Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Eve

Every Christmas Eve, our family has a tradition to celebrate the ringing in of the holiday festivities by having a party at Nana and Papa's house. In the past 18 years or so that I have been a guest we have had as many as 30 or so people at this annual get together. Years ago a tradition began that we would all go to a Christmas Candlelight Service, then to their home to feast on yummy hors d'oeuvres. YUMMY! I mean a spread like none other. . wings, meatballs, dips, desserts, sausage balls, and any other type of typical holiday snack treats you can imagine.

The kids in their traditional Christmas Eve photo. Somehow all of their outfits coordinated, scout's honor I didn't do it!

Our entire clan with J's family. Notice little AC's face, somehow a precious smile was captured, I loved her expression in this one!

The family with Memom and Pops!

Once our kiddos came into the picture, we started a family tradition of giving the kids fun PJs each Christmas Eve night, sometimes matching, then they would change quickly into their matching comfy PJs, then be ready to head to bed as soon as we got home. This year I thought I would stray from my usual tradition colors of Christmas and go with a fun, wintry, pink and green! Remember we have 9 girls at home right now, lots of pink. The boys were great sports and enjoyed their green penguin pants and little J's fun Santa green PJs. Enjoy the fun photos of our festive night.

AC opening her first set of Christmas jammies. Priceless.

All dressed and ready for bed. Notice the one little elf lying in the front!

Have my youngest set of children decided to form some type of gang I do not know about it. Notice the gang signs? If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this one describes our family a little better. True life. It's great.

And after that, "the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nick soon would be there. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Check back in the next few days. . I hope to keep posting and catch us all up to Christmas Day in our home!

Enjoying the Season!

I absolutely LOVE Christmas time! Love it! However, we 11 children to buy for and some 30 teachers, many relatives and friends. . Christmas, the real Christmas I love, somehow like many of you find, got lost by the wayside. I tried at all times to soak in the meaning of the Advent season:

There's not much I can say about this photo! Just glad I captured the moment!

Not much I can say about this one either

Little J saying his much practiced line in his school Christmas program. "And all who heard the story were astonished"! Dear Lord, may we be astonished by the story of Jesus' birth EVERY time we hear it again. God being made into flesh astonishes me time and time again.

Making cupcakes for Christmas, YUMMY!

M. E. is always very creative in her decorating and includes LOTS of sprinkles. She is always faithful to taste a few too!

Preparing for Christmas!

I am completely months behind on my posts, so I thought I would at least take the next couple of days to catch myself up on December. . over the last days and weeks, we have been doing lots that led us up to the past few days. We always start the Advent season by putting up two Frasier Fir trees in our home. . one is always large and one is smaller. We have lots of fun doing this as a family. And it is always inevitable that the larger tree ornaments (my "fancy" ones) get broken. The kids always anticipate whom I will "fire" over the course of the decorating process. It's usually the poor soul that allows the ornaments to slip through their fingers and crash onto our hardwood floors. Ironically, it was me this year. Oh well.

I actually recorded a few moments of our hard labor that day!

The crew away at their work!

The tree above is the smaller tree we traditionally decorate in our den, our main family room. Around December 14th, I noticed it was already dead as a doornail. . I had forgotten to close the heat vent above the tree this year. So for two straight weeks, hot air had been blowing on our beloved evergreen. The next day, my sweet hubby went back to the tree farm, and they replaced our tree for free. However, that meant undecorating the tree and redecorating a new one. Thanks to M, who was already home from college, we knocked it out BY OURSELVES! The new tree below:

This is a shot of our "big" tree once it was completed. . notice the "after" shot below. It was taken weeks later once it had gotten very brittle and lots of presents underneath!

We are always very proud of our trees over the course of the Advent Season. . they represent to us a symbol of Christmas we love to look at the entire month! Now, unfortunately it is time to take them down. Brittle needles are piling up on our floors. . we will endure them a few more days then enjoy a family bonfire out back! Enjoy your trees for just a few more days!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Notice the update!

Hello out there to everyone wondering if I have dropped off the face of the earth. . I haven't. I feel like I have, but I haven't. It was time for an update, so enjoy the Christmas music and new photo. Hopefully there will be much more to come very soon. I miss you all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And you think you've had bad hair days!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Goodbye Sweet Friend!

Maurine's Gracie May 1996-2009

It was a sunny day, some 13 years ago. . as J and I were driving back from Birmingham, we talked and chatted about all the fun plans in our near future. I had just graduated from college that day. . was engaged to be married in a few months. . had just purchased our first home. . .was starting a new teaching job in a mere 3 months. . and . . we were on our way to purchase my graduation gift. . . a new puppy.

I remember vividly going to the breeders home to get our new dog. The dog that J had selected was cute, but one special dog stuck out immediately. She immediately came up to me and grazed my leg, and I knew it, "no, I told J, this is the one. She is precious." I held her in my lap all the way home, a new life, a new baby, a new one to love . . together. We name her Gracie. Puppies are hard, they chew everything, bite at you, but they are also precious, and she was ours, together.

Fast forward, I became pregnant with S, our first. Gracie laid on my lap every evening, we bonded. . she felt it with me, literally. Gracie had a phenomenon that is called a faux pregnancy or a parallel pregnancy. She literally started lactating and thought, she was having babies too. Precious. Our vet was amazed and said it was one of the first cases he had ever seen. Tender, sweet Gracie.

Fast forward, we moved to our current home, and life could not have been better for a sweet English Springer Spaniel. She had it made out in the country, deer to chase, stray cats to bark at, and a home to defend. And boy did she defend it. She barked at the sight of any newcomer, and once she knew you, she didn't. She was a true friend. She was also a friend to many of the children that have lived here. They have all had their turns bathing her, walking her, trimming her long hair, giving her treats to get her out of the house, and loving her.

Fast forward, last year, J took her for a check-up and just knew the Vet would give him the worst news. . however, she had a clean bill of health, she was just old. Over the past year, every time we left to go on a trip, J always told her bye, Just in case it would be the last. However, she has held on. She was always there for us, always happy, ready to greet us, and she never ever minded if we told her to move it, or get out of the way. Bless her heart, she could hardly see and was definitely deaf.

This evening, I looked out the front door and noticed she was laying still, shaking, and barely breathing. I knew something was wrong, she was covered in flies. I immediately called J and told him what was happening, this was it. I knew it. After a quick call to the same vet, the inevitable news had come. It was time. J rushed home, and in the mean time, she had wandered off near our road. We believe she was leaving to die. The kids wooed her back and she wearily fell down into our dog crate. By the time J got here, she couldn't even get up. The happy dog, that always, always, greeted us, could not move. He lifted her into the back of the truck, I rubbed her head goodbye, and headed back inside the front door only to see tender eyes (a lot of them) looking at me, crying their hearts out because their dog was never coming back. She was so sick and smelled so bad, I wouldn't let them go out to say goodbye. I didn't want the kids to remember her like that.

We immediately plopped down in front of the photo albums to find pictures of her to cherish. The first picture I found was of J holding her as a teeny, tiny puppy in our teeny, tiny new house. . can't get it to scan. But I remember it like it was yesterday. She represents for me, the beginning, the beginning of my life as a real adult, and she was one I took care of. The kids enjoyed making a new album with all the pictures we could find of her. They sobbed and sobbed. Little J would run back to his room with a picture of her and cry on his bed, "she's never coming back, forever." Little T sobbed, "when I first came here, I was so happy, I never had a dog before. And, I would pet her every morning before school." How to console broken hearts that so long for a sweet friend that is forever gone? When inside, I feel the same way. I wanted to take that picture of her as a puppy, run and jump on my bed and cry my eyes out. . so. . they're in bed, and now I can cry, and remember all those happy days with a sweet dog on my lap.

Goodbye girl, we love you!
The W Family

Monday, September 28, 2009

S Turns 10!!!!

It was this very time 10 years ago that I first became a mother. Happy Anniversary to me! It was also in this moment 10 years ago, I first held a child that was my very own!!

Now here we are: She is in the 4th grade, almost as tall as me, wears a size 7 shoe in women's, and is growing every day! She is my beautiful blond beauty, somehow she has kept that toe-head white hair, and inspires me daily. She is an encourager by nature and a lover of God and His creation. She inspires me to love everything I see around me He made. Her favorites of all His animals are dolphins and killer whales. We decided to give her a trip for her 10th birthday to travel with J to Orlando to "swim" with dolphins.

Her anticipation for this trip lasted for many weeks, and she loved telling almost everyone she was going! We worked to combine reward points, sky miles, and any other spare change to get her to her dream world! DISCOVERY COVE AND SEA WORLD
The child has memorized the DVD show we bought from Sea World last year, which includes the Shamu "Believe" show. Her dream is to be a "whale trainer", and she could actually do it. (she amazes me with her knowledge of animals, I was never like that, she gets it from J)

So Friday morning at 5 AM, the child sprung from her bed to set on a journey with her Daddy to fly to Orlando for her big moment. She had carefully even packed and planned all she needed in a "carry on" backpack so she wouldn't have to wait at baggage claim!

So off they went immediately to Sea World, where she immediately hit the ground running and got to "feed" dolphins. We usually go to Sea World every other summer and have never been able to get this close and personal with the dolphins in the feeding area.

The rest of the day at Sea World included visiting sting rays, penguins, sea turtles, then finally the wonderful Shamu Stadium where her Dad had promised a front row view in the "soak zone". Have you ever been in any area called a "soak zone?" I have personally seen this show and have NEVER had an interest to get this wet! S couldn't wait!

This is before the show, I am told as close as anyone was allowed to sit. Notice the 52 degree pool of water behind her!

Here are more shots from the Shamu Show! If you have never taken your kids to Sea World! It is a must see! We love it!

Can you imagine a wall of water coming towards you this close?

This is what happens when it does!

Apparently, this is the coolest trainer in the world!

After an exhausting day at Sea World, they headed to their hotel to rest for her big day Saturday. The. day. she. would. swim. with. real. dolphins. Here it is:

This was a pretty cool moment for Daddy too!

Here's a few others from Discovery Cove:

After their restful evening they headed back to Sea World to watch the Believe show again and enjoyed a ride on the Sea World roller coasters. After that, S enjoyed a doo from Bibbity Bobbity Boutique at Downtown Disney. I am told this was the Disney Diva Doo!

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl! May God continue to help you grow and learn about Him every day!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I heart Clorox Wipes!

With the threat of Swine Flu looming in the present day, I am so fearful my sweet children will get it. I just read an article on Yahoo's main headline page yesterday that a sweet little 5 year old boy, that was otherwise healthy died from contracting Swine Flu!

My only attempt in preventing this from coming into our home has been "WASH YOUR HANDS IMMEDIATELY!" once they come in from school. But I just don't know if that's going to totally rid our risks from getting it. With a sweet 3 month old at home, I am particularly sensitive to the virus in our community. So far, no children that attend our schools have had it, but it is currently in our town! It's everywhere! I saw a statistic online as well that the CDC predicts 90,000 people will die from Swine Flu in the next year. WOW! I do think they may be overshooting the estimate, but given young children (which I have ) and seniors it may be quite a few. Needless to say, we WILL be getting the vacine!

During the month of October, I receive a happy visit (sarcastic tone given) from our state licensing lady. The following is the list of how I am to "keep" my home and present it as she inspects my home during a walk -through once a year.

I must:
have all products that say "keep out of reach from children" away from their rooms and bedrooms.
-have all knives, scissors and sharp objects locked in a box (even in my kitchen)
-I can have no food products stored unless they are in an airtight container (includes in the fridge or freezer) I got "written" up one year for having aluminum foil covering something in the fridge
-NO expired foods, SPICES (got written up for that one year too), or medicines! Period.
-CLEAN -microwaves, ovens, toaster ovens, sinks, trashcans, etc.
-all knobs on kids' dressers ( do you know how easily kids pull those things off!)
-all medicines locked in a cabinet
-all cleaning supplies locked in a cabinet

Needless to say, for the next two weeks, I am going to be busy! I went to Sam's and bought a bulk supply of clorox wipes! Plus with my fear of swine flu-I figure I might as well carry clorox wipes on a tool belt. I have wiped everything in my home today- from baseboards to the inside of my oven! My little fingers are so pruned and peeling, they are screaming for a REAL manicure. Doesn't look likely though, all those utensils might have swine flu on them.

Oh well, I must clean some more! Keep your kids clean and safe from germs! Mom of Eleven says go buy clorox wipes!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ann Claire's Baptism

Well, I shouldn't have even typed it last night. . you know, about Ann Claire being so peaceful and all. . she cried through her baptism today. . she hardly ever does! Anyway, all in all , it was a special service, as well as special time with family and friends this afternoon for lunch.

I wanted to take a little writing time to tell about the baptism dress that Ann Claire wore today. She is the 5th person to actually wear it in our family, with her daddy being the 1st. J's mother made it herself 35 years ago by hand, never knowing 35 years later her granddaughter would wear it as well as the other 3 grand kids that have worn it too. I tried to capture the beauty of this special family heirloom by using our special lens.

J's mother hand sewed these tiny pearls on each arm and around the neck as well as the bows for each of our girl's baptism. When we had J, she took them off by hand, then had to re-sew them once we had Ann Claire. Talk about a labor of love!

These buttons are tiny, and were actually carried by J's Grammy in her apron pocket when she mended her 8 children's clothing.

J's hand gives the size perspective of these special little buttons

Here are more special moments from today:(special thanks to JMom at Lots of Scotts for taking the photos at church!)

Little J's first time to wear a tie. Thank goodness it had dinosaurs on it (his favorite). Otherwise, I don't think he would have worn it!

Our pastor reading special verses about children and the covenant they are under as children of believer's. Sweet moment!

Sweet moment of baptism. Such a symbol of dedicating her to the Lord! Thank you Lord for this sweet baby you have given us!

This is when the crying erupted, our pastor continued the blessing over her. As soon as he stopped, he grabbed her pacifier shoved it in, and silence. . the congregation erupted in laughter. It was great! She put on quite the performance.

I used this opportunity to update the main photo on my blog. I realized I didn't even have Ann Claire in it. So. . my kids were good sports about coordinating outfits. ( I think they hated it!)

Sweet moments with the grandparents.
Nana, Papa, and Ann Claire

Sweet Baby Girl!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ann Claire is 3 months!

Wow, my how the past three months have flown by. It seems like yesterday we were anxiously awaiting her arrival and I was begging J to travel to Waffle House at 12 AM for waffles. Well, here we are three months later, and our little angel is getting baptized in the morning. I promised myself that tonight was my deadline to post about her and how she has changed our lives. I have also failed to post about her changes each month, even though I have documented them on my camera!

A year ago, another baby was not even on the radar for us. Life with 11, well 10 at home, one had just gone to college, was crazy to say the least. I honestly was very shocked and even a little in awe that I was even pregnant. God had bigger plans for our family. . it would get bigger, literally. The last year has proven to test all of my patience and my physical abilities. Carrying a child at 35 is hard, yes I know women do it all the time, but it was hard. . very. hard. We went to work on our plans of how she would fit in, where she would go physically at night in our home, we didn't even think we really had room for her. I feel so bad now looking back, and even admitting, it all seemed like a burden.

God has blessed us with the most angel of a baby I have ever seen. She is VERY good, had no colic, is sleeping through the night, and is very peaceful. I will never forget when the nurse brought her into the hospital room at 5 AM one morning. . she was bundled up tight like a little Russian baby. . you know when they are swaddled and they look like little dolls. She had a tiny hot pink bow in her hair (at 5 AM, mind you). I took one look at her, and I knew it. . she was special, and she was mine! I immediately told J at that moment, "I take it all back, every complaint, ever gripe, and whine about being pregnant, she is worth it all!" Isn't it crazy how our babies make us forget the past nine months as if they never happened. Not to mention the pain of childbirth we just experienced. . she has changed me in other ways too.

She is laid back, therefore I am more laid back. I feel in some ways she has calmed me down. Things that used to bother me, I just shrug and say, "whatever, it will be there tomorrow, I am not getting stressed over that". (plus with a 3 month old, I don't have the time or energy, but because of her it's worth it!)

I wanted to quickly post about her and someday I will write the whole birth experience, it's funny!

One Month!

Two Months!

Three Months!

Our littlest angel is growing!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lots more to come. . very soon!

Hello to all my friends in blogger world. Well, how many times have I typed this before? Life is crazy, and I don't have time to blog. I have hundreds of pictures on my camera and long for time to sit and load them onto my computer and post about every fun thing going on in our lives. BUT, I just. don't. have. the. time. Time. Where does it go? How fast it seems to slip through our hands.

Just this weekend, little S, who is turning 10 this month, got new shoes. Her N took her for me as I was away on a little quick mommy trip. They called me to exclaim she needed a size 7, yes size 7 in new tennis shoes. What? I screamed! What happened to going through size 4 and 5 in children's shoes? I am barely a size 6 as is my mother and her mother, so naturally I guess I thought S would just stay there too. I am sad by this, not that she is growing, but well, that she is? Does that make sense to anyone? We never even got to share shoes! Time is moving fast, and that is only one example of how quickly these kids are passing through life.

-Ann Claire is 3 months today
-S is turning 10
-ME is turning 7
-R is playing in his first varsity football game
-Big T is going to knock out a killer score on the ACT and SAT
-M is coming home from college for a visit
-ME cheers in her first Jr. Pee Wee game
-Ann Claire is getting baptized

. . and much more, and that's just in the next 3 weeks. Not to mention the daily grind of life with 10 kids at home. Cheerleading practices, dance lessons 3 days a week, football practice, bible studies, school, homework, church, choir, and so on. That's just my week in a nutshell! Blogging has taken a back seat and I miss it. It has been a way for me to unwind, share, vent, journal, document, and socialize w/ peeps I have never personally met. Hang in there and check back with us soon! I will be praying for God to give me a little time to catch up and catch my breath!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

J as a guest blogger!

My hubby wrote this last week when M left for school, I had to share his awesome writing!

“Weeds…Or Rose Stems?”

If a tiny sparrow cannot fall without His knowledge, nor an empire be raised without His aid, then who do we think we are? What an arrogant lot we have become.

Today epitomized the phrase, “bitter sweet”, as we sent one of our own out into the world. Much like a mother bird nudges her fledglings out of the nest for the first time, we are putting the strength of this child’s wings to the test. It was as if we were the police escort in a parade, peeling off onto a side street, forcing…allowing this child to continue the route of life’s parade alone. My wife and I moved a daughter into college today.

Truth be told, I wasn’t quite ready, nor prepared for this day. For several days, I had been asking myself, “Is she ready? Have I done my part, and all that I could do to prepare her for this journey?” I wasn’t ready for this because the answer to that question was “no”. Therefore, this self evaluation I was working through was causing me to have feelings of fear and doubt. Little did I know God was going to set me straight soon enough.

After tight, longer than normal hugs of sadness and well wishes from the other children, all trying to hold in their emotions, we headed Northward on our two hour journey. During the drive, my wife and daughter in the car ahead of me, my van remained silent and void of any phone conversations, radio talk shows, upbeat Christian music and the like. I use the term “silent” loosely as the thoughts that pounded my brain seemed as loud and as deafening as a late summer thunder storm. Nonetheless, I was left alone with my feelings and emotions as well as the difficult task of composing myself for the rapidly approaching time when we would actually drive away, leaving her there alone. I was resolute in the quest of not allowing myself to become overly emotional for fear of upsetting her and making a very happy and joyful experience something negative or sad.

As I drove, up into the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, any feelings of sadness were overshadowed by one thought that kept ringing in my head…”I can’t believe this. Look how far this child has come.” With each curve in the road I rounded and each mile marker I put behind me, I became increasing amazed at the significance and truly wonderful experience we were engaged in. So wonderful because there was a time when I wasn’t sure this dream we had for her would actually come to fruition.

Seven years ago on Christmas Eve, only the second night we had slept in our new home, we welcomed this child into our family and committed to God that we would raise her as our own. Little did we know that the nervous excitement we felt those first few months would turn to fear, anger, confusion, desperation, uncertainty and grief in the years to come. Even worse, there came a time when the situation was so serious that the future of our family as well as her place in it was in question. Hence the reason for the flood of deep, heartfelt emotions and the shear amazement at the day’s coming events. On several occasions, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and the sheepish grin that seemed to be fixed on my face…and I was pleased.

Upon arrival at the college, we all busied ourselves with unloading, unpacking and the general tasks that accompany “getting settled in”. When the work began to lessen and come to an end, I felt a lump forming in my throat. To avoid shedding a tear or two, I promptly offered to head to Walmart for several forgotten necessities and to get her stocked up on a few food items to fill her new mini-fridge. She appreciated the thought, so off I went.

After laboring to climb the seemingly endless hill behind her dorm and the half mile trek that lay between me and where I had parked, I received one of the most significant whisperings from the Lord I had ever received.

Pulling out of the parking lot, I began feeling really good about what we had done to get this child where she was. I was so proud we had not given up when that seemed the most logical option and was more than willing to accept any praise or credit, if you will, for the blessed situation we found ourselves in. I thought to myself, “Wow! We did it. Look what a great job we did with her. It was tough, but we are some seriously talented and gifted parents. She was so lucky to have us.” It was at that moment that my perspective on parenting was forever changed.

At the height of my joy and self glorification session, the Lord spoke to me in that still, small, yet very powerful and clear voice. It was as if I audibly heard Him say, “How much do you think you really had to do with all of this? Do you actually believe this accomplishment and growth in her life was due to your abilities as a Father? Have you become so prideful and caught up in what you think you can do that you don’t recognize or won’t acknowledge what I am doing? I am the one who makes all things new!” I was stunned…frozen. I instantly thought of the scripture, “he who exalts himself will be humbled; he who humbles himself will be exalted”. There was no doubt, nor wiggle room now…I was indeed being humbled.

It was then that all the questions, concerns and frustrations about parenting became extremely clear to me. These children are not mine. They are but a gift from God, who has blessed us with their lives and entrusted us with their care. Of course, I knew all of this already and probably couldn’t count the times I had uttered those truths to other parents, thinking I was showering them with such wise council from me, the professional father that I am. However, now, I really got it!

All the prideful happiness I had been feeling quickly turned to guilt as I realized how selfish and ungodly my thoughts had been. Thankfully, while the guilt never completely disappeared, the happiness returned, as did my sheepish smile. Just enough of the guilt remained to keep me humble and by the time I arrived back at the college, I was once again amazed and happy, only this time, I was more consumed with praise and thanksgiving. As a selfish, sinful man, I had neglected to give God the glory for all He had done in our lives. I was giving myself the glory that was without question, due Him.

When the time we had all been dreading was finally at hand, we gave her a hug, told her how much we loved her and how proud we were of her and headed quickly for the door. With that, in a brief moment, our lives as well as our family, were changed forever.

Much like our morning jaunt, the drive home was understandably still, somewhat bitter sweet. I kept torturing myself by looking at a picture I had taken on my phone just before we left. While the picture shows an eighteen-year-old young lady, sitting on her clean, neatly made bed, beside her little desk not yet cluttered with semester outlines, campus parking tickets or unfinished term papers, with a smile on her face, ready to write the next chapter in her book of life…I couldn’t help but see something else. I saw one of my little girls, sitting on a bed I could no longer tell her to make, beside a desk I could not go through to make sure her homework was done, with a very frightened and fake smile on her face, not at all ready to face this big bad world without her dad. However, giving it a second glance, I now see a beautiful young lady God had blessed us to know and love, growing in her faith in Christ, safe in her true father’s embrace, standing at the doorway of whatever life she chooses to lead, who was never mine to keep. A precious life in which God had allowed me to be His hands and feet and most of all, a reason to glorify Him.

In life and especially in the context of parenting, depending on our focus and perspective, we really do have the ability to see what we want to see. Often times, we look at what lies before us and we see weeds. Weeds that are unsightly, out of control and that we are going to have to weave, chop and mow our way through. That is if we are looking straight ahead and from our earthly perspective. We see weeds that WE are going to have to deal with and that WE are going to have to get under control. If you can relate to this analogy, I urge you to give this a try.

Turn you gaze towards heaven. Let go of the idea that you are in control and realize your insignificance when you stand alone. Focus your eyes, your thoughts, your actions on Christ. For when you do this…when you look up…your view will indeed change. For what you thought were weeds were never really weeds at all. They are rose stems, crowned with the most beautiful, amazing, colorful roses you could ever imagine. Roses so incredible, you could never hope to grow or produce them on your own.

Train your children in the way they should go and don’t try to claim them as your own. Accept, acknowledge and take very seriously the blessing of being their parent. Realize what a true gift they are, especially when the “blessing” seems more of a “burden”. Don’t think for a moment you know better than their creator as to what’s best for them. Understand that the struggles only build strength they will one day need. Know that you are not alone. Present them to the Lord and let Him ensure that your “weeds” are indeed “rose stems”…just as they were all along.

written by : JKW

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back into Real Life!

I have to say having the kids back in school has been nice, quiet, and a breath of fresh air. BUT it was hard getting them there. I actually started buying school supplies last May once they got out of school in an attempt to be ahead with a new baby on the way. We knew our beach trip would coinside with school starting back up, so we had all school supplies ready for delivery before we left. That also meant a trip to the Uniform store an hour away before the beach as well. We still need to make a trip to the shoe store this weekend for new shoes for everyone. . . as I was thinking of all we have done since we have been home from the beach. . it made me want to go back. . then I realized, I haven't even posted about our trip! So here goes:

Two days before our departure I received a phone call from one of the moms in our organization. She called to report that the house we were to stay in, they were to have stayed in it the week before us but didn't because it was infested with a snake in the master bedroom somewhere hiding, some sort of rodent droppings, AND flying ants? So. . . I knew immediately that wouldn't do, so after a few immediate phone calls and conversations. . we had been given permission to stay in a larger house a little further away from the beach. . none of the families from our organization had ever been allowed to stay there, needless to say, my kids were not allowed to touch anything! We were very careful and took very good care of this house! We did not want to blow it.

Our time away was actually one of the better vacations we have taken with ALL the kids. There were no major arguments, we accomplished the celebration of Little T's bday, had only one head injury that might could have used stitches, but thanks to Dr. Aunt Kelly it turned out alright, we enjoyed lots of walks on the beach to the ice cream truck, and had great quality time with cousins. . . we missed you Pops and Memom!

We warned the kids our journey to the beach south of Daytona would take the normal 9-10 hours with stops and with a newborn maybe longer. J hit an all time record by getting us there in a mere 8 hrs. and 37 minutes. We only made 3 stops, crazy, but Ann Claire picked that day as her sleepiest day ever, so we only stopped for one meal and potty breaks.

It takes an army to get us to the beach as well as a uhaul!

(this is how we roll!)

But our time there was a great success: Relaxation, rest, and FUN were our themes!

J sporting a fish he and R caught off of our back dock. We had a gorgeous freshwater lake that was home to an alligator!
Little T turned 10 during our vacation!

Ann Claire in her "beach" outfit. She never even saw the sand, but I couldn't resist the tiny flip flops!

This was taken just after sunrise as R was reeling in his first saltwater "catch".

R's first saltwater prize!

The girls in all their sunbathing glory!