Saturday, September 28, 2013

Soccer Days

We currently have 4 of our 6 children in activities.  Abby is doing piano and gymnastics(one day of the week each), Cody is doing a preseason basketball league, Lauren and Isaiah are both doing soccer.  

Lauren's team has had a good start to the season with 2 wins and 2 losses.  The games they lost were close and today, even though they lost, Lauren scored an AMAZING goal, her first of the season.
She is on the far right
 This girl really loves soccer and she loves to play it in cold weather.
I, for one, don't care too much for sitting in cold weather to watch a game!
 This is her 3rd season on the Pumas with Coach Kevin. 
He is amazing.  The team prays together before every game.
 He is such a good coach.  He really values teamwork and sportsmanship 
 He even does the cheers with the girls
 I had to share this pic because of the mountains.  Yes, this is our view every day.
Lauren is on the far right
 She has really improved over the last year.  I can see such a difference in her playing this season. 
She is more aggressive, passes really well, and plays really good at offense.  
Lauren on the left
 She has grown up as a young lady quite a bit, too!
She is definitely a leader on her team as one of only 2 return players

 Watching Isaiah's team play is a whole other story.  This is his first time to be in an organized sport.  They must be 6 before we begin that madness!!

He is improving as the season progresses, but I can't tell if this is something that he has in him.
I think he could do great at it, I am just not sure if he is going to be passionate about it.
 There are no such thing as positions in this league.  
 It is just a huge herd of children following the ball around the field. 
 Isaiah always makes friends with the referees.  I catch him talking to them throughout the game.  Shocker, right?
 Here is the view from his game at a different park
 Throwing the ball in.  He asks every time if he can throw it or kick it when it goes out.
 Here he is kicking a penalty kick
 This is what he is like at the end of every game.  
He is usually pretty sluggish during the last quarter.  Then, he pretty much collapses!
His season is going well so far with 3 wins and 2 losses.
 I love pics of my kids and their dad from behind.
"A Man and His Son"
 This is what Sam does during Isaiah's games
 He is pretty good
If you knew him when he was a toddler, he always amazed everyone with his scooter skills at the age of 2.  Now, he hangs out with the big kids at the skate park.  
 Laila joins in on her bike.
 Where is that girl's helmet???  
 She truly is my sunshine
 Abby had a piano recital today.  I forgot to take pictures.  She is taking a break from gymnastics until after our Africa trip so her ankle/heel injury can heal.

Cody's games are at 8:30 on Monday nights about 30 minutes away!!  Let's just say, the littles and I won't be making it to many of them.  We will catch him in the actual season on his high school team.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Time Delay

~2 weeks from today, Rick, Abby, and I leave for our trip to Africa!!!!!

~I am in full trip preparation mode!

~As a result, I am resorting to bullet points in this post.  You can almost guarantee when that happens that life is crazy daisy, as I like to call it!

~This means my blog is on time delay.  In order to accomplish all that I need to each day, everything shared here becomes a bit delayed.  

~There is lots going on in our family, in our daily lives.  I have events to share and cute pictures.

~I am really hoping to be able to catch it all up before I leave because I am going to try to blog some while I am there in REAL TIME.  : )

~For now, I will just share a couple of pieces of news:
Rick and I celebrated 19 years of marriage a couple of weeks ago with me like this:
 The kids left something at the bottom of the garage stairs, I tripped, I landed on my knee on the concrete, and shattered my phone.  Let's just say, I was a bit grumpy and very concerned that I was going to need some major medical intervention.  THANKFULLY, it was just a really bad bruise/sprain, and I am on the mend.  The only thing I can't do now is go down on my knee.  I am so glad I do not need surgery or a cast!

Abby actually hurt her ankle the next day and is now in physical therapy.  I will share a picture later of her little treatment contraption.  Both of us need to be able to move about while we are in AFRICA IN TWO WEEKS!!

We took Cody out for his bday date. 
I will call this picture "The Man-Child with his Dad."
 Here is the artsy photo.
I will call this "The Thinking Man-Child with his Thinking Dad"
 Almost overnight, Sam's vision went from good to blurry while he was reading. 
Yesterday, he got these puppies in.  He loves them and they are orange on the sides(his favorite color).
 I just had to share this sweet photo of my honey and 3 babies.  
So, we are getting things in order for our trip.  Did I mention we are leaving in 2 weeks for Africa?  Rick and I have a "meeting" tomorrow with each other to talk through details.  We only have about $1,500 left to fully fund our flights and land package.  

Everything in me is getting antsy to leave and step on Swazi soil.  It truly is a second home to me. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Women of Faith

I just need to start this post by saying my friend, Julie, is a rock star.  She is actually more a member of our family.  We met her when Sam was a baby.  One day, she came to me and said, "If you ever need someone to watch the kids so you and Rick can have a date, just let me know.  I would love to watch them for you."  That is like music to a weary mama's ears.  The rest is history.  Here were are, 9 years later.  She has been there with us through a lot, given us lots of date nights, come to lots of kids sporting events and activities, and even given us some overnights away!!  She is working for Women of Faith.  She blessed me with tickets to the conference in Denver a couple of weeks ago.  Let's not talk about the fact that she is moving to Dallas in October!  : (

My friend, Laura Fowler, yes that is what we call her around here was able to join me at the conference.  Calling her "Laura Fowler" really started with Isaiah.  I think he was just overwhelmed by all the Laura's in his life.  So, she became Laura Fowler, and now, it just works.  

First stop on our weekend getaway, Starbucks.
This is me taking my first sip of my first Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate of the season!
It was delightful!
Our lovely abode for the night.
Have I mentioned how much I LOVE staying in a hotel?!?!
We stayed at the Marriott, Downtown Denver so we were within walking distance to the Pepsi Center where the conference was being held.
We even took the scenic route around downtown Denver the first night, right Laura(wink!).
My friend, Laura.  What a blessing she is in my life.   She is a keeper for sure!
We had a little Mexican Fiesta for Lunch!!
The conference was a Friday evening and all day Saturday.  
The theme was BELIEVE!
Worship was led by Kari Jobe and Gateway Church Worship Team.
It was AH-MAZ-ING!!  
I love this shot that Laura took of me during worship.
I have never been to a Women of Faith Conference before.  I wasn't sure if I would like it.  I have to say, I was so blessed by it.  God used EVERY speaker to speak truth to me.  I left with lots of inspiration from all those that led.  Each one offered a different word that I needed to hear.  
Anita Renfroe opened up the night.  
Can I just say, I am pretty sure she and I could be good friends.  I love her sense of humor.  Everything she said not only made me laugh, but resonated within me!!
Lysa Terkheurst also spoke.  I have loved her books "Made to Crave" and "Unglued."  
Getting to hear her speak was such a treat.
For some reason, I didn't take pictures of any of the other speakers, but I loved them.  Let's just say the weekend was truly refreshing in every way, spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically.  I felt so blessed to go.

On the way home, we made a stop in Denver and ate at the Cheesecake Factory.  It was the first time I had been there, and I will definitely go back.  Loved it!!  It was a great way to end our time together.

Thanks again, Julie!!  We had such a blast!  Thanks, Laura for joining me in this fun weekend.  I am pretty sure we did not stop talking the whole time unless we were sleeping or listening to a speaker.  Even once we said goodbye, I could think of 10 more things for us to talk about.  It is a good friend who will talk to me non-stop for 2 whole days.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What am I supposed to do with a 15 year old???

Do you remember when you had your first baby, and you were ready to leave the hospital?  Many have this moment of "Now what?  How do I take care of this little thing?  What if I don't do it right?  Are we going to survive this?"  

I didn't really go through that with my newborns.  I am not saying I had all the answers.  By no means did I do it all right.  I just felt confident.  I felt like I was finally doing what I had been created to do.  

It was hard.  There were many exhausting days and sleepless nights.  I can't even tell you the number of times I thought, "well, they are probably going to need counseling after the way I handled that situation!"  I could sit for hours and tell you how I would parent the same and differently than I have.  

Cody is our first child.  That 7lb. 11oz. baby boy, now looks like this, a man-child of sorts, I tell ya!
He is taller than me by 4 inches and wears men's size 12 shoes!
 When I look at that boy, I have that feeling that many have with newborns.  "How do I take care of this thing?"  He is so big and so independent and yet still not grown.  He believes he is ready to tackle the world on his own, but I know there are still things left for him to learn.  Still things that I can teach him.  How do we maneuver this phase called the teenage years and come out on the other side healthy, whole and still in relationship with each other?  These are the questions I wrestle with in the middle of the night. 

Cody has the brilliant blessing(said with sarcasm) of being the firstborn of this family.  He is the guinea pig.  We are practicing on him and making changes based on those experiences.  We do parent all of our kids a bit differently because of their personalities, but he gets the brunt of our experimentation.  

I shudder when I think of what I have put him through at times, but then deep inside my heart, I know that God knew all of that when He gave us him and gave him us. He made this kid the firstborn.  He made us his parents.  I just have to trust Him each step of the way.  

We started his big day (August 31, I know I am way behind on this one!) with a breakfast of pancakes and coffee.  I promised I would not share those pictures because everyone was fresh out of bed.  Just visualize it for yourself.

Then, all the kids gave him the gifts they picked out and paid for with their own money:
Laila got him Whales and Snow cone Syrup(for his snow cone machine)
 Sam got him a Yo Yo ball
 Isaiah got him peppermints
 Lauren gave him cheese salt for popcorn
 Abby gave him an Arizona Sweet Tea with a $5 bill around the neck of it!
 For Birthday fun he wanted to spend the afternoon at Brunswick Zone with some friends.
 They played basketball,
 video games, and laser tag!
Our evening ended with pizza
and ice cream(mint chocolate chip is his favorite)
We also watched a guy movie, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.  Rick and Cody mostly watched it while I sat in the room and worked on grocery lists and things like that.

I know I am your mom and moms aren't very cool at your age, but I love you fiercely and nothing can change that.  NOTHING!  This next year holds big milestones for you, starting high school, learning to drive, becoming more of a man than a kid.  You are going to begin making decisions that will chart the course for the rest of your life.  I am finding that my lack of control in this stage scares me a bit.  Can you help me learn how to be a good mom to you?  I know your brothers and sisters will thank you for breaking me in. Know that everything I do is out of my love for you and my desire to see you become the man God has created you to be.

You are a strong, determined young man.  You are a leader.  You are articulate.  You see those who are struggling and you reach out to help.  You could pursue so many things and do really well at all of them.  I am praying that you will find that one thing that brings you life, that thing that God has put in your heart to do.  I pray you will hone in on it and run hard after it.

We don't see eye-to-eye anymore because you are taller than me!  When I look up at you, I think, "God, you called me to be his mom.  Show me how to do that now!"  I can't make many promises in this life, but I can promise to do my very best as your mom.

May this year be the best one yet!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In Full Swing

School is in full swing around here.  I am driving more than I EVER have.  I had a period of less than 3 days where I drove over 300 miles(one full tank of gas) and never left town.  That is from a combination of school dropoffs and pickups, sports and activities practices, and the social lives of my kids.

I have now attended 4 "Back-to-School Nights."  So glad those are over!  I love meeting the kids' teachers, but I hate being gone in the evenings.  I am in full mom mode from 3:00 in the afternoon when I leave to pick up the kids until 10:00 at night when they are all finally in their rooms.

That is one of the new challenges for me with older kids.  They stay up later and "invade"our  "me/us time."  Rick and I love to end the day watching some of our DVR'd shows.  That has become more complicated with kids staying up later.  I feel like I see him even less because we both have so many demands on us with the kids.

Speaking of bedtimes, here is our philosophy.  We have bedtimes for our kids at graduated times depending on grade until 8th grade.  Then, they are on their own with the decision of how long to stay up.  They learn pretty quickly that if they don't get enough sleep, they are a mess the next day.  Some families do this much earlier than us.  This seems to work for us.  We also need our down time at night.  We try to make the rule that everyone is off the main level by 8:30 on school nights.  Here is our schedule of bedtimes for school-aged children:
7:30 - Kindergarten - 2nd grade
8:00 - 3rd-5th grade
8:30 - 6th grade
9:00 - 7th grade
You decide - 8th grade and up

August was a busy month.  I feel like I kind of collapsed physically and emotionally at the end of it.  I am still feeling the effects in the form of exhaustion.  Even though I have mornings to myself, I find that recharging during that time doesn't really relieve the deep exhaustion I feel.  Most days I end up "working" anyway during that time.

Laila got to go on her Kindergarten Birthday Breakfast with Rick and me.  When we told her we were going to Gunther Toody's, she wasn't so sure about that.  She had never eaten there, and the name was concerning to her!
 Coloring with Daddy.  I love watching these two together!
 The Big Bopper Breakfast for our Baby Girl!
 I thought it would be fun to look at some pics from the other kids' Kindergarten breakfast as well.  So, let's take a walk down memory lane!
I do not have any pics on my computer from the first day of school 2008.
I am hoping they are on Rick's computer.  
Here is a pic of Abby in Kindergarten! (Sorry, Abby)
 Lauren and I did a girls' night by going to the One Direction 3D movie.  It was fun!  I think I was only one of 5 adults in the whole theater.  I got a great lesson on teenage girl culture that night.  I felt pretty special that she would want to go with me!!
 For Labor Day, we went to the movies as a family.  That is a once or twice a year event.  We went to see "Planes"
Outside the theater

 Afterwards, the kids used their money to play in the arcade

 I love that you can see her reflection in the mirror.
This chick almost always gets something in these machines!
 I just had to capture this little quirk of Isaiah's.  When he is at home, he only wears one sock.  When asked about it, he says, "It just feels better!"  Whatever floats your boat, buddy!

Phew!  It feels good to play catch up.  We do now have a 15 year old in the house.  I will share about his bday soon!  I also got to go to the Women of Faith conference last weekend.  That was such a treat!  Rick and I are doing an overnight for our anniversary, too!!  I am looking forward to a night away with the love of my life!!  Pics to follow.