Monday, April 25, 2011

A Sad Story

Our Daddy brought home some baby chicks a few weeks back, and the children were ecstatic! There were four, so Lauren, Gabriel, Annagrace, and Abbie Joy quickly claimed and named one to be their very own. We have been carefully nurturing these little fluff balls and watching them grow. It has been a big priority to make sure they were carefully kept out of the reach of the cat. Unfortunately, we do not know how, the barrier separating the cat from the chicks was moved a bit allowing just enough room for the cat to get into the chick's lodging space. Much to our grief two of the chicks are no more. Our sweet cat made dinner out of Lauren and Annagrace's chicks. Let me suffice it to say that there were many tears at our house last Saturday. On a happier note, our Daddy is planning to get new chicks when they become available at the feed store again. Hopefully that will be Wednesday morning.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our Garden

We have been enjoying watching the vegetables in our garden grow. Matt worked extremely hard to plant a garden, and now we are all enjoying seeing the fruit as the food is growing rapidly. So far we have enjoyed a few radishes, as you can see from the salad picture. Also, we are enjoying some fresh cucumbers, and the children even enjoy munching on raw green beans. We are looking forward to much good produce to come. It is a great science lesson for us all to see the different stages of growth with each plant.

A Blessed Easter to You!

I want to take a quick minute to wish our family and friends a blessed Easter Sunday. We did not have time to take family pictures before church, so we took these when we returned home this afternoon. For your amusement I am posting our silly picture along with the serious one. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Birds of a Feather

I have learned the hard way that it is way too easy to become overcommitted with extracurricular activities that keep a family running. Many times these activities are wonderful opportunities but come at a high price to family life. Our family has had to learn to pull back and do less so that we can be home more. Some years back I found myself very stressed out because we always had to be somewhere, and I was running ragged. As our family kept growing it became harder and harder to keep up with that pace. The Lord had to basically hit me over the head and show me that I was too busy. I thought long and hard and realized that we could be missing the BEST at the cost of the GOOD. I decided that I did not want to be so busy that we never had time at home. I did not want to run so much that I was always an exhausted and stressed out Mama. We began slowly making some lifestyle changes and pulling back. This past year we pretty much went cold turkey and pulled out of everything. It was necessary as we transitioned into a new home and also had another baby. What a freeing and refreshing thing to not be bound by activities any longer. It is not that I am against activities; I am just saying that it is very easy for things to get out of balance. I am constantly going before the Lord and praying about the right balance for our family. I feel like more and more He is showing me that we need to be home a lot so that I have time to train the children and teach them to love and serve their family. One benefit is that the children learn to play together and to be each others best friends. Yes, we have plenty of sibling rivalry, but this is an opportunity for character training. The Lord has been training me all the while and teaching me to value time spent at home.
This past January I did prayerfully decide to allow Lauren and Gabriel to participate in a homeschool play. It was a great experience for them. I liked the fact that two children could benefit from the same activity. That always makes something more worthwhile than driving five children out for an activity that only benefits one child. Lauren was a parrot, and Gabriel was a woodpecker. The play was about differing traits of various birds. It was fun for our family to go watch them perform the play, and we were super proud of them. We may even participate in another play in the fall.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Swim Lessons 2011

Every spring, for the past few years, we have taken swimming lessons at the Houston Swim Club. We love it there! The instruction is very good. The children have really enjoyed working their way up to the different levels. I am proud of my little fish for advancing again this year. Lauren made great strides. She went up two levels in two weeks. I am sure we will be back again next year as Abbie Joy and Lilly Faith still have not even started the program, and the others still have more levels to achieve.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sister Dresses

One thing we are focusing on around our home is following routines and training the older ones to help the younger ones. Even Annagrace got practice at this the other morning. I asked her to help Abbie Joy put on her dress. They went upstairs together, and to my delight they both came back dressed. I think Annagrace was happy that she had been able to help Abbie Joy. When a family reaches our size and everyone is home all day everyday learning teamwork is a must. I did way too much for Lauren and Gabriel just because I could. There simply is not enough of me to do everything anymore. I think it is healthy for everyone to learn to work and help one another. Annagrace and Abbie Joy are growing up in a different environment than Lauren and Gabriel for that very reason. They both love to help and to be praised for their work. Sometimes it is easier to try to do it all myself, but in the long run it is much more efficient to teach everyone to work hard and have a servants heart towards their family. Some days are better than others, but we are working very hard at this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Surprise Cake

As I have been sharing in the last few posts, Lauren and I enjoyed a special birthday trip to the American Girl Doll store in Dallas. I had made prior reservations with the Bistro to give her the surprise birthday celebration. The waitresses came out and sang to her and delivered a real cake. They also gave her a gift sack with a t shirt for her doll and a plastic balloon for her doll to hold. It was so fun to see her surprise.
After eating we went to the doll hair salon. The line was LONG, but we finally got Samantha's hair styled. We also had Samantha's ears pierced. We concluded our trip by shopping. Lauren had been saving her money and earning extra money by odd jobs around the house and also for memorizing Scripture. The choices were hard as to what to buy. You would not even BELIEVE all the accessories and clothes etc. I hope it will be a trip she will always remember. It was a special time.
One other thing we really enjoyed about our trip was listening to some Focus on the Family Radio dramas on the trip there and back. That was a surprise for her as well. On our way I pulled out the cd dramatization of Anne of Green Gables. We laughed a lot listening to that. Then on the way back I pulled out the dramatization of the Hiding Place about Corrie Ten Boon. That story was much more sobering and extremely inspiring. She has listened to the cds over and over since returning home. I just love good resources like that which inspire greatness in my children. I love for them to learn about great heroes of the faith such as Corrie Ten Boon and missionary stories. We have found that stories on cd are a very effective way for our children to learn.

Yummy Bistro Treats

Lauren and I really enjoyed the Bistro at the American Girl doll store. Their food was wonderful, and it was precious how a special chair was provided for her Samantha doll. One thing we really enjoyed was the conversation starter box. There was this cute little box with all kinds of random questions in it. We had to ask each other questions and answer them. Some were funny and some were just insightful. It really helped the conversation to flow between the different courses of our meal. I thought it was good bonding time.

American Girl Trip

My sweet Lauren turned ten years old last month. She is such a precious daughter and does so much to help me with her younger sisters. I see such a sweet heart of gold in her and really wanted to do something special for her for her tenth birthday. I decided to take her on our first mother/daughter trip. We went to Dallas and visited the American Girl Doll store. It was the first time either of us had been. Here are some pictures of our trip. I love you, Lauren!

p.s. I just had to share the picture of the bathroom stall. Isn't that hysterical that they have a place for the doll even in the bathroom?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bib Project

I have recently taken a little time for some handiwork. I love to craft and sew but do not have much time for such amusements. I did carve out a little time recently and was really happy with these bibs for Lilly Faith. They are pretty simple to make. I just used a bib that she already had for an outline when cutting them out. They wash up really nicely too.

Eight Months

Well, since Lilly Faith is days away from turning nine months it is due time I post her eighth month picture. You can see how much she is growing. She says Mama and Dada now. She is sooo sweet.