring what still unclear. Then a call came.

The call happened during a stressful week, a busy season, and an overwhelming schedule. Usually during big moments, we have time to sit in silence, listen to God, talk to each other, and just think. Not this time.

This time God brought an incredible request to us and then separated us and forced us to process the request individually with God alone.

It was hard. I was anxious. I was stressed. Then I would pretend like there was nothing to think about and life was just like it had always been. But through it all, God kept whispering into my heart, “be still and be silent. Don’t badger Brent with questions or comments. Be silent and just listen.”

So I kept silent. For nearly a month and watched and listened to Brent process.

He discussed his emotions, his desires, his dreams, his ambitions, his fears, and even lack of clarity from God concerning what our next step should be. I simply listened and prayed like crazy. Calls like this have come in the past and what God wanted us to do was always very clear. This time I knew it was different. I also knew that God was doing something incredible and so both Brent and I were going to be under attack.

So for a month, I listened to God, listened to Brent, rarely spoke about the issue, and prayed for protection for us as we followed in obedience to God. It was difficult.

But then this moment came when God simply opened my mouth and said “speak”. I looked across at Brent, spoke the truth of God’s Word, and it was as if an incredible burden lifted from both of us. It was at that moment we decided God was leading us forward, and we needed to fully investigate if God was calling us to a new church.

The more we stepped forward, the more God confirmed we were to keep moving forward. I honestly kept having this thought in the back of my head that said, “don’t worry. Any moment God is going to say stop.” But God never said stop. He just kept opening doors.

So the day after Christmas, we called the pastor of WestWind church in Waukee, Iowa and told them we would accept their job offer. I will always and forever remember the excitement of that moment…the moment we agreed to follow God on this next great adventure. And quite the adventure it will be! Moving our family of 5 across the country in the MIDDLE of winter can only be an adventure from God!

To be continued……

Pine Cove…Year 4

You may hear “Family Camp” and East Texas and think we must be crazy to keep going back to Pine Cove, but it seriously is the best vacation ever! I think this picture sums up our opinion of family camp pretty well =)

Every year, as our kids get older and older, camp just gets more and more fun!

Things I noticed about my children during the week:

  • Avery is the most responsible kid I know.  She is also incredibly tender hearted and will help anyone who needs helps.  And, as she gets older, she gets a little fearful of things like the zip line, the climbing wall, and the water rocket; HOWEVER, she never lets her fear stop her.  She pushes through that fear, overcomes it, and walks away smiling.  Love watching that determination and stubbornness be used for good!

  • Elliana is fearless.  She will climb any wall, jump off any building, ride on any water ride, and do anything as long as people may laugh at her or it looks like it may make her laugh.  She is also a great friend.  She makes friends with everyone she meets, and if she can stop giggling long enough, she can make everyone around her smile.   And although she is now 5, she still needs a nap every once in a while….desperately.

  • This was the first year Justus got to do things like the water rocket and zip line with us.  Unfortunately, I forgot he’s only 3 and still takes everything literally.  For example, he wouldn’t go out onto the actual water rocket. He just wanted to sit in the boat.  I later learned he didn’t think he was big enough to go into space yet without mommy…(forgot to tell him the “rocket” wasn’t actually a space ship rocket. He literally thought he would shoot up into the sky if he sat on the water rocket!).  He also really likes to run.  Pine Cove has lots of land with a lot of counselors who love to chase after your children.  Justus ran until he fell over to sleep and then woke up to run some more.  He was in heaven!

  • And Brent and I…well we just get to relax.  There are so many people taking care of your children that you don’t have to parent a whole lot at camp; you just get to have fun as a family.  The counselors remind the kids to eat with manners, they take the kids to the bathroom, the remind them to follow the rules, they basically parent your children for you.  And they are so fun about it that the kids just listen and follow the rules.  This frees the parents up to just have fun with the kids!  Its truly a week of vacation where the family gets to just be.
  • Brent and I also got to go on 3 dates….Did you hear that?  THREE dates in one week!  A week of fun with my kids and a week of fun with just my hubby and I.  It is just about a perfect week.

click here to view the rest of our pics from the week =)

And here is our video from our week.  At least the main highlights.  I rarely took the camera with me this year, so its just the important stuff =)

 

Our Disney Surprise

This is the video I promised!  Last Monday morning, we woke the kids up and then told them we were going to go to Disney World for the week.  We left the house to drive to the airport an hour after we told the kids. They had absolutely no idea and were incredibly excited.  Warning…you’ll hear plenty of high squeals and screams during the video =)

 

 

Disney Day 3

We headed back to the Magic Kingdom for day 3. The focus of this day…to see everything we didn’t see on day one and to ride again all the favorites.

When we first walked into the park, we saw Snow White!  She was just getting set up so there wasn’t a line, and we were able to get hugs and autographs right away.

On day one, we didn’t really see any of the Disney entertainment you hear about all the time.  This time, we got to experience it all.  You couldn’t walk down main street without seeing bands or dancers or some sort of entertainment.  And most of them stopped to talk to the kids!

And the classic picture in front of the castle

We then went to all the rides in Fantasy Land that we didn’t get to on the first day.

One of my favorite pictures of the day.  Such pure excitement that they just started giggling, hugging, and jumping up and down

We made it a point to see most of the princesses today.  I’ll be honest.  I was a little concerned with how much Justus tried to flirt with the princesses! =)

Then we were off to see the treehouse from one of our favorite movies, Swiss Family Robinson

And then we rode The Magic Carpet Ride.  I have a video I’ll try to post soon of Justus singing the songs from Aladin.  He goes to sleep, wakes up, and walks through his entire day singing “A Whole New World”.  Needless to say, the fact that he got to ride a magic carpet like Aladin just about made his year.

The cousins got to be even better friends than before.  Its so fun to watch them grow up and just truly love each other.

Guess what the favorite ride was?

And finally a picture with all the cousins together!

We also got to meet Chip and Dale

And rode the Tomorrow Land Speedway cars again

This was the team in my car.  Justus was the driver and Elliana controlled the gas pedal.  It was a bumpy ride full of laughter.   Even the cars passing us were taking pictures  =)

Another favorite of the day was Mickey’s PhilharMagic.  The kids are still asking how the water came off the screen and sprayed our faces!

Then it was time to wait in line to see some princesses.  Remember what I said about Justus and the princesses?

Here is he showing Cinderella his muscles

Here he is enjoying a hug from Belle.  I wish you could see his grin!

And here he is reaching up to sneak a kiss from Aurora

Lucky for him, Aurora thought it was funny and kissed him back

After all that kissing, we got to see another parade!  The kids got high fived by all their favorite characters and loved every minute of it.

After a few rides, some snacks, and the parade, we went back to meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  I mean, you can’t leave Disney World without meeting the big man himself!

We completely wore the kids out!  Elliana and Justus both fell asleep on the bus on the way back to the resort.

But that didn’t stop us from throwing their swim suits back on them and letting them have one last fun afternoon in the pool.

Justus actually won this game!

It was such a fun 3 days in Disney World!  Just the perfect amount of time to experience it and then get home before everyone completely falls apart from exhaustion.  We are so thankful for my sister’s family and for their invitation to come with them on such an amazing vacation!  This is one we won’t ever forget!

Disney Day 2

Our second day was spent at Animal Kingdom.  This day may have been my favorite day of the trip.

Did you notice Elliana’s pouty face?  Yes, she really showed off those amazing pouty lips in most of the morning pictures.

We started off the morning going to the African Safari.  AMAZING is all I can say.  We all just loved it.  Here we are waiting in line.  We woke the little man up earlier this day, and so he was awake and happy!  Yay!

Justus insisted I put this one on the blog.  He is still talking about how the animals kept showing us their bottoms.  (insert giggle here)

After the Safari, you can walk through a zoo like observatory.  Elliana is fascinated with bones, and so she loved all the skeletons of the animals.  I don’t think she gets that skeletons are dead animals, and I surely wasn’t going to be the one to tell her.  For now, she just thinks bones are cool =)

 

After all that riding and walking, the kids thought they needed a big snack to tide them over until lunch.  I tried to sway them towards the bananas or apples, but when they saw these huge pretzels, they wanted nothing else.

After our snack break, we went to go see The Lion King.  I was so excited to see this!  Even though the kids didn’t know we were going to Disney until the day we left, we have been silently preparing them for the trip.  We borrowed most of the Disney movies from a friend and The Lion King was one of the favorites among the kids.  They know all the songs and talk about the movie constantly.

And since Elliana had suddenly decided to try smiling again, I had to snap a picture of the two of us! (Sidenote..some adult who wasn’t thinking said something along the lines of “oh, look at her teeth.  She’s going to need braces”  Now my 5 year old rarely smiles with her mouth open.  Think before you speak people!)

The show was amazing!  And even more amazing was the fact that we got to see Minnie Mouse right after the show!

Doesn’t Minnie’s face just make you smile?!

At some point during this day, we realized we should have brought a double stroller.  Instead, one of the girls was on my back, one on Brent’s shoulders, and Justus was in the stroller.  Fun times.

Outside the Rain Forest Cafe, there was a huge fountain that had an elephant “spitting” water.  Just look at how much fun it is to stand in the elephants “spit”.

After lunch, we went to the kiddie rides for a bit, and then Brent and I took turns riding Everest.  That’s Brent in the very front of the ride on the right!  Everest has a single rider option which allowed us to not wait in line.  Brent went straight to the front of the line, rode the ride, and then came and got the kids, and then I went on.  In about 10 minutes, we were done!  Beats waiting in line together for 45 minutes =)  It was amazing and the only “big person” ride we rode this trip.

After Brent and I finished dragging our kids around to do big people things, we took them back to the pool.  They absolutely LOVED swimming every day.  Avery and Sidney are two little fish and had a blast choreographing water routines, learning new tricks, and giggling together.  Justus was my little dare devil which meant it quickly became a rule that he must have a life jacket on at all times. Elliana wore a life jacket the first day and then insisted that she was big enough to swim.  And sure enough, she swam!  She also participated in EVERY game the resort people had.   She won a little plastic duck at one of the games, and she is now inseparable from that duck! Every evening when it was time to get out to eat, all three of my kids would be in tears because they didn’t want to leave the pool.

Let’s just say that at the end of this day, the kids had no trouble falling asleep that night!

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