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Pure Joy

The kids first time to an amusement park was such a picture of pure joy.

At the end of the ride, I asked, “J did you like the ride?”  He shook his head yes.   I then asked, “Do you want to go on it again?”  He burst into tears and said “no pease” over and over again.  Maybe a roller coaster in the dark is a bit much for a two year old!

Lesson learned.  Just because Adventureland does not enforce height limits does not mean that a responsible parent should not enforce the height limit.  I forgot that small little bodies jerk quite a bit while going upside down on roller coasters.   The girls only response at the end of the ride,  “that really hurt my neck mommy!”   Oops!

I absolutely love watching my kids experience things for the first time.  No expectations of what the experience should look like; it is just pure joy.


Where to Begin?

I have three sisters. Three beautiful, lovely sisters whom I adore.

In fact, if I didn’t have sisters, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t need a cell phone or at least a texting plan. I always tell Brent to cut back on our minutes and then he forces me to look at the bill and I realize it is ME using all our minutes and texts talking to my sisters and mom!

All that to say, I LOVE my sisters and any excuse to get to hang out with them makes me happy.

But there is one tiny little problem. Two of them live in Iowa and one lives in Illinois. Makes get togethers a little tricky.

So when my older sister asked me to come up for a week and hang out with her and her kids while her husband was out of town, I only had to think about it for a few seconds before I said yes.  Brent and I and the kids were already planning on going up for the fourth of July so it just meant I would go a week early and Brent would come later. Even the thought of driving 13 hours with all three kids by myself didn’t squash the excitement.

So I took off and the first seven hours of the drive went perfectly. The last five hours were pretty rough, but we made it and my week of fun began!

My sister and I got married within a couple months of each other. Then we had our first kid within 6 weeks of each other. So for the last 8 years, every time we have been together, adult conversation has been next to impossible. We are usually chasing a kid, nursing a kid, changing a diaper, or trying to get a kid to sleep. Plus factor in those pregnancy hormones and lets just say we were past due for some good quality sister time. I’d say living together for 14 days qualifies as good sister time!

I prayed the six kids would get along. I prayed Jana and I would have fun together. I prayed we wouldn’t be a burden on her and her house. I prayed so many things and the Lord answered above and beyond. I truly cannot put into words how special the time at her house was and how much I miss waking up and hanging out with her today!

Avery actually told me over our morning snack that Uncle Mark was really nice and he would probably let us move into his house if we wanted to go back to Aunt Jana’s =) Needless to say, even after 14 days of sleeping on air mattresses, the kids were sad to leave their cousins!

All that to say, thanks Jana for an incredible two weeks full of fun and great memories.  I am so grateful for your hospitality and friendship!  What do you say for making this our new tradition =)

 

14 Days of Fun

I lost my camera cord somewhere on vacation so thought I would tease the family with a few videos  of the trip instead.  I was going to just post my favorite video, but then I couldn’t decide between the beach fun,  the four girls giggling on the Hopper, Laura screaming on the Space Shot, Sidney dancing at the parade, Brian’s beautiful song in the piano room (I have the whole version for those who are interested!), and my daughter blowing out the candles on my mom’s birthday cake.

Too many good moments to narrow them down to a favorite.  So I’m pulling my daughter’s cope out and saying they were all my favorite so I’m posting them all.  Enjoy =)

 

Our Little Gift from God

 

A week a half ago we received a call from Pine Cove.  They told us a family had just canceled for week 1 of family camp, the spot was already paid for, and if we could get to camp in 48 hours, we could have their spot.

Excited is a little bit of an understatement.

I ran the washer/dryer for a day, threw some stuff into some suitcases, and we were off for another great year of Pine Cove family camp!

Let me just say, year 1 was pretty crazy, year 2 was a lot of fun, but year 3 at Pine Cove was by far the best year yet.

Two things contributed to the greatness of this vacation.

  • We didn’t have a baby who needed to go to bed early! And when you don’t have a baby dictating your schedule, lots of fun can be had!  For 5 years, I have been stuck get to be in a room with a sleeping baby or a nursing baby or a grouchy baby while the world around me plays.    I was almost giddy with excitement that we weren’t bound to a bedtime this year and I got to play too!=)  Which meant the kids got to see 10pm every night.  I realized that Justus had never seen it get dark outside before and none of the kids had ever seen a lightening bug before.  The things they miss out on when they go to bed at 7pm =)  They were definitely tired, but we had a blast playing and fully enjoying all that camp has to offer.

  • We also went at the beginning of June instead of at the end of August.  Let me remind you that Pine Cove is in East Texas.   The weather is fabulous in June and more than hot in August!  Which meant this year we all truly enjoyed just being outside fishing, or boating, or just having fun.  I do believe we will continue to go back in June instead of in August!

 

Its hard to describe what an incredible experience Pine Cove is.  Throughout the week, you connect and have fun as a family, as a married couple, and with God all while relaxing and having more fun than I’ve ever had anywhere else.  A post doesn’t do family camp justice, so we’ll just say WE. LOVE. PINE.COVE and we feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to go this year!

Here is our video of the week =)  My favorite part is a toss up between my two year old crying and begging to go to bed and Elliana singing her first solo.  Hope you enjoy!

 

 

And here is a little slideshow of some pics from the week. I figured all grandparents would be interested!

The Birthday Girl

I’m writing this a few weeks after the fact because her birthday lasted a really long time this year!  Apparently 4th birthdays are a HUGE deal and require a couple weeks of celebrating.

The actual big day consisted of her opening her present from Nana and PapPa which she LOVED!

and enjoying a My Little Pony cake with some family friends.

Pretty low key because her actual present was coming the next day.  See when we asked Elliana what she wanted for her birthday, all she would say was “go to Iowa”.  She wouldn’t list presents; she wouldn’t dream of castle cakes.  She only wanted to go to Iowa and to have a Grandma and Grandpa birthday.

If I’m honest, that’s pretty much all I want to do too so I began planning a trip to see my family.  One text to my sisters and mom, and the whole party was planned!  I love my fam =)

If you could see the cake from the other direction, you would see a picture of Grandma and Grandpa.  My little 4 year old was serious about this Grandma and Grandpa party!  She insisted their picture be on top of her cake!

I do believe we might have made the party and the time spent in Iowa a bit too fun.  All three of my children are already planning how each of them can have their next birthday in Iowa!

One of the things I absolutely love about this little girl is that though the presents were fun, the cake was good, and the games were a blast, what she most liked about her party was that she got to celebrate with all her cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandma and grandpa.

She truly puts relationships with people above everything else.  Her tender heart has really risen to the surface this past year and there are times when I’m almost teary eyed at her perspective and love for others.   She will always be our funny, loves to make jokes, the party follows her wherever she goes girl.  But within that extroverted personality lies a tender heart of a young girl who is capable of making even the smallest thing feel special.

We love you so much sweet girl!  Thanks for the cuddles, the sweet words, the millions of cards and pictures you draw me, the patience you demonstrate, and the love for others you possess.   Watching you become your own person is my joy and I pray you will learn to chase after God with the same passion you have for chasing after your friendships.  Happy Birthday!!

I’ve Been Recovering

The week after Easter is always a recovery week for us. Brent calls Easter week a “Super Bowl” week for all worship pastors. Basically it means we don’t see him all week as he works hard to implement, rehearse, design, and create all that the Lord has laid on his heart for Good Friday and Easter. I absolutely LOVE watching Brent in action during this season! I’m definitely a bit biased but I’m pretty sure the Good Friday service this year was one of the best =)

All that to say, the week after Easter, we sleep. I think we’ve been in bed by 9:30 every night and have slept in until 6:15 or so every morning. And now we are up North on vacation. But as I was laying on the couch today thoroughly enjoying my vacation, I realized I never posted any Easter pics. I also realized that if I don’t post them, by next year I will have forgotten this Easter. (anyone else have memory problems?!) So a week late, here is our Easter weekend.

After a week of giving up all things sugar, the kids woke up to a table full of treats.

They were really excited about their treats

All week, we had been discussing and acting out the last few days of Jesus’ life. Friday night after the Good Friday service the kids had put Jesus into the tomb. Easter morning they woke up to an empty tomb and a party to celebrate.

The party continued after church and way into the evening at some friend’s and all their families. There were about 20 kids under the age of 6 running around and playing. The kids had a blast and with so many of them to entertain each other, the adults had a blast too. The perfect Easter day.

Easter may be one of my favorite holidays.

Realizations

This week as a family we’ve given up all things sugar in order to help us remember all that Christ gave up.  That means no sugar from the treasure box at gymnastics, no candy from T-kids, no treats from the Easter egg hunt at preschool…nothing.

Tonight at dinner, the oldest stopped in the middle of a conversation and asked,

“hey, is there sugar in ice cream?  Snow cones?  peanut butter cookies?   ahhhhhhhhh.  Why does all the good stuff have sugar in it!”

A girl after my own heart.

Preparing our Hearts

In an attempt to prepare our hearts for Easter, we have been talking about what it looks like to love God.
Obeying and loving God is hard in our own strength; however this is a difficult concept to communicate to young children. They know the “right” answers to how to love God, but will more than likely fail to carry out those “right” answers numerous times today. Those failures are what I’m using to prepare their hearts (and mine!) to understand the need for the cross.

The Week After

After a couple days of playing with cousins, raking 42 bags worth of leaves, making a gingerbread house, and just plain enjoying being with family, we left Brent’s dad’s house in Duncan and took off for Brent’s mom’s house in Clinton, OK. On the way, we made a quick stop at Great Grandma’s house in Chickasha.At nap time, we loaded the kids up, prayed they would sleep in the car, and drove the rest of the way to Clinton. I have now seen more of Oklahoma than I ever wanted to. Although, I do have to admit, the sky is pretty amazing in Oklahoma. Not sure why it is more beautiful than anywhere else, but even the kids ooohed and awed over it!We had such a great time in Clinton and truly can’t wait to go back. Thanks for all the fun, food, conversation, and relaxing! We came home ready to tackle the enormous amounts of toys we now need to sort through. I see some trips to a shelter in our future…

If you want to see the rest of our pictures from the week, click on the picture below…as usual, there are a lot of them and they all have captions…I can’t help myself.

christmas day

The Perfect Reaction

This is what you want to see on your kids faces when they see their present on Christmas morning!
This is what happens when your husband likes the new present almost as much as the kids do!
After our Christmas at home, we drove up to Duncan, Oklahoma to stay a few days with Gramps and Grammy. We’ll just say Justus is now a pro at saying the word, “presents”.



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