Sunday, May 31, 2009

More happenings...

Saturday was a busy one for us. Two birthday parties for kids to go to. Fortunately, one of them was across the street, so I was able to walk right over with the little ones. It was my sweet neighbor's little boy's 3rd birthday. Hannah, John, and Eden went and had so much fun. They rented a huge moon bounce machine, which John spent lots of time in. For some reason, he kept wanting to stand on his head.

They really enjoyed their swingset, too, I guess because it's so much different (and nicer) than ours at home. Lots of pizza, cake, and ice cream made for 3 happy kiddos!

The next party was for Sarah's friend that she met during her keyboard class this year. They live out in the country, so they had plenty of room for a water balloon fight . Sarah liked that part and got pretty wet! She was only one of a couple girls at the party, so some of the airsoft gun wars she didn't participate in-just too boyish! But she still had a great time!
In the midst of all this, Dad returned from his fishing trip in Galveston with several catches! Here's one of the big ones.

I can't remember what it is called, but he did say it was quite a pain to cut it up-I guess the scales were really hard to get through. It was yummy, though! Yes, dinner was Daddy's fish that he fried up. Surprisingly, the kids loved it. He also got a baby shark, though we weren't able to eat that one, since it wasn't filleted up right away. But look at those teeth.

Creepy, huh? The only downside of the trip was the lost pair of glasses, due to some big waves. After a busy weekend, I'm ready to have a few resting days!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Happenings at our House...

The past few days have been very full, it seems, with lots to do in and outside of the house. Wednesday, we celebrated Dad's birthday. I won't divulge his age except to say that he is one year older than last year! :-) The kids genuinely enjoyed preparing for the special day. The girls decorated the kitchen with streamers and balloons and helped me make a giant cookie for him, as he is not a "cake" kind of guy.

Not as fun as a frilly cake, but it was yummy!

One of the kids' favorite things to do now is challenging dad to a chess game! The littler ones are just learning, but the older kids have put up quite a challenge! If they keep this up, pretty soon they may beat him!

With a house full of so many people, food is a big deal-it seems like we are always preparing it! The past couple of years, I have been trying to train my kids better in the kitchen. We started with the kids helping out with breakfasts. For the older ones, they can choose what they would like to make and do it on their own, for the most part. The younger ones need more assistance, but they do well, and love being able to pick the meal! Here is Sarah making one of her favorites, waffles. These were gobbled up quickly with lots of syrup.

Oh-did I mention that Luke is really enjoying eating some more solid foods lately? Can you guess what his favorite one is? I'll give you a's stuck to him...

Desperately in need of some supplies, we decided to make a big grocery shopping trip today....with everyone in tow! I don't usually do this, for understandable reasons, but with circumstances being as they were, it's just how it worked out. Here they are-well, at least 6 of them-before heading into WalMart.

I was actually quite impressed with how well they did, especially since it was a very long trip. The promise of a yummy treat at the end helped them all remember to be on their best behavior! I can't tell you how many times I heard, "Are they all yours?" After a long day, we were all beat. We're ready for some rest and to sleep in tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spring Cleaning and Sewing

Around here, I am in spring cleaning mode. It always happens to me, after the end of our school year, I get the itch to get everything organized! During our usual schooling day, I feel like I have very little time to deep clean or organize much of anything. Because of that, things get out of place, worn out, and we seem to just accumulate too much junk! I'm on a quest-and so far, I've put a decent dent in things. I have worked on my kitchen, bookshelf, office, and master bedroom closet. They're looking better and I've gotten rid of about 3 trash bags full of stuff! I always feel so much lighter when I get rid of unneeded junk! My next step is the kids rooms. My boys' room scares me, but it must be done. What is it about boys and the way they keep their rooms? I know my kids' rooms will never be as clean as I would like, but if we can organize them well enough, my hope is to keep them at an acceptable level!
Along with spring cleaning, I am looking forward to completing some sewing projects that I really never get a chance to work on! I am no seamstress by any means, but sewing is a lot of fun! I have a tough time finding modest clothes for my girls, so it's helpful to be able to sew a simple skirt for them when needed. I finished a cute skirt for Eden the other day. Too bad she really didn't want me to take a picture of her at the time!

I loved the fabric when I saw it-kind of looks like a bandana. It's a cute style....very flowy and girly! I plan on sewing a matching one for Hannah also. I have several other projects, too, including my second swimsuit for the girls-everything is easier the second time around!
Along with planning for the next school year, the cleaning and projects should keep me plenty busy, along with chasing all the kiddos around, until we start back school in July! Yay for summer break!

Monday, May 25, 2009

6 months already!

Yes, my little cutie patootie (a.k.a. Luke) is 6 months old now. Already starting to sit up and active as ever! I'm telling you, this kid can't wait to be mobile-it's almost scary! He's 16 1/2 pounds, the size of most of my kids at almost a year old. So he obviously has a very big appetite! He's always wanting to be in on the action and is very social. He loves smiling at anyone-strangers included! I love my little diaper wearing, crazy-hair, goofy little guy!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

End of the year fun

We are blessed to be a part of a wonderful homeschool group here in Katy. Though we don't always participate in as many activities as we'd like, we always enjoy the few that we are able to be a part of. Yesterday was their annual end of the year party, and it was no exception. It was held at the local park and there was lots of food...hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, watermelon, and cotton candy for dessert! Yum! Eden kept saying "hot dog, hot dog", but never did actually eat it. I think she just had fun playing. John had a great time chasing the ducks and the giant crane-looking bird (not sure what it was exactly). He never caught any (same thing with those squirrels at the park last week, remember?) but had a lot of fun. Eden decided she wanted to swim with the ducks, so she got a little wet at one point.
Michael spent some of his time fishing with a friend. They caught tons of crawfish! Wish I would have had my camera there. The little ones all enjoyed the big bouncers they had setup. A good way to get out all that energy! (The energy I wished I had at this age!)

Everyone was pretty worn out by the time we got home, which means a good nite sleep for all! We had a great time and were thankful for the time spent with other homeschoolers!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

On raising children...

If someone had asked me over the past 16 years what the hardest part of raising children was, it would have changed quite a bit over that time. When I first had just little ones, babies and toddlers, I would have said that it was so difficult to keep track of them and just keep them out of trouble! As they grew, I might have said it was training them to obey that was so difficult. Fast forward a few years, I was so concerned with schooling them and most importantly, introducing them to Christ. Well, 16 years after my parenting journey began, I think I have encountered the hardest part of my raising my children. It's letting them go and allowing them to make their own decisions (even bad ones sometimes!). While they were little, I made all their decisions for them. As they've grown, that has gradually loosened until one day, they will be off on their own-making decisions for their own families. When my kids were little, that day seemed so far off, but as my oldest two are in their last 3 years of high school, it really isn't that far off. I never believed it would come this fast, but it has. I wonder if I have prepared them well enough for life-sometimes when I see the decisions they make, I realize I have fallen short in so many areas. But not allowing children to live with consequences of bad decisions really wouldn't be preparing them anything. After all, isn't the most important decision in our lives-choosing to accept or reject Christ- one that each of us must make ourselves? As much as I want to, I can't make that decision for my children. As hard as that is to accept, I am thankful also. If each of us didn't choose to follow Christ by our own decision, we wouldn't truly have faith- we would be like robots. I don't want that..and especially not for my children. For now, I pray a lot for my children-that each would come to trust in Jesus as their Savior. I also pray for wise decisions, especially when I see them struggling. I truly believe in my heart that God is working on me thru my children, just as much as He is working on them. So when my child chooses disobedience for the 50th time, despite the consequences, or chooses to fail a test because he didn't study, I will persevere and trust in the Lord-He has a wonderful plan for myself and my children-one that is far beyond what I can see!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A new smile...



Notice anything different? Yes! Christopher got braces yesterday! As you can tell by the after, he wasn't too thrilled. Those things hurt when they tighten them up. He also had an expander put in the roof of his mouth, so it's been difficult to take clearly. Poor guy-but he's getting used to it. They should put the bottom ones on in a few months. After they put them on, they had us watch a video together on caring for his braces. When they got to the "diet" section, they showed the foods that you should not have like licorice, skittles, now and laters, and starburst-yes, they showed those specific ones. Christopher let out a big "Darn!" since those are pretty much his four favorite candies! The hygenist was laughing and said that all the kids say that at that part. When he got home, he promptly gifted the remainder of the licorice he had bought last week to his sister (how sweet!) and resigned himself to 2 years without his faves. Obviously, he hasn't discovered just how yummy a butterfinger bar or M and M's can be....yet! With time, I'm sure he'll come up with a whole new list of favorites!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our visit with Aunt Michelle!

My sister-my kid's Aunt Michelle-came to visit this weekend from California. What a blessing it was! My kids have looked forward to her visit for such a long time. We haven't seen her in about 7 months, so there was a lot to catch up on! We decided to postpone Eden's 2nd birthday celebration until she came, so she could be part of the fun. Eden had a great time-she opened all her gifts (with Dad's help, of course!)

She got this cute little tutu from Grandma-doesn't she look adorable?

We had cake and ice cream,too. Here's the cake I decorated for her. I chose this one because I always call her "my little princess"!
Aunt Michelle had a great time with all the kids. She's so sweet to them, letting them play "beauty shop" on her hair, reading books to them, and taking turns pulling them in the wagon.
Even though it was a short visit, we enjoyed every minute of it. We all can't wait until her next visit! My kids are so lucky to have such a sweet and wonderful person in their lives who loves them so much! Aunt Michelle, you're one of a kind and we love you!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Playing at the park

We took advantage of the nice weather and decided to head down to the park to play with some friends yesterday. The park we had planned on going to was under construction, so it was closed. We went to a new park we had never been to and my kiddos loved it! Lots of tall trees and space to run. Of course, tall trees mean lots of squirrels, which John just loved chasing. His strategy was one of trying to sneak up on the squirrel and then when it ran up the tree, he'd scream at it. I guess he was hoping the squirrel would change his mind about scampering up the tree and come back down. Sad to say, his technique didn't work and he wasn't able to capture ANY squirrels. Oh well, all the more reason to try again. They had this cool rope climbing thing-here's the kids at the top. I kept thinking one of them was going to fall, but nobody did, thank goodness.

Here's the big kids on the swings, chatting away. They found lots of cool spots to explore, too,
over in the wooded areas.
Eden's job seemed to be getting dirty-do you like the nice dirt moustache she's sporting here? This was just after we fished her shoes out of one of the trash cans. Apparently, they looked like they needed to be thrown away.

My kids are all asking when we're going again. I must say, I love the fresh air and time outdoors-and the fun of seeing them play. We'll visit again soon!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Band concerts and ice cream...

Tuesday evening, Sarah and Michael had their final band concert of the year. Sarah has been learning keyboard, while Michael played the trumpet. It is beginners band, of course, but I was quite impressed with how all the kids had improved since the last concert in December. Though Michael was so excited to play trumpet this year, he's decided it's just not the thing for him, so he won't be continuing. Sarah, though, would like to continue doing something musical-she's mentioned wanting to play the guitar, though I don't know how serious she is about that. I am proud of them for sticking it out this year and practicing their instruments-it showed a lot of perseverance on their part!

Also, Eden's birthday was officially Sunday (yes, Mother's Day!), though we haven't really celebrated it yet. We're going to do that this weekend when Aunt Michelle comes for a visit! I did take her out for the traditional birthday ice cream scoop. If you haven't signed your kids up for the Baskin Robbins birthday club, you must do it! They get a free scoop on their birthday and my kids love being able to pick out any flavor they want. Eden chose cookies and cream. I've got to say, taking a 2 year old out for ice cream is just so much fun. They enjoy every single bite as much as the first one. Just look at this smile..

Now this was the before you can see, she's just digging into the ice cream. I didn't get a chance to take an "after" picture, as I was too busy cleaning her up. Let's just say, I think the ice cream won.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Prayer walking

The past couple of months, I have gotten into the habit of taking a 30 minute walk around our neighborhood after dinner by myself-or at least most of the time. It has been helpful for me mentally to just be outdoors in the fresh air, as I'm usually inside most of the day. The time alone is a wonderful thing, too. But most importantly, I have been using this time to pray for others, which I love doing. I am able to have time to read my Bible each morning, but with so many little ones, I often find it difficult to have a quiet time in my day when I can pray, so having that 30 minutes is just priceless! It's also amazing the things that the Lord puts on my heart-maybe a new thought about something I'm struggling with or gently pointing out something I hadn't done well that day. I always come back feeling refreshed and renewed-spending time with the Lord always does that, doesn't it? My sweet husband even got me some stereo headphones for Mother's Day to use when I'm walking (isn't he sweet?) -he knows I love listening to the Christian radio station here. It will be nice background music and also just a great way to praise God while I'm out there. So as long as the weather cooperates, I'll keep walking!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our night on the town!

Larry and I had the opportunity to attend a fund raising event for the local hospital system here. It is the hospital his company contracts with (so essentially who he works for) so each year they buy a table and allow Larry and his coworkers to attend. It is a black tie event, so this was a bit out of my norm! I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I have dressed up in a formal gown, including the prom! It was held at the Hilton downtown, so after hiring 2 wonderful sitters to watch the kiddos, off we went! Here's a picture of us just before heading out...

It was much larger than I expected-there must have been 100 tables there and it was decorated beautifully. The theme was Alice in Wonderland, so there were people dressed up as the characters all over-there were even people dressed up as trees and flowers. We had a wonderful meal while watching the show. It was supposed to be the story of Alice in Wonderland, but in ballet form, set to rock music, if you can imagine. It was kind of odd...and loud. After the show, the dancing began! Yes, we did a little dancing (And it did feel like prom again, especially since there was quite a bit of 80's/early 90's music!) They were handing out all these Alice in Wonderland related gifts on the dance floor, like hats, necklaces, glasses, light up sticks, etc. We were able to grab a couple of hats to give to the kids. The nite ended late-we ended back home about 11:30 and still were able to get up and go to church by 9:00 am! Overall, I had a fun nite out with hubby-something I don't get to do often-and he got to see me dressed up nice-something I definitely NEVER do! This will be an event we'll definitely do next year, I'm sure!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pizza nite!

We have a lot of fun cooking and baking at our house. I love trying new stuff. It also takes a lot of food to keep my crew fed! We have one nite a week we designate as "Pizza night" at our house. We don't normally order out for pizza, but make it ourselves at home. It's cheaper, most definitely, and you get to fix it the way you want! 4 pizzas is enough for us at this point, and cooking two at a time in the oven, it doesn't really take that long. Our favorite is the meat lovers style-with pepperoni, hamburger, and ham. We also do cheese for the littler ones and usually straight pepperoni also.
I would love a veggie pizzza, but haven't been able to convince anyone else of how good it really is. I always need helpers with dinner and there are usually no shortage of those! Sarah and Eden were my two helpers this particular nite. Notice all the scrapes on Eden's face..she took a nasty spill at the playground that day.
It was Eden's first time helping with the pizza, so I think she ate more than she actually put on the pizza! With time, I'm sure she'll improve. They had a lot of fun! My hope is that not only will they enjoy the time with mom, but also learn some cooking skills which they will need when they have their own homes. Never too early to prepare, right?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A happy heart

Several days ago, I was doing my usual getting-ready-in-the-morning routine when I heard little Luke cooing, letting me know he was ready to get up. I walked in his room and peered over his crib and saw him with a big smile on his face and laughing. I was getting ready to pick him up when I looked closer and realized he was still sound asleep! I stood there for another moment and he let out another giggle, then rolled over and went back to sleep. It was adorable, really, but it got me thinking....hmmmm.....I can't remember the last time I slept like that! Really, I can't remember a time when I woke up smiling or Larry told me I was laughing in my sleep. Nope, never happened. And then I got to thinking, well, why is that? Often in the morning I feel like I hit the ground running. I am on a mission with a big to-do list! But not little Luke-really the only things he has to worry about are eating, sleeping, getting diaper changes, and having momma love on him. If there's a bill that needs to be paid, groceries that need to be bought, or appointments that need to be made, doesn't really matter to him. I,on the other hand, have so many things I HAVE to do and worry about-I just never seem to get to the end of that list. I guess sometimes I'm just so burdened down with all the things that have to be done that I forget to take time to just stop and enjoy the precious moments with my family and all the blessings the Lord has given me! I can often be too serious for my own good (or anybody elses!) and need to practice slowing down and listening to the Lord! I strive to have that childlike faith that Jesus tells us to have-not worrying or fretting, but trusting in Him and being full of joy. I thank the Lord that he gave me my precious little Luke to remind me of that. :-)

Monday, May 4, 2009

An unexpected blessing!

If you have read some of my earlier posts, you may remember some of our woes with our oven. We first started having problems when it was only 9 months old, when it started shutting off in the middle of cooking. It was sporadic at the time, so we were told by Whirlpool that they couldn't fix it unless it was doing it all the time. Fast forward another 9 was shutting off ALL the time. In order to cook anything, I'd have to turn off the oven and then restart it every 5-10 minutes. It was ridiculous looking, I'm sure, with me running around so much while trying to prepare a meal! Since it was out of warranty at that point, we called a repair person, assuming it would be maybe a couple hundred dollars for the repair. 3 trips back and almost $600 later, the oven still was not fixed. He had replaced everything possible and there was nothing left to do. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this point. As a last resort, we decided to call Whirlpool and see what their take was on our "unfixable" oven. They sent out one of their own repair people who, like the first person, judged it as not fixable. He said we'd have to take it up with customer service and see if they'd do anything about it. At this point, we figured we were just out the money and would have to also purchase a new oven. After some lengthy conversations, Larry was able to convince them to replace our defective oven with a new one (He's good at that). I could hardly believe it! That never happens-at least never to us! So just as promised, this past Saturday, our new oven was delivered!

Isn't it nice? I've already cooked in it and it works wonderfully! No having to reset the oven every five minutes! Yay! I'm so thankful for such a wonderful and unexpected blessing!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bring on the cookies!!

My girls decided they wanted to have a cookie sale in our neighborhood today with their friend who lives around the block. So in preparation, we baked TONS of chocolate chip and white chocolate chip cookies yesterday and packaged them all up, ready to sell!

Around lunchtime, we set up a table, made some signs and set up shop! Their friend brought some cupcakes to sell, too. At 50 cents a package, I was sure they'd sell some. Here's a picture of them all together-they had so much fun!

They did surprisingly well and sold all the cookies we made-minus the ones they may have eaten! They made $18. Not bad for a few hours work. More importantly, they had a great time with a friend. They're already looking forward to doing a lemonade sale!