Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nature Walk

Today the children and I went and checked out a nature preserve with various hiking trails. We were pleasantly surprised to see some bluebonnets along one of the trails. We also saw butterflies, turtles, berries, and much more! I love walking with my children and seeing them get excited about the things they observe. This place had a really neat play area too. Afterwards we went to an adjoining park and had a very nice picnic together. This was a natural preserve, so it wasn't landscaped as a botanical garden would be. It was a different kind of beauty. It made me laugh when Annagrace sweetly asked why everything she saw was rotten. There were many dead limbs, shrubs, etc. in the thick of the woods there. I am thankful for sweet times with my children!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Passport to Purity Weekend

Earlier this month Lauren and I took a Passport to Purity weekend get away together. Passport to Purity is a material put out by the ministry of Family Life.

The material helps a mom or dad take a son or daughter away for a night or two and disciple them in the area of purity. The material consists of cds that can be listened to in the car as you drive. The preteen receives their own workbook and receives stickers as they progress through different lessons. There are fun projects to do as a parent/child as you progress through the lessons. The projects are basically like object lessons to illustrate principles taught in the lessons. One example was with puzzles and talking about how you need the box top of a puzzle to get it put together quickly. Just as you need to see the box top, God's Word is our box top for life. It shows us how to put the pieces of our lives together. The material explains in detail how to plan for the weekend. One suggestion is to schedule in a few hours just for a fun activity. Our activity was shopping and eating out. The most special thing was visiting a Vera Bradley store and each of us getting a new purse. It was Lauren's first Vera Bradley, so she was super excited. I really liked the material. Some of the things that were stressed are that the Lord is to be first place over all things in our lives. That includes our bodies and our purity.

Colossians 1:18
English Standard Version (ESV)
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Also, the material covered issues of peer pressure, of not running with the herd, of setting personal standards for purity way away from the cliff where you might fall off, and of listening to counsel from parents who have their child's best interest at heart. There was much wisdom in it all, and I was so pleased that Lauren responded with a heart that really wanted to commit to high standards in the area of purity.

The Lord is so good......Lauren wanted to get some milk. We went down to the lobby to buy a bottle. The milk bottle said "Passionate About Purity." How appropriate and how good of the Lord to encourage me that He was with us and even in the small details of a milk bottle. :)

Family Life suggested commemorating the weekend with a special gift for your son or daughter. My special gift to Lauren was a charm bracelet. I picked out a charm of a heart in the palm of a hand. I told her that it symbolizes her daddy and me holding her heart. One day we will give her over to the man she marries, but until then we will be here to help protect her and give her counsel towards a future spouse.

She is growing up so fast. I am very thankful that I was able to take this trip with her and discuss God's plan for her as His young lady. I was able to really challenge her to walk in purity, and I pray the Lord Jesus will give her the ability to stand strong in this very sinful culture in which she is growing up. I also pray that He is preparing a young man who is also guarding His heart and His way to be her husband one day.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Still Swimming

Well, we are still living and breathing the Houston Swim Club. We are going to lessons every morning, and it is going pretty well. I have to say that it is so much easier now that Lauren can help keep an eye on a little one if I need to take someone to the potty or to the pool, etc. We have a system that is working pretty well. Each child has all their clean clothes in their own large ziploc bag, and all the wet suits and towels go into an extra large ziploc bag. Any extras like a brush, shampoo, goggles, etc. go in a waterproof bag inside our large duffle bag. Even with all of that organization I have had trouble with all their shoes being handed off to me. Today I told them to stuff all the Crocs and sandals into the pockets on our double stroller. That worked better. Surviving everyday swim lessons has a lot to do with having a plan and a system that everyone understands. We do not do it perfectly, but this year does not seem as chaotic partly because we are doing things very systematically and also because Lauren is older and can help more. When we get home the whole bag of wet laundry goes into the wash and then gets folded and put back in our bag for the next day. Lauren is on the Patch level; you can see her pointing to the certificate on the wall. Also, she had fun today balancing a chip on her finger. If you have been to Houston Swim Club you know that each student is assigned a certain color of chip to identify which teacher/class they go to. Lilly Faith is the only one not taking lessons, but she is really enjoying the table with the blocks and just watching all the commotion. Abbie Joy has had a rough first week. I think there have been tears everyday, but I think she is enjoying it to some degree. She tells me that she had a good lessons, she was nice to Mr. Rudy, and she was kind to Mr. Rudy, and she blew bubbles. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A God-Centered Life

I just listened to this and was reminded of some things I need to remember!!!  One thing Nancy said was, "We live in a self centered world, but a true woman lives a God centered life."

A God-Centered Life

Monday, March 26, 2012

Swimming Lessons 2012

We have been taking swimming lessons at the Houston Swim Club for several years now. We usually go for an initial two week everyday session and have sometimes continued for awhile after that. We do not go through the summer or year round. We just take some lessons to give us a jump start before summer. I know my children would progress much faster if we went year round, but it has been exciting to see them improve from year to year. Lauren is a strong swimmer now and is just continuing to work up through the levels and different strokes. Each year it seems that I am either pregnant, bringing a new baby or putting a new swimmer in the water. This year Abbie Joy is our new swimmer. She was very excited to join the ranks of the big kids in our family . We have a problem though. She told me tonight, "Would I please tell her teacher that she does not know how to blow bubbles?" This was pretty funny coming from a three year old. She had thought it through and decided that Mama should just have a chat with him. When I explained that none of her classmates knew how to blow bubbles but they were there to learn.......the teacher would teach them....etc........she started crying. She cried and worried and worked herself up about it at bedtime of course. We finally just turned to the Lord and asked Him to give her courage. I have a feeling we may struggle a little over the next few days. Apparently she was not completely comfortable with the lesson today and what was expected of her. I feel confident about a positive outcome, however, because she has the same teacher that has been teaching our children year after year. He does a fantastic job. I have watched him year after year deal with crying children with kind and caring leadership. He is fully in control and yet builds relationship and earns their trust. I am so thankful the Lord allowed Abbie Joy to get this teacher. The Lord knew she was going to be fearful. I think by the end of her two week session she will be very enthusiastic and pleased with her progress.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Sunday Afternoon

Today was a good day. The children and I went to church and heard a guest pastor speak about spreading the gospel. One Scripture he shared that I loved was,

"Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, 18Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!"
- Habakkuk 3:17-19

So, today was a good day. Not an easy day but a good day. This afternoon the children and I spent some time outdoors. Here you can see some of the things that brought me joy today. Little girls in a new wagon; we wore our old one out. Little girls playing pretend birthday party with wildflowers, bubbles, baby chicks, a flower pot that is thriving, a nature loving daughter enjoying tadpoles, Sweet smiles..................Those were things to rejoice in this afternoon.
Tonight was taxing getting everyone fed, cleaned, and ready for bed. But it helps to think about the blessings of the afternoon. Tomorrow we start our yearly swimming lesson sessions. We will go everyday for a couple of weeks and it will be tiring, but the results are always so worth the effort. I am looking forward to seeing my children develop their swimming skills further this year. I also look forward to seeing them getting some really good daily exercise. I am hoping it will wear some of their energy off. :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

She Loves to Give

Recently I have seen Annagrace develop the love of giving. Her older sister, Lauren, is very much that way. It has just been since Christmas, however, that I have noticed Annagrace really thinking about what she can give to others. She gets very concerned if someone in our family is having a birthday and she can't figure out something to give them. She starts looking through her own things to pick something out to give. This morning she put together a gift for Gabriel's birthday and decorated the sack for it to go in. She worked hard on this, and I am so super proud of her.

New Life on the Farm

Recently our daddy brought home something really exciting. New baby chicks!!! We tried very hard to raise chickens last year, but sadly all our best efforts failed. Our poor chicks kept disappearing. We think between maybe the cat and a raccoon we know what happened. This year we are hoping for better results. As far as we know we have them safely concealed in a large dog house. My vision is to produce our own farm fresh eggs, but we will see............

Friday, March 23, 2012

For Her Baby Sister

For Lauren's birthday she received some new sewing patterns. One pattern was of a stuffed rabbit. My talented daughter surprised me by whipping out this adorable bunny for Lilly Faith. She was working on it during room time one afternoon. When she came downstairs she showed it to me and then presented it to Lilly Faith as she was waking up from her nap. I love to see my children love each other. Such sweet moments.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Word Puzzles

Tonight my hubby came home with a present for me. It was something I had waited years for. I finally entered the world of the iPhone! I have had an apple laptop for years and always wanted an iPhone to sync with it. For one reason or another, either the plan we had or some other reason it never made sense for me to get an iPhone. For sometime now we knew I would get one, but we had to wait until our plan made us eligible for a discount on a new phone. Today was the big day! I am excited because it has a super camera in it, and I can sync my pictures to my laptop so easily. I was amazed how fast they appeared on the laptop with no hassle at all. Well, enough about my new phone but after several years of waiting I am super excited.
Tonight my little girls found excitement in putting together word puzzles. I love to see them get excited about something like this. I am a little sad though as I look at these pictures and see how fast my Annagrace is leaving her preschool years. She is five and will be moving on past preschool before very long. It has been fun having my three littles all working together, but Annagrace is showing signs of growing older. She is sandwiched between my older two and my younger two, so sometimes she is running around trying to be older. At other times she is having fun with the younger two. Oh why do they have to grow so fast? Trying to enjoy the moments while they last.........

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recent Activity

We are very busy this spring. When it is not raining we have enjoyed preparing for some gardening. Annagrace was thrilled when I said we could turn an old sand box into her own garden.
As a family we are trying raised garden boxes from Sam's Club this year. Of course the kiddos thought it great fun to jump around in them as we were preparing things. Lauren and Gabriel were able to help assemble them which was nice.
Lilly Faith will entertain herself with anything. She found an old detergent bottle and had so much fun running around with it. Also, my littles are loving picking gobs of wildflowers, but I am having to teach them to distinguish between wild flowers and those bought for planting.
We have had a lot of rain, so things have been busy indoors too. My trio of little girls found it so fun to put Lilly Faith in a oversized bucket and pull her around the other day. I eventually had to rescue her, but it was a cute moment. I am finding that these munchkins don't even need tons of toys. They will find fun in just about anything. So there you have some of our recent happenings around here. :)