Monday, January 25, 2016

Rest assured, I still blog

*Flips through journal and planner and looks back at the last blog post* Great! I'm actually not quite as behind as I thought. Only 2 and a half weeks... *Ducks head* But think about it, I have been blogging consistently since last May and this is the first time I have fallen "majorly behind" since I began. It was bound to happen sometime... However, I'd rather not repeat the experience...

Okay, we did not have a sudden stomach bug relapse and all die because of it. Obviously. Let your mind now be at ease and sit back to enjoy hearing what in the world has been going on with us the past almost three weeks. Sorry it's been so long...

Days in the Life... 

Monday morning, long long ago, I left the house early to go have coffee at Starbucks with a friend. Before she arrived I had my Bible time. Then the dreaded text came through, Chloe and Dad had now caught the stomach bug. The quarantine was going to have to go back into effect. (It had just ended on Sunday.)

So I contacted the mothers of all the children I was scheduled to nanny that week and let them know that I was not sick, but almost my entire family had been or was. Most decided they would rather I not keep their kids that week. (Completely understandable.) So within a few minutes my jammed week emptied out. (At least the first half of it anyways...)

I still got to visit with and encourage my friend before going home around noon.

As far as I can remember Dad cancelled his meetings for the day, but still pushed through with design work. The littles played together, Christian worked on school, and Chloe stayed in her room completely miserable. She had the worst case of any of us.

Dad actually felt much better by that evening.

Tuesday Kate did not come and I almost cried. (I'm pretty sure Gabe did.)

We, those of us who felt up to it, did the third Cize workout for the first time. I think it was easier than the second, but they both make the first one seem like marching in place.

In the afternoon I took Ava and Mia to our tiny town library (it was a loose quarantine...) and then dropped them off at home so that I could go meet a friend at Walmart. I wanted help getting pictures printed sometime and she offered that up as on option, spur of the moment, right after lunch, so I made it work. It helped me stop missing Kate so much.

That adventure took me much longer than I had anticipated, but it ended up being a good thing I'd gone.

Ava was making muffins by herself when I got home! She is becoming very self-sufficient in the kitchen, it's really fun to watch.

Wednesday, since I never got the stomach bug and the others were better, I was able to start another nanny job. The family whose two and three year old I cared for all last summer also have an almost one year old baby boy, Calvin. I will be watching him most Wednesdays!

That job began at their house at 8:30 so I was up and out of the house early.

On the way I needed to stop for gas. It's a good thing I planned an extra 15 minutes something I pretty much never think to do. In case you weren't aware, hitting the wrong gas grade button does not work very well. At all. I did realize my mistake before I started actually pumping diesel into my car, but when I cancelled the transaction it messed up my debit card. I ended up going inside to pay with cash and made it to work just barely on time. We aren't going to go back and count how many times I've had "fun" adventures while trying to get gas. We just aren't. And I still haven't figured out the clicker thing that supposedly holds the handle down for you while you pump. I just haven't.

Calvin is like Kate in that he wants to be held all the time. But he is a boy, so that means he does not stay still. He prefers active snuggling, so it's a little harder to get things done while holding him. Plus he is just a lot heavier than Kate.

Teething is always fun (and what I really mean is it's not), but it meant that he was happy to let me feed him and then hold him until he fell asleep. Melt my heart.

I got home before 3:00 and we all did Cize together. Chloe, the last one to get sick, was finally better!

Thursday morning we all decided our third time to do a new Cize routine is our favorite, by then we are feeling much more like we are dancing and much less like we would rather be "hiding in our basement because we look so uncoordinated."

I needed to shower and get packed to be gone for the weekend when we finished. Aunt Lauren had been asked to speak at a ladies retreat and invited me to go with her.

Before I left around 2:00 in the afternoon, the littles wanted me to dance the Virginia Reel with them. They love that dance so much! (We need to teach them a new one...)

Even though it was raining, I drove myself to Dallas for the first time, almost no problem! There was a split second where I almost got hit by an 18-wheeler who was not paying attention, but he saw me before I got run off the road. I guess I should probably learn how to use my horn...

Aunt Lauren and I made hot chocolate and spent a couple of hours catching up until Uncle Phil got home. Then I visited with him and watched while he made dinner.

We watched "A Walk to Remember" and I cried. It was a really sweet story.

Friday Aunt Lauren and I drove to the lake house where the retreat was to take place. The drive lasted about 4 hours, but we stopped in Waco to go to the new store "Magnolia" and eat lunch at Jason's Deli. Uncle Phil had snuck chocolate peppermint cookies into the car for us. We were so excited when we found them!

We arrived mid afternoon and were shown to our rooms and got to meet the ladies and younger teen girls who were already present.

The lake house was gorgeous! I could not get over the view.

The rest of the ladies arrived before dinner and the evening was spent getting to know everyone in addition to a time of worship. 

The report from home was that "Babe's is still good." I guess they finally used that gift card and went to dinner. 

Saturday morning I woke up having gotten plenty of sleep. 

Aunt Lauren began speaking at 9:00 after some singing. Following each session there was time for reflection. 

After lunch I took a walk down to the lake with some of the others. It was windy but not unpleasant. 

This is a disc golf goal(?). 
It has something to do with disc golf. 

After the last session in the afternoon I went outside for my reflection time. I love being outside. I didn't used to. I think the more I learn about God, though, the more I enjoy being in His creation and enjoying the beauty He placed here for us to see and praise Him for. This is only earth. What will Heaven be like? 

That evening after dinner we had a spa night with foot soaks and massages and facials. It was beautiful to serve each other in that way. 

The first night we went to bed at 11:00, the second night we stayed up a little longer... But both times everyone got plenty of sleep, though. 

Sunday morning we sang and shared things that had been special to us about the weekend, what we'd learned about prayer (that was the topic), and how we'd seen God working. 

Aunt Lauren and I left about noon and got lunch on the road. It was special to get to review the weekend together and have more time to share. My prayer going into the weekend was that I would be blessed, but also be a blessing. God was so faithful to answer those prayers in such beautiful ways, ways that I would have never, ever expected.  

We got back to their apartment close to 4:00 and then I drove home. 

The others had had a very laid back weekend and were as excited to have me back as I was to be back. (That equals a lot.) 

I was able to unpack and catch up with everyone as well as on things that'd I'd gotten behind on, like emails and texts for example. I realized when I arrived at the lake house that the wifi and cell reception was really bad, so I just turned my phone off. It was one of the best things I could have done, I think, to allow myself to fully engage with the people there, even though I'd never met them before, and really pour into the conversations and relationships. 

Grandfather and a friend of his joined us for dinner that night. 

That Moment When...

Another older gentleman tells you you have pretty hair. In Walmart.

The tv turns on randomly by itself.

Mom buys 60 avocados.

The Herd: Quoted 

"Now, if you want you can take these dishes over to the sink and have fun with the bubbles while you wash them! Sound fun?" -Ava
"Nice try, Ava, nice try." -Me  
"Nope, not doing it." -Gabe

"Great, I split my pants." -Christian 

"I had it for a whole split second!" -Christian 

"If you want longer hair, Gabe, eat more carrots!" -Mia 
"Or you can just put carrot in your hair like I did just now." -Me  
"Why did you do that?" -Gabe (probably, I actually don't remember exactly who said that...)  
"It was an accident and I already had chocolate in it from earlier!" -Me

Monday, January 18, 2016

Some People Will Do Anything for a Chick-fil-a Sandwich

Days in the Life...

Thursday morning Mom, Ava, Christian, Chloe, and I left for Tyler, Texas around 8:39 ish for our second (and possibly last) Speech and Debate Tournament. We took our big family truck, which resulted in plenty of space to spread out. Chloe was happy to take the absolute back since that meant she'd have three seats all to herself. Never mind the fact that there is no leg room.

Mom's stomach was a little upset when we started out, but she hoped it was nothing. The further we got, though, the more fatigued she became. Several times we pulled over so she could walk around a little. Finally she had me take over driving as she wasn't just tired, she felt drugged. We were a little over halfway there at that point. 

The nice thing about a road trip with older kids is that the car is completely quiet. Everyone was totally content to do their own thing, whether that be reading, looking out the window, listening to music, or sleeping. 

We arrived in Tyler close to noon. It took us longer because I had to pull over several times for Mom to walk around. Her nausea kept getting worse. She was pretty sure she must have eaten something that didn't agree with her. 

None of us were scheduled to compete until late in the afternoon, but we had lunch meal tickets we wanted to use. I lead us into the church to check in and get the tickets. 

We ate our Chick-fil-a sandwiches and chips and fruit, while Mom rested in the bathroom. 

Dad called me to try to get a plan. Mom was in no shape to judge the competition and we didn't know if, because of that, we would even be allowed to compete. I explain the situation to "someone who looked like a pretty in-charge person" and since I am 18, they said I could be responsible for my siblings and Mom could stay at the hotel, no judging responsibilities required. 

Our check-in for the hotel was not supposed to be until later, but Mom needed to rest, she felt awful. I called our hotel and they said we could come early. Thankfully it was right down the road. 

Mom was able to get us checked in and pretty much right after we dropped all of our bags in the room, she escaped to the restroom to empty her stomach. After that she felt some better. 

She and Ava stayed in the room and I took the others back to the tournament. 

Christian delivered his speech late in the afternoon after I finished communicating with Dad about what the plan for the weekend should be (this was a three-day tournament). During that time, Mia threw up at home. 

We left the church around 5:30 and went to a very busy Subway to pick up dinner to take back to the hotel room. 

Then we had the hardest time in the world finding an open Walmart (the one we thought we could go to apparently was still being built) to buy food for the next couple of days that we could take with us to the tournament. 

Chloe and Christian joked about their new theme song needing to be "I will survive" since I was driving our truck all over an unfamiliar town, in the dark, without another adult. I was actually feeling a little bit proud of myself for being able to step up and be in charge of this road trip. Pretty quick, though, I realized that I would never have been able to do all that I did that day on my own. God was hands down the one sustaining me and giving me the confidence and wisdom and grace to walk through the events that transpired so differently from anything that I had planned or expected. *Insert the moment that Good Good Father comes on in Starbucks as I write and I have to choke back tears because that's currently my favorite song* 

We got back to the hotel close to 7:30. Mom and Ava were watching "Flip or Flop" and trying to figure out what to do. 

We ended up deciding that we should go ahead and drive home that night. Mom didn't want to risk anyone else (namely the drivers) getting sick and us then being stuck there. Others at home were getting sick and we knew all of us had been exposed. 

So we let "in-charge" people know our plans and I drove us out of Tyler at 8:30. The others all put on their pajamas and settled down for the three hour trip. Again. 

Christian especially was discouraged about leaving and not getting to compete (He had worked pretty hard preparing), but he came down with a fever in the car so we knew we'd made the right decision. 

I got us to Dallas before my shoulders, neck, and back completely gave out. Our truck requires strength to control, especially on highways, so I was tense for the whole drive. There was no way to relax. It was a little discouraging to know all of the work of getting rid of that stress tension the past two months was virtually reversed, but I know that God has a plan and a purpose, even in that, and I'm so grateful that I was not sick and had the ability to drive us all home. 

Mom drove us through Dallas, feeling well enough and awake enough after her rest to do that safely. Then Chloe took us through the home stretch. We got in a little before midnight. 

Dad, Gabe, and Mia were all set up in the living room watching HGTV when we arrived. Everyone was grateful to be in their own beds after such a long, eventful day with the unexpected. 

And so the quarantine went into effect. Mom "does blood," Dad "does throw-up." Dad was on duty. 

Friday morning everyone slept in a lot and then most made their way to the living room to watch HGTV for a good part of the day. The rest of the time they slept, read, sipped ginger ale, etc. 

I stayed in my room resting, having my Bible time, working, reading, etc. 

I honestly couldn't tell if I was hungry because I'd not eaten in 18 hours, 
or starting to get sick, or just afraid to eat. 

Mom, Christian, and Mia were feeling better by the end of the day and no one else had come down with it. 

We all watched Mall Cop and cautiously ate. 

Saturday morning was also slow, but everyone felt fine. 

In the afternoon the little girls decided they wanted to rearrange their room for fun. They had drawn out a floor plan depicting what they wanted to change and had already measured to be sure things would fit. Mom told them the could earn the privilege of rearranging their room by first making it clean and tidy. 





That consumed a majority of their afternoon. And Mom's.

The boys did things together (most likely "things" that involved sports cards and games of poker), Dad worked, and Chloe and I both (yes, me too, but only after I worked some) read. 

That night we all ate dinner and then the others watched "Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back," while Mom and I watched "Old Fashioned." 

Sunday everyone was back to normal! We made our brunch meal and enjoyed eating with no thoughts of "what it might look like if it came back up." 

I was so excited to drink a cup of coffee.

We had another restful afternoon and then all watched a Louie Giglio sermon. 

After dinner and ice cream and some apple thing Chloe saw online and decided to try, the others watched "Star Wars, Return of the Jedi" and Mom and I watched "Alone, Yet Not Alone," which is a very serious movie, but we were laughing a lot because of a humorous group text strand that transpired during that time. 

I've Been Pondering...

I love how every sunset is so different and yet always so beautiful. We never get to see one that is quite the same as the last, but each time I am amazed by the splendor of it. God designed each one to point us to Him for His glory.

Just. Like. Us.

We are created so differently, and yet each one of us is uniquely special. There is not a one of us that God did not create with love and for the purpose of glorifying Him, simply by being who He created us to be.

That Moment When...

Mom wears her plaid, pajama pants and her black, dress boots to drive home.

The Herd: Quoted 

"Thinking about sleeping on the couch tonight, I really don't feel like making my bed." -Chloe 

"You can have your own bed tonight!" -Me to Mom after she threw up in the hotel bathroom.
"What? No one wants to share with me?" -Mom  

"Well you're lucky, I only get half the floor!" -Christian telling his friend where he'd be sleeping in the hotel room. 

"Your turn isn't at this light, so keep going, but the light is red, so stop." -Chloe

"Does that look like an open Walmart to you?" -Me driving by one.
"Yes." -Chloe
"No." -Christian joking at the same time. 

"Wait, there's a Walmart? Is it open?" -Me apparently coming up on another one.
"Yes, it's open." -Chloe
"Oh no! It's closed!" -Christian as I pulled in. 

"I thought this day was going to be so boring. Nope!" -Me

"He was so hitting on you!" -Chloe, as we leave Subway.
"No, just because somebody gives me free food, doesn't mean he's hitting on me." -Me

"Oh! And lock the car." -Me 

"It's just so lame! So, so lame! They are just father and son! Lame!" -Mia after watching "The Empire Strikes Back." 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Peas and Strawberries, Green Smoothies and Brownies

Days in the Life...

Monday can be called a normal start to the week. 

Slowly but surely we are all getting back into our school and work schedules, getting up at reasonable times in the morning, eating regular meals, going to bed mostly on time, etc. I love that we have added working out together in the mornings to our routine. 

A general overview of what a "typical" school day usually (aka the goal) looks like for the littles- 

-Everyone up by 7:30 
-Down for breakfast by 8:00
-Family prayer time at the table
-Everyone starts school by 9:00
-Cize at 10:00 
-Showers and chores 
-More school
-Lunch somewhere around noon or 12:30
-Finish school
-Quiet rest time at 2:00 until 3:30
-Play time
-Dinner at 6:00 
-Reading aloud, games, tv, general hanging out 
-To bed at 8:30

Chloe and Christian are pretty consistent with this schedule, but obviously might get up earlier in the morning and go to bed later. They also have more school and so don't really have rest time, and they balance their own work schedules. 

My day is in alignment with the things we do as a family like meals, exercise, and evening things, but other than that, I'm all over the place with my work schedule and other things. Y'all already had that figured out from reading previous posts, though. 

I like to keep my snacks balanced-
green smoothie and brownie.

Monday night I took myself to babysit for small group, as Nana and Grandfather are in DC with Aunt Amy, Uncle JC, and Rowan. 

Tuesday Kate joined our family. If we could, we would adopt her. Mia tries to get her dad to leave her with us every week. So far, her attempts have failed. 

Remember that tip from last week about mixing the foods your baby likes with the ones they don't like to get them to eat it? Well, Kate doesn't like peas. She really wanted to eat her strawberries instead. Even I was doubting the idea, but I went ahead and mixed the peas and strawberries together. She ate all the peas. 

The littles love the Virginia Reel now. Kate thought it was hilarious when I danced it with Ava while holding her. 

Aunt Amy had her baby!!!!!! He is so so so beautiful! We all wish we could meet him sooner, but are so glad we get to see pictures. 

Introducing Eli Chandler Derrick!!

Tuesday night we finally had small group again. We are actually going to begin calling our gathering "Engagement Group" since the purpose of it is to live life engaged with one another, supporting each other, etc. 

This time during our sharing, those who wanted to, communicated the word or phrase they felt like the Lord has placed upon their hearts for 2016. Many also shared what the theme of 2015 seemed to be for them, ways they grew through different challenges and circumstances, and how the Lord was faithful. 

That in and of itself was so encouraging, because we were reminded of what the Lord has done for us and in us. It's often so easy to forget those things and lose sight of His faithfulness to us because we don't go back and review. 

Praises were abounding as we looked at the requests from our last gathering and recognized how God had answered them, some in alignment with what we expected, but many in ways that were different. Better. 

More prayer needs were shared and we took the time to encourage each other and pray right then. 

You'd really have to work to leave that time NOT blessed by it. 

Wednesday was the last day to prepare for our Tyler tournament. Thankfully we didn't have too much going on and so had plenty of time to get things together. 

Chloe took her driving test early afternoon. And passed!! She got home and promptly left to take Ava to the library all by herself. 

We all did Cize late in the afternoon. The second dance video was confusing the first time, but the more we've done it, the easier it has become. 

That moment when...

You try to adjust your rearview mirror while driving 60 mph and the whole thing comes off the windshield. 

Ava reads 7 chapter books in 7 days. 

The Herd: Quoted 

"Can I make peanut butter balls?" -Ava to Mom
"Sure!" -Mom
"I already checked to be sure we had all the ingredients before I came to ask you if it was okay." -Ava

"I have fear of success. What if I do this and everyone loves it and it takes over my life?" -Mom dreaming about business ventures. 
"And I'm the complete opposite, I wonder why in the world anyone would appreciate my abilities." -Me

"I'm starting to freak out. I don't want to freak out." -Chloe thinking about the tournament. 

"The cool down is the hardest." -Mia talking about Cize

Monday, January 11, 2016

Brownies that Save Puppies from Burning Buildings and the Linns finally watch Star Wars

Days in the Life...

Tuesday, Kate was her normal, happy self for the most part. She and I made pancakes for everyone else for breakfast and then the others did Cize while she napped and I had my Bible time and drank coffee.

Everyone is getting so good! 

Tell me she is not adorable. 

After her nap I tried to study, she stole my notes...

We thought "Why not try it?" 

Chloe, Ava, Kate, and I made a trip to the Ponder library early afternoon. 

While we were gone, Mom decided they should spontaneously meet the Peisers at Six Flags again. She, Chloe, and the littles headed out as soon as we got back and pretty quickly Christian left with Grandfather to try one last time to shoot a deer before the hunting season ended. 

If they didn't get one, Grandfather was going to take Christian out for dinner. They ate yummy burgers that night. 

Dad continued working, thankful for the quiet house, and Kate and I hung out until her dad came. 

Baby tips: 

-It's a good idea to start your young child or baby's meal with the least sweet food item you have for them to eat and work up to the sweetest. Apply this also with foods you know they like the best, save those for last and give them the thing they don't enjoy as much first or mix it with the item they do like. Don't nurture a picky-eater, motivate them to eat at least some of everything that you have prepared for them.

As soon as she left, I ran out the door to care for baby Sofia at the church again.

She was hungry when I received her so I got to give her a bottle! Then she was awake and slightly fussy the rest of the time.

During the 5 minutes she slept. 

The others had a blast at Six Flags. 
Aren't they gorgeous? 

Wednesday morning Ava and I babysat for the Bible study. Ava really is a great helper, especially with crying two year olds. I was so glad to have her with me.

The dreary weather, combined with not drinking coffee that morning (if you ask some people, who are under the misconception that I am addicted to caffeine..) gave me a headache for a majority of the afternoon and evening. I always forget that there is such a thing as "pain-killers" that are tremendously helpful for such situations.

Dad inspires me. He gets headaches frequently enough, but he always pushes through his workday, even as one who is self-employed and manages his own schedule.

In the evening, our "new" friend from church, who has a real name, Aron (pronounced "Aaron"), came over to do Cize with us. We figured we should feed him dinner, too.

We were all glad he was okay to be in the front as he and Gabe were equally entertaining to observe.

I finished pulling dinner together once we finished and Aron concocted his special brownies so they could be baking while we ate real food.

This is a picture of his brownies, just from a different night. 
(The photographer failed her duties that night.)

If you ask Gabe, the brownies were, "Out of this world." If you ask Mia, they were, "Awesomely, deliciously, scrumptious." And Mom says they are another one of those foods that "save puppies from burning buildings." 

A few of us were awake trapped in a chocolate coma until 2:30 am, but the brownies were so worth it. I just got up and did school and other things that needed to be done until I began to emerge from my stupor, so it worked out! 

Thursday was a normal school morning for everyone.

In the afternoon I dropped my car off for an oil change and Mom, Chloe, and Christian picked me up on their way to Speech and Debate.

Chloe and I were able to look at our feedback forms from our first tournament and see some things to fix in our duo. One of the moms helped us with that and now we just need to practice.

Mom took me back to get my car after the speech time and I headed home. Chloe and Christian stayed for debate.

Friday morning I left the house before hardly anyone else was moving.

A family in our church needed someone to go sit with their three daughters in their Classical Conversations class while they went to their last doctor's appointment before their new baby is born.

The littles were in CC last year and the year before, but I never got to sit in on their classes (I was in my own high school level class which was totally different), so I was excited to go watch.

Straight from there I left to have coffee with a friend and then rushed carefully home to turn right around and leave for a surprise birthday party.

I actually arrived home late (due to traffic) and so got in such a hurry to change into a dress and throw my hair up that I knocked a picture off the wall. *Mental note, five minutes is not very long*

Chloe, Christian, and I caught a ride with Aunt Cendei to the party for a girl in our church who was turning 19. Her sister had asked us to arrive early to help her finish setting up for the Jane Austin Era party.

The whole venture was highly successful. Emily was completely surprised and we all had a great time eating, watching her open gifts, playing games, and learning some couple and line dances.

Chloe and Christian were convinced they would NOT be dancing. Guess who loved it the most once she got into it? Chloe. And Christian also had a blast! Dancing was always something I thought would be fun, but never had the opportunity to learn. I was glad that my partner the second half of the night already knew how to dance, once he and I started dancing I finally got the hang of it.

The father of the birthday girl offered to take us home whenever we were ready to go. We ended up being the last to leave around 11:00 pm.

Saturday we slept in. A lot.

We all did the second Cize workout. Wow. That was just slightly more challenging than the first one. And by "slightly," I mean extremely. It was still super fun, though!

I took Ava to the library in the afternoon and once we were all ready for church, us older ones taught the littles the "Virginia Reel."

Dad stayed home not feeling great.

Church was a blessing. There are no words. No words.

She wanted a picture with the worship leader. 

Sunday morning Aron came over for brunch.

Then he beat me at "Rummikub"  That's okay, though, I beat him at "Speed" the last time he came for brunch.

Once our food had settled Aron took us five kids and one adult outside to teach us soccer. We warmed up and did a bunch of stretches and drills and then divided up to play a game.

Chloe, Christian, and I were a team, and Aron, Ava, and Gabe were a team. Mia hopped back and forth between both teams.

Aron is only slightly competitive. (Refer to above definition of the word "slightly" for actual meaning.) The game ended at 3 to 1, in favor of Aron and the littles. Ava scored two of their goals!

Christian is great at getting the ball, Chloe at passing it off, and I at defending. When I played basketball as a 10, 11, and 12 year old, I was always set to guard the biggest guy on the opposite team because my coach knew I was tiny and would annoy them. The same principle worked well in our game, although I hope I was not actually annoying.

Aron and Christian left after our game to go play Disc Golf in Denton.

From what I understand, Disc Golf is basically the same as regular golf, except that instead of a ball and clubs, you play with a smaller, heavier frisbee type disc, and the "holes" are special baskets. If any of that makes any sense...

The rest of us had rest time.

Dad was still not feeling great.

This is what he needs. 
Who's ready to leave for Maui? 

On his first ever game of Disc Golf, Christian ended with a better score than some of Aron's friends who have been trying to learn for a while! He didn't win the round or beat anyone he was playing with that day, but the report was that he did exceptionally well. And he had fun. 

Aron and Christian returned after dark slightly frozen and a tad bit muddy, just in time for dinner and Star Wars, A New Hope, Episode IV. 

By the end of the very very very long movie, half of us couldn't wait to watch all of them and the other half (which included me and Mom) were left wondering what in the world it was that we were supposed to have been so missing out on. Ava didn't even stay to watch the whole thing, she much preferred her book. 

I've Been Pondering...

When God calls you to something it takes courage to step out in obedience. And although obedience is simple, it's not always easy. 

If you continue to wait until you "have it all together," or "know all the answers," or are "pretty confident in your own abilities" you will never step out. And if you do feel that way, then you have lost sight of the fact that you need God. 

You are not to move when you know what you are doing, but when God directs you. And you are not to move when you think you've got it, because you need God. Nothing He has called you to has He called you to do on your own, in your own strength, using your own wisdom. 

First you must meet Jesus. He will fill you up. Then you are equipped to go out. You return then, over and over and over, day by day, moment by moment, to be refilled and resent. 

Nothing I do is because of me. It all has everything to do with Christ. And I have to constantly surrender to Him and listen for His leading and receive grace and courage from Him to step out in obedience, entering into the things He is calling me to. 

It's not easy, but it is simple.

That Moment When...

All the kids cry when the mommies leave. 

You don’t get any texts until you start babysitting. Then your phone explodes. 

Mother rearranges and can't remember where she put things. 

The turkey breast doesn't fit in the crockpot. 

The Herd: Quoted 

"Cashews and pop tarts?" -Me repeating what I thought I heard. 
"Hemp Hearts. When have we ever purchased pop tarts?" -Mom

“So the girls are still kids?” -Chloe 
“Yes.” -Me
“Gah! You have so far to go in that book.” -Chloe
“#slowreader” -Christian
“No, #busygirl.” -Mom 

"Hey my pony tail!" -Me finding the one I'd lost. 
"It was under the couch." -Ava 

"Something just flew out the window. It strongly resembled my school work." -Chloe 

"This is going to blow your mind." -Mom to me as I come downstairs.
"What? Is that like, the most advanced Cize dance?" -Me referring to the workout they were watching before we tried it. 
"Nope. This is number two." -Mom 

"We are almost halfway through winter! Wait, nooooo we aren't even a month in!" -Me 

"Well, the last time I saw him working at the library I'm pretty sure he hit on me so..." -Me to Mom

"Great. Are you posting that on the blog?" -Mia after saying something random.
“No.” -Me
“Are you going to post that I just asked if you were going to post that?” -Mia
“Yup!” -Me
“Oh great. Great. Great!” -Mia 

“But I don’t think I’m hilarious.” -Me 
“But I think you are." -Mom

"It takes an hour to enjoy a cup of coffee properly." -Me 
"Well apparently I only need ten minutes." -Chloe  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Goodbye 2015, Welcome 2016

It's almost that simple...but not quite

Days in the Life...

Thursday morning Mom and Chloe left for a coffee date to work on planning Chloe's school semester and doing some goal setting for her.

Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil were around in the afternoon.

In the evening they, along with Nana, Grandfather, and one other guest gathered at our house for dinner in honor of Christmas- wait- no- already did that... New Year's Eve.

With Uncle Phil around I always find it difficult to eat (without dying choking). That night our other guest was also a person with a great sense of humor. I was so grateful to survive the rest of 2015. Laughing is my favorite.

I think I lost my can call me Snow White. 

After eating dinner and cleaning it up together, we gathered in the living room to watch "What If..." It was really good, the target audience is not children, but the littles had no problem seeing it. 

When the movie ended we went around the room sharing our thoughts from 2015 and what we were excited about and praying about looking at 2016. Finally Grandfather prayed over us. The Enemy hates that we love each other and want and look forward to times like that where we are open with each other. Go ahead and make him angry too. You will be blessed in the process. 

The time was nearing 11:00 pm by the time we concluded our sharing time and several of us decided a second dinner would be good. The rest found the Christmas cookies. I know, with how many times we baked it's absolutely shocking that we would still have some. Totally. 

Then we watched, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," another family favorite and at least of couple of the group had yet to see it. 

And so 2015 ended and 2016 began and we told each other "happy new year" and "see you in the morning again when the sun is up." If we had not been all together, I doubt many of us would have actually made it to midnight without falling asleep. 

Friday morning the rest of the Christmas/winter decorations disappeared and the year-round ones were put in their place.

Uncle Phil and everyone except Christian and Mom did "Cize." It was fun! Especially with Uncle Phil's commentary. Doing it the second time around was easier and we were much less sore the 48 hours following as compared to the previous week. 

After much need showers and some lunch we all took family to see the little house we will be working on.

Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil ate dinner next door and then the kids watched a movie while Mom, Dad, and I went over for dessert and to visit. 

Our visit covered things from health, to raising children, to Godly influences, to our personal family favorite discussion (aside from Maui)- our next ski trip. 

The reason we love to talk about it is because we all know how unlikely it is to happen again (We went to Pagosa Springs to ski the year I was 9) and because Uncle Phil has never skied and never wants to and Mom is right there with him (although she has done it, she does not enjoy it). He comes up with all manner of reasons why not to go and what would (likely) happen if we did go and he did ski. 

Most of the adults in Mom's family really enjoy skiing, as does Dad. The littles have never done it. Christian would (probably) be a natural and therefore an expert after 30 minutes back on the slopes. Chloe is sometimes not very coordinated and would rather read a book. The one time I went skiing, I ended the day by falling at the top of the highest slope and having to ride in the emergency sled all the way down because they thought my leg was broken. 

This time the conversation got serious enough that Dad was "just for point of reference" looking up the price of lift tickets and rental equipment. They also got so far as "throwing out names" of people we know that own vacation houses up there. 

I think it would be fun! Obviously it's been a while since I was in the mountains and from pictures I've seen, it's gorgeous. I don't like the cold, at all, but I've had very limited opportunity to play in real snow. 

Skiing could be fun...maybe for a couple of hours. 

But the idea of sitting wrapped in a blanket by the fire, with the pile of books I've wanted to read for years a long while, and a mug of coffee, and a view of breathtaking, snow covered, mountains, yeah, that sounds really wonderful to me. Plus time with family in the evenings. A cherry on top would be getting to take Kate with me, however, I seriously doubt her family would be willing to part with her for so long. I really do look forward to having my own children one day, Lord willing. 

Saturday Chloe and I did baking for Sunday and most of the adults got massages next door. 

Praise report- I had almost no pain in my neck, back, and shoulders (aside from soreness from Cize) between that and my last massage a couple of weeks prior.

Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil had to head back to Dallas after lunch. *Tears* 

Mom and Dad were greeters at church and the service time has been moved from 6:30 to 6:00 so we left early. 

At home we had burgers before bed. 

Sunday morning we all were downstairs ready for the day and had eaten breakfast by 8:00 ish. So it was really 8:43. We all worked together to finish preparing the house and getting food ready for our open house/church gathering in honor of the New Year. 

By 10:00 on the dot we were all ready. Then we took a nap waiting for people to arrive. 

Over the course of the day we had 53 people through. Everyone visited and ate and the kids played outside and I got to meet the sweet little boy I'll be nannying in addition to his 2 year old sister whom I have watched several times before. 

Yup! Already in love. Definitely. 

I also learned a new game (Settlers of Catan).
And accidentally won twice even though I had no idea what I was doing.

We had a time of sharing as well.

The last people left close to 4:00ish and most everything was already done being cleaned up. At that point we crashed in the living room to talk about what Speech and Debate tournaments we want to do in the coming semester. 

Dinner was whatever we found and then we got ready for bed and watched "Do You Believe?" Wow. That movie was amazing. It was powerful. The littles found it intense (and so did I), but they could handle it (I screamed). I would watch it again, hands down, and recommend it for sure. 

Monday we all were moving by 8:00 trying to get back into a good schedule. Everyone gathered at 10:00 to do Cize together. 

Every time we have done it I have had issues with my hair falling out of it's ponytail. Today I french braided it, thinking that would surely solve my problems. Some time early on (I don't know when) my elastic went flying never to be found again and pretty soon my braid fell out completely. I give up. I'll just do it with my mane down from now on. Hopefully I wouldn't lose my balance again because of it. 

Everyone is getting better and better at the routine. It really is fun and doing it all together is awesome. We like to call ourselves "the fit family." 

In the afternoon a friend came over to do some sewing with us girls. 

Chloe is so close to getting her drivers license. She and Mom went out after dinner to get an hour in and now she just has 2 left (I believe). Ava is excited that Chloe will soon be able to take her to the library whenever she wants to go. (Because Chloe is always up for a trip to the library.) 

I've been Pondering...

Identity. We struggle with it. All of us, but especially as girls and women. This struggle began in the garden with Eve and the fall. She allowed the devil to speak lies into her life about how God viewed her and His plans for her. Now each of us shares in the battle over how we view ourselves, the worry of how others view us, and doubting God's love for us. We have forgotten that the only opinion that matters is God's and so we wrestle with doubt and fear and insecurity. 

This is an area I have experienced tremendous growth in this past year. But I was not consciously trying to become more confident. No, I was simply seeking God. The more I learned about Him, the more I began to see how He views me. And as I gained a clearer understanding of His love for me, the more sure I became of my identity in Him and therefore the more confident I became as a person. 

Please don't misunderstand me, I've not "made it", I still struggle sometimes. But those times that I do struggle I realize are the times I have allowed myself to turn away from truth and open the door to the lies of the enemy. 

Sometimes it can be hard to not want to put up a front, play a part, pretend you are someone you are not, someone you wish you were or that you think others would be more drawn to. But that is not being who God created you to be. And if you cannot be who you are, share your struggles, be open and real about what is going on in your life, then no one will be able to relate to you and you will miss the opportunity to be blessed by those who can come along side of you and encourage you and walk with you through your struggles. Not to mention, acting is hard and one day you will slip, your mask will fall off, and in the end the mess you hid will be revealed as worse than you imagined because you tried to deal with it all on your own. 

Be real. Be open. Be honest. Be comfortable with who you are knowing that you bring glory and honor to God as His masterpiece. Be confident that the work Christ has begun in you will continue until you go home. 

It's not easy, but He is faithful.

Welcome 2016, although I have no idea what you hold for me, I'm excited to see what the Lord has planned. 

Last year was so different from what I envisioned, but I grew in so many ways because of the unexpected. 

Completing Challenge III (with Classical Conversations), learning to make hard life decisions, having my first big summer job, being challenged on what I believe, resting in Maui, being flexible as Mom and Dad both navigated health challenges, balancing college work and nanny jobs, and sleeping what feels like all of December, summarizes some large things. 

But this year I also got my license, became an adult, grew in the areas of flexibility and patience, learned to embrace change and navigate transition, watched my church go through a rough time and come through closer as a body and even more aware of the hand of God, and strengthened old friendships and gained new ones. 

Many of "my plans" and for the year were not realized, but I am so glad! God's plan was SO MUCH BETTER! Certainly not easier, but I would not have changed one piece. 

So I'm thrilled to embrace a new year and look forward to the plans God has, the areas He wants me to grow, the experiences He has in store for me, the relationships He is forming, and whatever else He brings into my path, because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, whatever He has is for my good and for His glory.

That Moment When...

Dad tells someone else's child to finish their water thinking he is talking to Ava. 

Your hands are so small and the orange is so big that you can't get a good grip on it to get the zest off.

The Herd: Quoted 

"Real mayonnaise, wow, I can't believe I get real mayonnaise! I've never had that before!" -Mia getting truly excited as she reads the mayonnaise package at dinner.

"Dad, if we watch anther movie can we watch something that is actually interesting?" -Mia after we watched "What If..." (It was a little above her.)