Monday, November 30, 2015

Personal Space


Christmas decorating officially began! (Mom likes to save it for after Thanksgiving and none of us are really into Black Friday shopping.) Mom and Dad moved everything out of the living room to thoroughly clean everything before putting away year-round decorations and pulling out the Christmas ones. 

We have been adding to this 
little village since Mom and Dad got married. 

The kids all had to tidy and clean their rooms before they could set up any of their own little decorations in them. In the early afternoon they had all finished. I was exempted from this since my room was already clean.

Uncle Phil came over to play Poker and Life. 

I had somewhere I had to be for several hours in the afternoon. Mom and some of the other adult members of our extended family got massages while I was gone, and everyone visited, rested, and played games. 

When I returned we all worked together making pizza and then ate together (with Nana, Grandfather, Aunt Lauren, and Uncle Phil) and watched "The Christmas Candle." We all really liked the movie! 


Mom and Dad went to breakfast with Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil while the rest of us slept in, worked on more Christmas decorating, played (blogged for me), and took showers. 

Mom and Dad had errands to run so by the time they got back it was time for some rest time and then to finish getting ready for church. 

Church was very special. I crave the time we have at church all week. Every time we go I get filled up, encouraged, and prepared to go live for Christ through the week. 

At home Nana and Grandfather came to watch a little football with Christian, and Dad worked on getting our tree lighted. Not on fire.


We got up a little earlier than we usually do on Sundays (so at 8:30, definitely not complaining *wink*) so we could get the house tidied up from our Christmas decorating and prepare to share brunch with a new friend from church. 

We invited this guy to come for brunch so that we could get to know him better. (He just started coming to our church in the last month.) His sweet sister was in town for Thanksgiving so we told him she was welcome to come as well. 

They ate brunch with us (primary table topics of conversation; sports and Maui) and then helped us to decorate our tree. 

Ready for ornaments

Plenty of helpers. 

Once the tree was completed (in record time, by the way) the kids asked our new friends to play "Life" the board game. I got roped into that as well and wow that was an interesting game. Lots of fun for sure. 

Then our new friend challenged me to a game of "Speed" the card game. I accidentally beat him.

Everyone was sad when they had to leave and told them that they were officially family now and had to come back as soon as possible, like, tomorrow. 

The rest of the afternoon we had rest time and then had a double feature, featuring "A Princess for Christmas" and "Pirates of the Caribbean 2." Somewhere in there we ate food. 

This past week was so nice, getting to relax our sleep schedules and do less school and focus on family time and memory making. I loved it. Now back to normal work. 

The Herd: Quoted 

"Mia, Gabe, there is something called 'personal space' and you are invading your new friend's." -Mom

"Oh no, I have to be the entertainer. I am not entertaining..." -Me playing Life.
"Um, some people think so..." -Mom, as everyone else laughs.

"This is confusing." -Mia watching Pirates of the Caribbean Two.

"This makes so much more sense the third time through!" -Me watching Pirates of the Caribbean Two.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tournament and Thanksgiving

*Ducks head lower and lower* This post is way overdue.... 


Chloe, Christian, and I had our first speech and debate tournament, finally! And now you will finally actually get to hear- er -read about how it went.

After 5 hours of sleep, my day started at 4:30. I had to get myself ready, but then also be Chloe's hair stylist and makeup artist. I also really wanted at least a few minutes to read my Bible and pray. 

Mom and us older ones had to leave the house by 6:00 am to get there by 7:30 for check in. We competed at Irving Bible Church, which is a huge facility. On the way we, of course, stopped for coffee. Walking into Starbucks in professional attire we felt immensely slightly over dressed... 

Here is the schedule for the two day tournament. 

I watched Chloe and Christian's first debate whilst drinking my coffee and knitting. (I knit by the way.) They were well matched, and probably won the debate! 

Announcements were made in the common area (aka where everyone hung out in between rounds) and then, the first round of speeches began. 

Chloe and I were supposed to go last with our duo in our assigned room, but another team came running to us saying that no one was in the room and we should go first because the judges were all waiting. 

The room (a nursery) was full of people wanting to watch the ever-popular duo event. So we did not feel nervous or intimidated in the least. 

Chloe had been super nervous up until we entered the room, and then she was fine! Acting is one of her strong suits. If she is playing a character, she is a totally different person. People often can't believe it's actually Chloe they are watching perform. 

I was not nervous at all until I walked up in front of the judges. Then I felt really shaky. (I probably should have eaten more than just a yogurt cup for breakfast...) But my character was freaked out because she is going to be eaten by a tiger, so I was able to channel my shakiness into an incredible performance. 

We both felt really good about how we did. As far as I know, we only made one slight mistake, and the judges all missed it. 

After that, we got to watch other speeches and visit with our friends. 

Mom had judging duties, so I did not see her until lunch. Her favorite thing to judge was Lincoln-Douglas Debate, which is shorter than Team Policy, and is a value debate versus a policy debate. 

There was another debate round around noon, and then the speech pattern, in which Christian's persuasive speech took place. Then another debate, and finally the second round of speeches for Chloe and I. 

The same thing happened again. We were to go last and then got called to go first. I was less nervous this time, but my left arm and shoulder were sore from I don't know what. Anyways we both felt good about it. 

We were able to leave and go home a little earlier than we had expected which was really nice. 

Of course Dad and the others were very eager to hear how our day had been. 

A few more random things I got to do along with speaking and watching debates were, I got to drink coffee, visit with friends, meet new people, compare hand sizes with someone, laugh, learn, get startled, acquire swollen feet (from wearing heels which I never do), wish someone a happy 18th birthday, flip my hair in someone's face, cheer people on, and more. 


Day two, Chloe was happy to do her own hair and makeup, so I didn't get up until 5:30am. 

We got coffee again and were ready to go. 

Highlights of the day, or just notable things, I got to experience death by heels, watch an incredible debate and freak out the debaters because I looked like I was going to cry, get rescued by "drugs" (just a normal pain killer, whose name I can not spell, don't worry), and many of the same things as yesterday. It's amazing how fast the tournament went by and how close you feel to those you get to be stressed out and nervous and almost cry with.

I was wearing heels, that is the only reason I was the tallest.

For the first round of debate, I went to watch two of the advanced teams from our club go against each other. They did an amazing job! I kept getting asked who I would have voted for, and I honestly don't know. 

Because I was the only audience member, aside from the judge, I had no problem taking my high heel shoes off. 

My left shoulder began hurting so badly during the round, that I almost had tears sliding down my cheeks. After the round all four of the debaters were asking what they had done to make me look like I was going to cry while watching them. My explanation made them feel much better, and one of them happened to be carrying pain killer with him and offered me some for relief. 

Nana came to watch for a little while. Christian's second speech round began mid-morning, and I got to go watch him. He did a really nice job! 

The fifth round of debates started around noon, and then speech finals were announced. Duo Interpretation just had a third round instead of finals, so Chloe and I got to do it again. This time we actually did get to go almost last. I think the third round was probably our best performance yet. 

Finally the last round of debates began. Chloe and Christian hit another team from our club. I made it halfway through watching them before I had to leave to find more pain killer. My arm and shoulder hurt so badly that I stopped moving as much as possible. Even walking and turning my head hurt. I was so grateful that it did not hurt as badly while we did our last round of speech duo. 

We were pretty sure that Chloe and Christian, as beginners, were not going to be in debate finals, and speech finals were all over by the time Chloe and Christian's debate ended, so we told everyone goodbye, and left about 5:45 to go to church. 

By the end of the tournament, Christian was super excited. He had a great time, learned a lot, and made friends. He wanted to talk about all the different debates and work on improving their case as soon as we got in the car. He was tired, but energized because of all the time he had just spent with people. 

Chloe was mental and physically exhausted. She did not want to talk about debate, or our duo, or anything. The tournament was stretching to her in many ways, and whenever she could, she had escaped to a quiet table to read and recharge alone. 

I am so proud of both Chloe and Christian. They did an amazing job, especially considering it was their first ever tournament. Each of them handled stress differently, and neither method was wrong. They both learned a lot, and are looking forward to the next tournament and competing next year! 

Mom was worn out from the tournament too, but had enjoyed judging, watching us, and observing so many polite, respectful, well-dressed, kind young people to something that they truly enjoy. 

I thought the tournament was really, really fun. It wore me out just like everyone else, but energized me, because I love being around people and getting to be an encourager. I had fun competing, but my favorite part was just getting to be there to support my siblings and friends. Part of me wishes we would have started this when I was younger, so that I could learn more, and do more events, but I am really excited to get to continue to, at least, be involved because my younger siblings will be doing it in the future. 

We got to church before Dad and the other kids! Everyone there wanted to hear about the tournament, and how we had placed, but because we had left before the awards thing, we didn't know what to tell them aside from our own opinion. 

After the service we had our Thanksgiving potluck meal all together. 


Mom and Dad took Christian to Seven Mile Cafe for his birthday breakfast, and then they ran some errands. The rest of us slept because we were worn out from the tournament and the late night at church. 

Happy 15th birthday, Christian! I bet this is the last year you will be my "little" brother. You are an incredibly unique young man, and I am so grateful that God has placed you in my life. You are not afraid to speak your mind and stand up for what you believe and who you love. You are a protector. And you are growing more and more each day into the man God has created you to become. I love you!

Gramma and Grandpa came over around noon to eat pizza and other snacks and, for some, watch the Cowboy's football game. (The rest of us visited.)

The kids got Grandpa to help them with Christmas lists.

Christian likes food. Shocking, I know.

Did I miss something here?

 I'm not understanding what cutting into the plastic lid here is going to do...

Gramma helped me finally hang things up in my room!

And I got my desk set up. 

After the game Gramma and Grandpa headed home and the rest of us had a little down time. Then Nana and Aunt Cendei came for dinner and to watch "Max." 


I had work during the day. 

The others had a low key morning, and then all left to go to Six Flags for Holiday in the Park with friends. I was invited to join them after work, but decided that I would have even more fun at home. By myself. 

I got home about 4:30 ,and might have turned the music way up, so that it could have possibly been heard plainly from any room in the house, and then threw a party for one. That means that I tidied up the whole house, did laundry, and cleaned my room and bathroom. I was probably dancing and singing too. I don't sound like a mom, do I? Being excited to have the house to myself so I can do chores..? 

When the work was done, I got into comfy clothes and settled down with knitting and chocolate pie to watch "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Yeah, I had just as much fun alone as I would have had at Six Flags.

The others had a grand time and got home late. Mia wanted to ride everything.

Dad, Mia, and Victoria ready to conquer the Runaway Mine Train.
Just ignore that photo-bomber. 


Everyone except me slept in pretty late. By the time I was leaving for a friend's house at 8:30 am some were beginning to stir. 

Those at home had friends over to visit and play.

I had coffee with my friend, and we took the little two year boy she was watching on a good long walk so we could visit more. 

A little before noon, I headed to meet Gramma at an Antique Mall for lunch and to look for a Hope Chest. We had a nice time together, but didn't find what we were looking for. 

On the way home I went to Walmart for Mom. 

I pulled dinner together and after we ate, Dad and the four younger ones went to get our Christmas tree and a fish for Ava.

Ava loves animals, just like Chloe, but she especially loves water animals. She has been wanting to get a fish for a long, long, long time and has been saving for a tank and everything else that she would need. Someone actually gave her a tank recently and some money to help pay for things. She is now the proud owner for a beautiful, blue betta fish. 

Dad may or may not have somehow stepped in a stinky pile of dog stuff. That'll smell up the car... 

While they were gone, I worked on composing a piano song while Chloe watched. Then the three of us watched some "Dr Quinn" episodes. 


Mom finished baking 12 pans of cinnamon rolls for us, and anyone else who ordered them. 

In the afternoon we had some friends from out of town come over to visit. 

Mom and Ava went out for dinner and to see "Pan." Gabe and Mia decided to watch "Pirates of the Caribbean" and us older ones watched "Parental Guidance." Dad worked so he could be off later.


Happy Thanksgiving! 

We all left at 9:30 am to go over to Gramma's house for the day. With us, we took two pans of cinnamon rolls to eat in front of everyone else to share with family along, with other brunch foods.

Our big meal was later in the afternoon.

Gramma set a beautiful table. 

Everyone worked together to clean up. 

In between eating, the kids played upstairs, and everyone else visited. 

There was a perfection tournament, and guess who won? Mom, of course! (I got second.) 

This is a game that makes jumpy people and small children scream. Dad, Uncle Dan, and I were the guilty ones. 

Gramma had also printed out some word searches. They were hard, but fun! We learned that it is much easier to find something when you know what you are looking for. 

Dessert was our dinner. 

We headed out close to 6:00 through the rain. 

At home everyone changed into pajamas and then Nana, Grandfather, Aunt Lauren, and Uncle Phil came over to watch "Elf" with us. 

I've Been Pondering 

The Herd: Quoted 

"I'd much rather you be taking them to their first speech and debate tournament then to get ready for one of them to walk down the isle to be married." -Dad as we were leaving for the first day of the tournament.

"I got up at 5:00 am and took a really nice 30 minute hot shower. That was a nice way to get good and awake before putting my suit on." -Christian 

"So basically you want to eat and watch tv." -Me after Christian described how he'd like his birthday to go. 

"Are we doing school this week?" -Mom
"No!" -All five of the other kids.
"I will cook and clean if I don't have to do school." -Christian
"Second the motion!" -Chloe 
"Okay, I guess we are not doing school!" -Mom 

"Gramma! Puppies! Awesome faces!" -Gabe when Gramma arrived. 

"I'll be in my room..." -Me carrying the Panara Bread Bagel container away jokingly. 

"Any idea what I should call that one? All my other ones are called 'the first song I wrote,' 'the second song I wrote,' etc..." -Me to Dad as I finished playing my new song.
"There is a reason that there are songs called 'Beethoven's Fifth.'" -Dad 

"I did not bring my wallet." Dad on the way to Gramma's. 
"Dad!!" -Everyone in the car. 

"Pretty soon you are going to be opening an orphanage, Lydia." -Gabe 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pre-Tournament Stress and Nerves

Monday Chloe went to work, Dad had a meeting, and the rest of us had a normal day at home. Because of storms the small group I babysit for was canceled. I used the extra time to work on my NaNoWriMo story. Chloe and I are both way behind. But we are both determined to finish our stories eventually. That may not happen by the end of November, but it will happen at some point. Most likely. Hopefully. 

Tuesday Kate did not come. *Sad face* 

I took Chloe to work again (she has not quite gotten her driver's license yet, so we are taking turns driving her around). 

Fall is so beautiful in Texas. 
I love that we still have fair weather and green grass. 

I've passed this scene by the road every time I've ever left my house and yet I've never seen it before. Not really. Why is it that we pass things by in life so often, and never stop to appreciate them? Why do we let moments and conversations and even smiles rush past and hardly pause to take them in? Why are we always running to get to the next thing when one precious moment is right in front of us? Let's stop the speeding treadmill and embrace the slow walk where we can actually see what is in front of us and truly praise God for the beauty of the moments and scenes surrounding us.

Since passing my literature CLEP test I have begun studying to take the United States History I CLEP test. It is challenging, but good. 

We had small group that night and this time it was actually small, just about 20 people, I think. Nevertheless it was still so encouraging and just what all of us were needing. God is so good. 

Wednesday we had a normal school morning and then I took Chloe and Christian to our friends' house where a Debate Workshop took place in the late afternoon and evening. I stayed there for a little while, serving coffee, etc and then went to have dinner with a friend. I returned in time to pick Chloe and Christian up. They had a grand time and everyone was really goofy and tired when I got back. 

Thursday was a day of final preparations for Chloe, Christian, and I before our Speech and Debate tournament this weekend. I have been to many tournaments with friends as an observer so I know what to expect and generally how things work. Chloe and Christian are more nervous than I am because they don't know what to expect and they are in debate. 

It's so interesting to see how different people handle stress and nerves. Christian likes to talk about his stress and worries and vent all his thoughts and feelings to whomever will listen. Chloe bottles it all up and gets more and more nervous as time goes on. I tend to not get nervous at all until either in the moment of performance (or else whatever is happening) or after is it over. I can not be nervous at all about speaking but then shake uncontrollably during the event. Or nothing will happen until I finish, and then I will get shaky and nervous and all that. All that was for if you happen to be interested in how we are handling the nerves about our upcoming tournament. 

We packed all our food for Friday on Thursday night and all showered, and laid out our professional dress clothing, and packed our bags, and entertained thoughts about maybe sleeping a little bit if possible. 

That Moment When...

You can't remember which eyeshadow you just put on your eyelid.

Someone pokes you in the back and scares you so bad you scream really loudly at a gathering. 

Someone else scares you in the dark and you scream again. 

Someone else else runs at your car dancing in the dark. 

You decide you are glad you have learned to laugh at yourself. 

The Herd: Quoted 

"Did Mia say anything funny tonight?" -Mom
"You're asking me?" -Dad 
"Oh yeah, you fell asleep during the movie." -Mom 

"We have to be combatible, combatible?" -Me
"Compatible?" -Chloe
"Yeah, just making up new words." -Me 

"In the story they both die, but then they meet up in heaven again, probably." -Mia to Gabe 

"I am so stressed, I drank 21 cups of tea today." -Chloe 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Test Day, Take Two

Wednesday morning Chloe worked at her new job with a local photographer and Mom, Christian, and I went to find Christian a suit for Speech and Debate Tournaments and a few other things like fall/winter shoes for Mom, some makeup products for me, etc. 

We ate at Five Guys for lunch I know, I just shocked 99% of you reading this because we ate somewhere else besides Chick-fil-a and then kept shopping. We were supposed to only be gone for a few hours, but we ended up not getting home until almost 5:00 pm. 

At home I convinced Dad that we should go eat dinner at Babe's so that Mom didn't have to cook. It was also my idea to invite Aunt Cendei to go with us. She then tried to surprise us kids by showing up at the restaurant, but word got out in the car. Gabe was a little late catching on to it. There is always at least one person who is not paying any attention at all. Those people vary at different times, however. 

We had a very pleasant dinner and got home in time to greet Uncle Adam and his daughter who is close to Mia's age, Geneva. 

Thursday morning I left at 9:00 to go take my first CLEP test at UNT. The test was scheduled for 10:00 and I arrived 30 minutes early so I would have plenty of time to find parking. I was told to go one place so I could park for a few minutes, go get a day parking pass, and then go park across the street. 

Well, when I got there, the parking was blocked off with cones and the other parking lot was full. So I drove around for a while to see if there was a parking area that was not reserved. There was not. An hour later I was lost, my GPS was taking me to the wrong places, the testing office was not answering the phone, there was no parking anywhere, I couldn't find anyone to ask for help, I was very much regretting my big cup of coffee before I left, and I was crying. 

I pulled over and called the testing place to reschedule because I'd missed my testing time. I think it was probably pretty evident to the guy on the phone that I was crying.

Two hours after leaving home I was heading back having taken no test. I wasn't exactly feeling all too joyful about the situation and I had no idea why, but it was very evident that it was not a part of God's plan for me to take that test that day. In that I had comfort and later found joy. It was hard nonetheless especially since I'm the type of person who likes to get things over with as soon as possible. (Like taking tests.) 

Mom made me a yummy hot drink to cheer me up at home and I moved on with my day. 

Dad took us to club that afternoon and evening. Chloe and I got final feedback on our duo before our first tournament and Christian got more help with his speech. (It is still being written.) I know we will all be ready when the time comes and we are so grateful for the help we get at club. 

Chloe and Christian debated that night, but I decided to watch a different debate. It went a little long with Chloe and Christian, but as always I think it was good for them. 

While we were at club Grandfather hung out with Gabe and Ava while Mom, Mia, Nana, Uncle Adam, and Geneva went to Medieval Times in Dallas. (It's a show that is set in the medieval time period and has jousting and other fighting and all this other stuff. The audience is assigned different knights to cheer for, etc.) 

Mia and Geneva were really, really, really excited to watch the handsome men fight. And they both were thrown carnations. We will never hear the end of it. 

Mia and her favorite knight.

Friday morning was test day, take two for me and this time Grandfather offered to drop me off and pick me up for my test so I would not have to be anxious about parking. 

For those of you wondering, no, I was not nervous or stressed and I don't know why. I just wasn't. Was I concerned about not passing? YES. 

I was plenty early again which gave me time to ask five different people how to get to the testing center. I did find it eventually. 

There was only one other person testing at the same time that I was and the two guys running the place were very patient with me. (I could not for the life of me figure out how the locker worked.)

I was taking the CLEP test for Analyzing and Interpreting Literature. It took me about an hour and I did pass! I was so relieved. 

Late afternoon and evening was birthday party time for Nana at our house. We made taco salad bowls and then had ice cream and cookies for dessert. 

Dad had finally gotten a call from the Doctor's office saying that his first heart tests showed nothing to be concerned about. That was very happy news to share with everyone. 

After dinner Chloe and I performed our duo and then Uncle Adam sampled for us some of the songs he will be singing when he stars in a musical this winter! 

Saturday morning started at 5:30 for Mom and us four older kids. We left at 6:00 to take our two truck loads of stuff to the house where our church garage sale was to be held. Chloe and I went to get everyone breakfast from Chick-fil-a and then met the others at the house to unload and finish helping set up. 

Other church people arrived to help and brought more things to sell. We had people beginning to come by as early at 7:30. 

When doing a huge garage sale someone has to do the Starbucks run!

Chloe and I were not really needed any more by 8:30 and so volunteered to go home and take naps for everyone else. Naps never happened, though.

At home the other kids were playing with their cousins outside and Dad was working. Chloe and I both did some writing (we are extremely behind...) and I worked on laundry and made chili. 

About 3:00 Gabe and I left for church to go work on Operation Christmas Child boxes with some other families. 

The other kids were helping Aunt Cendei with different things, Mom was with a friend after finishing the garage sale, and Dad was still working. They all arrived at church in time for the service.

The box packing went very quickly and I think we did 52 boxes. 

After church we visited for a bit and then went home to eat and go to bed because everyone was very tired. 

Sunday was very slow and restful. (The dreary weather set the stage really well for that.) We had our brunch meal and then the afternoon saw most people in their rooms being quiet reading, or resting, or listening to a story, or playing quietly. The boys also watched some football. 

In the evening after dinner Aunt Amy and Rowan came over to visit. 

This was eaten for dessert.

The Herd: Quoted 

"I want my usual, eat off the table." -Gabe on the way to Babe's
"Yup, that's my usual too, I eat the table." -Mia
"That would make a very solid meal." -Chloe  

"I'll drive with you." -Chloe
"No, I will drive by myself and you can sit in the seat next to me." -Me 

"Whoever is still downstairs in 5 minutes has to pay the next mortgage bill." -Mom at bedtime 
"We don't  have a mortgage." -Me
"Oh yes we do!" -Dad

"But it's exposed to the elements!" -Christian 
"Yellow mints?!" -Mia 
"Its the table of yellow mints!" -Me 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Exploding Barn

Saturday was pretty slow for most everyone, I believe.

I think Dad worked on budgeting and exercised and worked. Mom sewed some on the quilt she's been trying to finish for a long time. The kids played together. Christian and Grandfather went down to the woods really early to hunt. Chloe did some writing. I caught up on a bunch of stuff and nailed down plans for the coming week.

We left early for church to go to Costco and one other place on the way.

Nap time!

It was Aunt Cendei's birthday so she threw herself a party for the church! It was so wonderful to worship with our church family and then celebrate her afterwards. And I love church meals. They are a lot of work, but so fun and I actually enjoy working with everyone to clean up. (And helping with all the kids is my favorite of course.) 

We got home pretty late and the littles were all asleep. (As was Christian.) The rest of us were about to turn the lights out when Mom and I both heard what sounded like an explosion. It was too loud for a gun, we thought. Mom speculated that maybe it was fireworks at the racetrack or a plane crash (because we felt the whatever it was as well as heard it). We decided not to worry about it.

A few minutes later Chloe came into my room and said to look out the window. I joked and replied, "What? Is the backyard on fire or something?" When she said, "Actually, yes" it took me .3 seconds to get to the window and look out. We could see a glow behind our barn and smoke.

As quietly as we could, we ran down to Mom and Dad's room and told them to look outside. They told us to run and get Nana and Grandfather. Meanwhile Dad got on jeans and Mom called 911. 

It took a lot of ringing the doorbell and pounding on the door to get Nana and Grandfather up. Grandfather went straight to their back porch. 

It was our neighbor's goat barn, right down the hill in the woods. And it was big. 

The emergency dispatcher was asking Mom if she saw firetrucks because the neighbor had already called in the fire, but the trucks were having trouble getting access to it. 

Once they arrived we could see all the lights from Nana and Grandfather's porch and Grandfather took off to go see if he could help. 

Mom and I were transformed into leaves caught in a hurricane. We were shaking so, so bad. Not from the cold (even though we were in our pajamas and barefoot), but from the ginormous adrenaline rush we both got. (Believe me, when I was told to go get Nana and Grandfather, I ran faster than I have ever run.) 

We couldn't see the barn, but we could see the huge glowing ball in the woods and we could see smoke. We could also hear the metal of the barn creaking and then finally the water spraying on the fire. Because there had been so much rain a few days ago the trees were safe and the fire did not spread to the gas well 200 feet away. 

Grandfather came back with the report. The barn was full of hay and goats and tractors. The fuel for the tractors was all around the barn. Somehow a spark caught the fuel and there was an explosion. Our neighbor was down there very quickly but the barn is gone and several goats were killed. 

On the left are the firetrucks and on the right is the fire. 
It's pretty hard to see, but it was huge. 

Nana, Mom, Chloe, and I all went to the neighbors' house to see if there was anything we could do, but there wasn't. 

We heard the explosion about 11:30, woke up Nana and Grandfather about 11:45, and it was all over about 12:15. I know this will come as a surprise to most of you, but going to sleep after that was not easy. 

Sunday morning I was the first one up, at 8:00. I made coffee and then went back to my bed to have my quiet time and rest. 

I've been Pondering...

This has been a week... 

All of Dad's family showed up at our door came over for brunch and part of the afternoon to celebrate Grandpa's birthday. Gramma brought the new puppies, Royce and Ranger. 

In her happy place.

Taking stock of the feast.

There was plenty of food; pancakes, skillet vegetables, french toast, sausage, egg casserole, muffins, fruit, and more. 

Opening his gifts (with his personal gift un-wrapper assistant). 

Dessert was (of course) cake and Blue Bell Ice Cream. (It's a Linn thing.) 

The kids played outside with the puppies while everyone else took a nap visited in the living room. It didn't take long for Thanksgiving to be all planned out with an email sent too. 

After everyone left we all had some rest time and then welcomed Aunt Amy and Rowan who are here for the week! 

The rest of the evening was pretty typical of Sundays around here. 

Monday morning Chloe and I left at 8:00 to go to a friend's house. From there we went with them to a mall in Dallas to find Speech and Debate tournament clothing. The dress "code" is work professional and, obviously, modest. Mom would have taken us, but they offered and it was decided that since they knew what they were doing, we'd be more efficient going with them. 

They made us coffee, really good, coffee with their espresso machine and we formed a plan and headed out. We mainly looked at things in Forever 21 and H&M. In the middle we took a lunch break in the food court. (Anyone want to guess where we chose to get food?) 

All of us that went found what we were looking for in good time and it was so fun to do it together. 

After we finished we got more coffee, but this time in the mall. 

An amazing caramel latte. 

We got home just in time for me to turn around and leave with Nana and Grandfather to babysit for their small group. I was worn out, but definitely ready to snuggle babies. I even got to rock myself baby Kyle to sleep! 

Tuesday Mom and the littles left for Bubble Land and then Town Talk. They were gone most of the day. 

Kate came and did take her naps! 

Sleepy me and giggly her. 

Faces when playing with ice

Baby Tips-

When a baby is teething they usually drool more than usual. They can also be more fussy and tend to put their fingers or toys in their mouth. Sometimes they will have a slight fever, but it is nothing to be concerned about. An ice cube to suck on can feel really good to them, just make sure they don't choke on it. 

That moment when...

Kate feeds Gabe her carrot.

Your next door neighbor's barn explodes in the middle of the night. Now sleep.

You get to find out what a huge adrenaline rush is like.

You decided you'd rather not have to call 911 again too soon.

You wake up Monday morning and decide that if would be nice if it was just Saturday already.

The Herd: Quoted

"Your hair is too long. You are almost sitting on it!" -Gabe to me 

"So that guy I just met next door is single..." -Mom to me 

"I don't want North Korea to do anything, we are debating about Taiwan." -Christian during cross examination in debate  

"...And I never started the timer." -Christian mid-debate speech 

"I'm so hungry I could eat a bear!" -Gabe at breakfast  
"Well, we are out of bears, but let's see what we can find." -Dad

"I sat in the tree blind and froze my patootie off." -Christian  
"Aww I liked you patootie... Will it grow back?" -Mom 

"I was thinking we might schedule a pregnancy massage for 'so and so'." -Mom
"I'm happy to get one too. A massage, not a pregnancy one, that is not one of my current conditions." -Dad
"Dad, you are really doing well at being funny these days!" -Me