Thursday, December 24, 2015

Huge Gray Lion

Days in the Life...

Monday Mom enjoyed spending the day with her friends from church and then came home from their weekend away in time for dinner. 

Dad had a meeting and so the rest of us played music loudly, did chores, helped the neighbors chase their escape dog, and got food whenever we were hungry. 

I had to leave around 5:00 pm to go babysit for the family with the five little boys and one little girl. If you weren't aware, traffic does not tend to only congest at times when you have plenty of time to sit stationary behind three transportation trucks for 20 minutes... 

The kids were great. They ate and we played games and they watched Curious George while I took a nap on the couch stayed awake ish. They were wide awake even when their parents returned at 10:30 (afternoon naps are great...). 

My drive home was just fine. I sang to stay awake.

Tuesday can be summarized by a lot of pictures and another edition of "I've been Pondering." 

This would be an entire stick of butter 
which I exploded all over the microwave. 

Making "Kitchen Trash." 
The second stick of butter did not explode. 

Chloe was trying so hard to make cinnamon rolls;
first she used twice as much milk and had to throw out the batch.
Then the milk boiled over. 

Then she spilled it.

Finally she got it going. 

Hopefully... They weren't for us...

Another country sunset. 

I've been Pondering...

  • I love my job. 

    After a day of over sleeping, missing breakfast to race out the door, driving 5 minutes the wrong direction, not knowing really where I was going, returning from my errand for Dad to more jobs to do at home, blowing up an entire stick of butter all over the microwave, having to use pink and purple wrapping paper because that's all we had left, and needing to make dinner that I didn't have time to eat with my family, it was so good to get to hold this precious baby. 

    It sort of sounds like I had a bad day, but really it wasn't. 

    The sun was shining, it was 70 degrees (on the first day of winter!!), I never hit any traffic while out, I got to have coffee, Dad and I invented new cookies together, I began writing another piano song, I saw ways that the Lord had been working this past week, and I enjoyed a fun text conversation. 

    Sometimes it's hard to look at the bright side (I struggle more with that on the days that it's cloudy and cold), but our God is faithful. 

    In a world where the radio is blasting messages of brokenness, dysfunction, hurt, and anger, and the people around us are striving to keep high their walls of self-protection and in the process hurt others because of the hurt they are experiencing, and where everyone is searching, but few are discovering, Jesus has come. 

    We are His messengers who share the news that He has come to mend broken hearts, set right the things off-kilter, soothe open wounds, and bring peace. We carry Him in us so that He can pour out of us. We get to show the world the One they are searching for. He has revealed Himself to us so we can share Him with others. 

    Be the light.

    Peppermint Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies,
    inspired by an off-hand comment.

Wednesday was Christmas celebration number two at Gramma's house with all of Dad's family. 

There was a time when we all took turns opening gifts one at a time for everyone to see what everyone else got, but that time is no more. There are 18 of us, that would be a long time... 

Gramma had all of the grandchildren's gifts in sacks for each one and everyone was encouraged to "have at it" until all the gifts were open. (That took about 12.5 minutes.) Then we could show each other what we'd received and watch the parents open their gifts. 

No socks needed. I love Texas.

Gramma made these aprons out of two shirts Dad had gotten rid of!

We always take pictures in the wrapping paper pile.

We ate BBQ for lunch, opened gifts, visited (or played), ate dessert, and headed home after 5:00 pm. 

At home gifts were taken to each person's bedroom and we finished getting to see what everyone received. 

Legos anyone? 

We finished the day with dinner in the living room while watching "Little Women." Pretty sure that movie is on my absolute favorite list. 

Thursday everyone slept in, I went for an interesting run, Mom made more cinnamon rolls and worked on Christmas cards to send out, everyone wrote thank you notes, the kids played with their new things, I read 100 pages in a book (haven't done that since Maui), Dad organized in his office and finished things up to take a break the next few days, Christian stayed in bed not feeling great, and we all in general enjoyed a quiet day. 

Christmas music played all day and the windows were open. The kids played outside. 

While on my run I got followed by a huge, gray lion dog. I do not like big dogs. Honestly, they scare me. So I was praying so hard that it would go away. Finally a lady driving by stopped and asked why the dog was following me. She knew where the dog belonged and jumped out to coax him home while I drove her really, really, really nice brand new car. 

That moment when...

You almost fall asleep babysitting.

You explode a whole stick of butter in the microwave.

Gabe takes off his shirt in the middle of church. 

Your little siblings get the same gift you got when you were their age. 

The Herd: Quoted 

"I'm awake...I mean, I'm home." -Me walking into the wall in Mom and Dad's room at 11:30 pm to let them know I was back from babysitting.

"If it wasn't so funny I'd be crying by now. Don't let Mom see any of this." -Chloe trying to make cinnamon rolls. 

"Write a song that actually sounds like you're doing something and that is not crying." -Chloe to me before I go to try composing a new song. 

"I keep checking every gift to be sure they are mine. I don't know why. It's like blowing on cold cereal." -Mopening the gifts in my Christmas sack. 

"Here's my heart, spend it wisely." -Christian 

"It looks like the Lego Store threw-up in here." -Chloe talking about the little girls' room. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I pretend I can run and Christmas cookies

For the past month or so I have been working on another drawing. I didn't really have time to sit down and draw it start to finish so I did a little whenever I had time. I like to take picutres periodically to see my progress.

Completed portrait 

Original photo

Days in the Life...

Tuesday morning I had Kate to myself for a long time because everyone else slept. She and I had breakfast and then went outside to watch the sunrise. Yup, she still comes early.

The others started stirring around 8:00 am and Kate, Ava, and I began working on Christmas cookies while listening to Christmas music. 

Making cookies with Kate was really fun! She mostly wanted to be held (by me alone), but was okay to sit on the counter some too.

That would be butter down her shirt. 
(She played with it too, though not down her shirt. That was mostly for the picture.)

Mia helped a little too and Gabe...was around. 

A rare moment when I could scoop cookie dough with two hands. 

Cream cheese cookies ready to bake. 

Kate played in the living room some. 
The Christmas music coming through the Bose was intriguing. 

This was four batches later...

Then we moved on to Butterfingers. 

Of course we had to take a break to feed Kate and she went down for a nap a little while later. At that point everything was ready to be cleaned up and put away. I think the three of us probably made around 300 cookies in a little under four hours. By that time I was baked out. 

Kate took a great nap! I was so excited! Then she ate her lunch and some of mine. I think she grew, she seemed heavier to me this week. And she is communicating so well! Not talking, but she has her own words and she understands a lot of my questions, like about food, and napping, and blocks, etc. She even, in her own way, asked for a second nap in the afternoon! 

Mom was pretty tired and so stayed in bed a good portion of the morning and early afternoon. Dad had a few meetings. 

After lunch all the kids (and one adult, and Kate) cleaned the downstairs and prepared everything for small group that night. Then we had rest time. 

Kate didn't actually sleep for her second nap (I don't think), but she was very pleasant for a long time in bed. Then I got her up to play in my room.

Kate took her first steps for me! I texted her mom right away really excited but hoping it wasn't really her first time since that would mean that she'd missed it, but that was her first time! I got Mom to see if we could get Kate to do it again and video it, but she was done. (And hungry.) 

So I fed her and everyone came to play with her until she had to leave and I had to get myself ready for group.

Baby Tips: 

-If you have to climb on the counter to get something out of the cabinet, put the baby down. 

-If you are going to let your baby crawl around in the kitchen, make sure there is nothing on the floor that you would be upset or worried if they ate. 

Small group was very special. It was our last one for the year and our time to celebrate Christmas. We also had a few new people join us. For food everyone brought appetizers and finger foods. (Not food made with fingers...) And I actually got to sit at the adult table finally

Despite the fact that it is dark the entire time, the kids all still play outside, and barely stop even to eat. They wouldn't miss the food, though, because they are mostly little boys and the food is always very yummy. 

After dinner some of us went next door to carol for Nana and Grandfather. Someone had suggested we go around our neighborhood, but the driveways are a little too long and we have a lot of kids... 

Our time of sharing was very sweet. Mom and Dad started it by asking everyone if they are a maximizer or a satisficer decision maker. 

A maximizer typically likes to research things a lot, look at something from every angle, weigh all the pros and cons, and make the very best decision. 

A satisficer usually looks to make a decision relatively quickly, finding the first thing that meets most of the necessary criteria and going with that. 

For our group, all the men are maximizers or lean more towards that than they do towards being a satisficer and most of the ladies possess more satisficer qualities. 

I couldn't deicide which one I was, because for some things (like eating at Babe's, or going to Maui, or taking any opportunity to care for a baby, etc) I can quickly decide 'yes.' But for other things (like buying a car, or moving to Hawaii to be a nanny, or where I should eat breakfast on my birthday, etc) I take a long time to decide. Since I was looking at all the options and trying to make the "right" decision I concluded that I must be a maximizer. 

Once everyone had shared their thoughts on that fun topic, we moved on to sharing praises and prayer requests. Several in the group were in physical pain and at the end we all gathered around to pray over each other, first for physical things and then moving to the other requests. 

We didn't finish until almost 10:00 pm, but it was so incredibly special. I know, I probably sound like a broken record, I feel like I say the same thing after every small group, but it's true! 

Wednesday morning Ava and I were to go babysit for Nana's Bible study, but Ava wasn't feeling great, so Gabe went with me. We ended up just having two little girls and two babies, so Gabe was a bit bored. I enjoyed a more restful babysitting job and of course the time with the babies. 

We got home in time to have lunch and then I left for the afternoon to go finish my Christmas shopping. 

I learned from three very reliable sources that being an adult has benefits like, if I want a cookie, I can have a cookie. Aside from that, being an adult is hard and I don't even know half of it I'm sure.

That night we all watched "Christmas Hope." It was really good, but kind of sad... 

Thursday morning Mom and Grandfather took us to go ice shake skate at the Galleria in Dallas. There was almost no one there for a majority of the hour and a half or so that our ankles held out. Around noon a couple school groups arrived, though, so it filled up fast. 

Last year Mia found ice skating very difficult. She stayed on the side by herself and didn't want any help. Every time I asked if she was having fun she said "no" but she didn't want to get off, she wanted to "conquer" it. This year, by the end, she was out in the middle and the whole time she had a blast. 

Gabe was very adventurous and was in the middle the moment his skates hit the ice. He fell pretty much every time I turned around, though. 

Christian, Ava, and I are the confident skaters in our family. Chloe admittedly has balance issues, but still enjoys it. 

I'd forgotten what good exercise ice skating is! 

Mom and Grandfather drank coffee and watched us. Then we got lunch at "Five Guys." There was no Chick-fil-a

At home everyone had rest time and Mom and I looked at my high school transcript. As we'd suspected, I have all but two of the credits I need to graduate in May! Then we looked at Chloe's. There was a possibility she might graduate when I do, but she still needs too many credits, more than is realistic to expect that she would complete in the next few months. *Sad face* 

Dad enjoyed having a quiet house during the time that we were gone and had left for a meeting before we got back. We were all home for dinner. 

Chloe and the littles watched "Frozen" after dinner and the rest of us watched "Valkyrie." 

Friday morning Dad got to take Chloe and me to see the little house in Ponder that Mom and Dad are purchasing as a family project for all of us to fix up and rent. I love it! I think it's absolutely adorable and it'll be fun to work on it and make it even more cute. 

It was a pretty quiet day aside from that. 

I had to purchase running shoes the day before so I can learn to play soccer in January (our new friend from church is planning to teach us). They had to be broken in at some point so I decided to go pretend I can run. 

It was nice and sunny and I did run plenty so I wasn't cold. It was a good workout too. I wish I really was a runner. I don't think I hurt myself this time, so hopefully I can do it again. 

The littles did a 75 item challenge (went through all their stuff to see how many things they could get rid of) in the afternoon to earn hot chocolate and a cookie. 

During dinner we watched a house show, "Flip and Move," and then after clean-up we got hot chocolate and cookies and watched "Here Comes the Boom." Boxing, hmm, not my thing. The movie was pretty funny though. 

Saturday was Christmas celebration number one with Nana and Grandfather at their house. We about drove the littles crazy by sitting down to visit before exchanging gifts. They really did wait very patiently although they were visibly vibrating

We took turns opening gifts, going from youngest to oldest, one gift at a time. 

These are some very excited kiddos. 

Ava with her new origami paper.

Amelia and her new "Amelia Bedelia" book. 

Mom with her "old person socks."
(They have sticky stuff on the bottom so you don't slip.)

Enjoying their gifts. 

Nana had made us all lunch and after that we went back home to rest and get ready for church. 

I don't typically love it when the sun is setting everyday at 5:30, but the plus side to that right now is that our drives to church are filled with stunning sunset displays. 

We got there plenty early so that Chloe and I could be a part of the secret santa gift exchange with the other teen girls in our church. (There are about seven.) We also had a little time of sharing and prayer before the service started. 

This was our church's Christmas service as next week will be the day after Christmas and many will be out of town. Afterwards there were cookies and other desserts to enjoy while people visited. 

We hadn't necessarily been planning to go eat at Rosa's, but we were soon convinced otherwise and very much enjoyed additional fellowship and getting to know some visitors better. 

Sunday after brunch Mom headed out for a girls' overnight with three other ladies in our church. 

Dad, Chloe, Christian, and Gabe left soon after Mom did to brave Costco and Walmart as some needed to finish Christmas shopping and we were in need of something kind of important, namely- food for the next ten days or so... They were gone for almost three hours. 

Ava and Mia enjoyed playing together and we all three had rest time. 

When the others returned we did round two of Christmas cookie baking. My estimate would be about 400-500 cookies in 4 ish hours, including more cream cheese cookies and butterfingers, as well as pecan sandies, chocolate covered pretzels, and oatmeal craisin white chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookies (all four of those things in one cookie). 

Here is a blurry picture of some of them.

After everything was cleaned up and put away we all watched "Little Rascals" and didn't get to bed until after 11:00 pm.

That Moment When...

You still have to climb on the counter to get stuff out of the cabinet.

Mia asks Mom if girls can be boxers.

The Herd: Quoted

"If you help us with the item challenge you can have hot chocolate and a cookie." -Gabe
"Not this time...I can have those things anyways." -Me
"What? Why?" -Gabe
"Because I'm an adult and I take care of my things so I don't have anything I need to get rid of." -Me

"Ahh, I broke my arm." -Gabe not very dramatically.
"Move it." -Mia
"No, I broke it." -Gabe with minimal moaning.
"Gabe, it's not deformed or anything. It's not broken." -Ava

"Mom gets a gift? Did she buy it for herself?" -Me
"Yes." -Mom

"Oh I'd forgotten about these!" -Mom opening another gift she'd picked out for herself. 

"I want to see! It's for all of us-es." -Mia

"Just making sure that was all." -Gabe checking a gift bag. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Hubba Hubba

Days in the Life 

Thursday Mom went shopping for food and all the other kids went over to Aunt Cendei's farm to work. Dad and I were excited to have a quiet house all to ourselves so we could focus on work. We decided to turn the music way up. The windows were open too! 

I put this together for my room in the late afternoon. 

When the kids got back they all showered and we got ready to leave to go see the Gateway Church "Truthical" performance with Aunt Cendei. Mom had worn herself out and opted to stay home. She did not turn the music way up. 

Before the show at 7:00, we got dinner from Panda Express. We try something besides Chick-fil-a every so often. 

I did NOT eat all of that. 

My fortune...

Gramma and Grandpa met us at the church and had saved us amazing seats. The show was very well done, a little different from last year, but still really good. Everyone enjoyed it immensely. 

Friday morning Mom and Dad headed out at 6:00 for their weekend away in honor of their wedding anniversary. Nana and Grandfather took care of us while they were gone. 

In the morning everyone worked on school and chores, then after lunch we drove to the Gaylord Hotel and walked around to see all the Christmas displays. 

This gingerbread house was impressive. 

See all the pretty Christmas lights?! 

 After walking around for about an hour, we got a table (and chairs) and enjoyed scones and hot chocolate.

The Christmas tree was really pretty! 

She and Gabe walked around and around and around that thing...

My favorite color

My projects while in the car

That night we ate stew prepared by Nana and Christian using some meat from the deer Christian shot last hunting season. 

I taught the littles how to play the board game "Clue" and beat them all. twice., then the others all watched "The Ultimate Gift" while I enjoyed some valuable alone time. *Wink* 

Saturday morning everyone slept in a long time (I didn't hear anyone until after 9:00). We gathered to hear the plan for the day at breakfast and I ended up being left at home alone while the others went to do some shopping and go to the park and the library. 

The times when I get the house to myself are rare and special. I love people and I love my family, but I occasionally like to be completely on my own. 

While they were away I tidied up the house, enjoyed my coffee and quiet time, played the piano, ironed a bunch of shirts for Dad (ironing is something I really enjoy), exercised, and took my shower. Praise music may have been on the loud side for part of the time...just thought I'd mention that possibility... 

She constructed an "American Ninja Warrior" obstacle course. 

Once everyone returned they had some quiet time and then everyone cycled through the showers and got ready to leave for church. 

Nana and Grandfather took us to our church and then we all went to eat at Rosa's with church people afterwards.  

Sunday Nana and Grandfather went to their church while we slept and then prepared them brunch. It was all ready for them when they arrived and we were live-streaming "Truthical." 

In the afternoon we rested, watched football, and prepared for Mom and Dad to come home. (Mia learned to ride a bike!)

When I get food out for dinner... 
Surely that will be plenty. 

Mom and Dad arrived home in time for dinner and a movie, "The Santa Clause 2." 

Monday morning Ava got her braces on. *Insert the pictures I could not get to upload, sorry...* 

In the afternoon I had another painful helpful massage. 

Dad was gone all day meeting with clients that had found him online, flew here to meet him (they live out of state), and are having him design the house they will build in a totally different state from where they live currently! 

Mom wrapped Christmas gifts. 

In the evening I babysat for the small group. 

That moment when...

The fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night at the hotel Mom and Dad are staying at. (It was a false alarm.)

You find out what "Hubba Hubba" actually means... 

The Herd: Quoted 

"Can we sleep in tomorrow?" -Ava
"What do you think you've been doing the past few weeks?" -Dad 
"Oh yeah..." -Ava 

"Do you want us to get back-sided?" -Gabe while in the car (he mean't rear-ended) 

"I'm going to run to the bathroom." -Me
"Please walk." -Mom joking.