For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Here and Gone...

Dance Recital...Our two Princesses
Mia different from Spring Recital...she loved being on stage!Mandy...serious about her dancing Welcome to the Family ...Levi meets another part of his family and opens presents from grandparents and aunts to welcome him.Grandma made Levi a racecar blanket...Mia flirting with her Uncle J... Christmas Eve...time to open family presents...

One great big chaotic mess...What did you get,grandma?Santa came...

Nolie Sang....or is it Billy Ray? Happy,Happy Birthday Nolie!!

Look at all the smoke 12 candles made...

Nolan thought he could take a swim... Aunt T's pool was not heated at that time... the temp outside was 70 but the water was.....Ouch...Nolan went in up to his waist and decided...too too cold(it took his breath away)
Our Christmas Eve meal...and Garrett's first real"big" Whataburger(our OK and TX friends will know all about the best burgers least that's what dad and the boys think). Since we don't have a Whataburger, we have to have to make at least one visit on our trips.
"Makin' Moodsic"...Mia and Levi play a song together on the piano...Lunch in the city with friends... "Do you know how hard it is to get 12 kids to look at the camera all at the same time?"
Three pretty princesses....Mia likes to flirt with all the cute boys....
Christmas around our house seemed to sneak in like a mouse and roar out like a lion. I can hardly grasp the fact that it has been here and gone. I hope you enjoy the pictures of our various events and family Christmas celebrations this year. We are so blessed and have enjoyed sharing this season with family and friends. I pray that you all had a very blessed and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Birthday ,Nolan!
Nolan(with Mia) ...age 9

Nolan(at the Tx St.Fair)...age 5
When Nolan was an infant,people would stop me and comment on how I should enjoy every single moment with my baby. They would say,"just don't blink or he will be grown". Well,somewhere along the way I must have blinked. My eldest baby is 12 years old today! I look back over those years and just wonder where they have gone.
Nolan is growing into a fine young man. His kind,compassionate heart continues to make us proud. He has been an amazing big brother and has readily opened his arms and heart to all of his siblings. It still brings tears to my eyes as I remember his reactions to all of his siblings,most especially the day his first baby sister joined our family. The day Mia was brought to us(Nolan went to China with us), he was beside himself with excitement. He was able to immediately connect with her, and you could see the love he instantly felt written all over his face.He and his baby sister continue to have an extremely close bond! He is a natural born leader and teacher. He patiently instructs,guides and nurtures all 5 of his siblings. Nolan chose to take Jesus into his heart at an early age. Baptized at the age of 6,he has never looked back, and God has grown this young man's heart. He loves to learn all that God has in store for him, and sometimes his spiritual maturity surprises me. He continues to excel academically and loves to research and learn. He has developed a wonderful sense of humor(wonder who he got that from?), and he keeps us all laughing. He continues to grow in physical stature, as well. Nolan is topping out at 5'4.5" at the moment, and eats like a horse (he can eat 6 hot dogs at one sitting). His voice is now changing, and he has the beginnings of a mustache.This mommy has been having a very hard time with my baby growing. It has surprised me how emotional I am feeling over Nolan turning 12...why 12? why not 13?. I can only attribute those feelings to the fact that he has made so many social,physical,developmental,and emotional changes over the last 6 months that he doesn't look or act like a baby boy any more. Wow!...and I still have so many more momma moments to go through with our gang...I think I might just turn into one big emotional mess(haha)!
Happy Birthday Nolan! Momma and Daddy are very,very proud of you!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tea time

This morning we celebrated finishing school (until January) with a tea party. The boys even joined in and had fun. Mom baked chocolate chip and cinnamon muffins. We had steaming cups of Jasmine and Chinese breakfast tea. It was so warm and yummy. I kept making pots of tea, and the kids drank it until I quit making it . They consumed 2 dozen muffins amongst themselves. My two big boys are now eating so much... how in the world will I ever keep them all fed?! Nolan is growing so rapidly(He is 5ft4.5in) at this point that it sometimes feels as if he is growing 2 inches as he sleeps every night. I can hardly believe that he will be 12 yrs old the day after Christmas (I must have blinked...). I really do enjoy spending time with my sons, and I love the times we have to talk and share. God is definitely opening a "new" world for me. All my "experience" is in early childhood,so this pre-teen world is very different. The Pre-teen boys world is even more so. I am learning about motorcycles, fast cars, mechanics,inventions,and every scientific theory known to man(or so it seems). They are definitely keeping this momma on her toes, and I am loving it! Oh the excitement!...and, I get to be "momma" to four wonderful growing boys and two beautiful princesses! Thank You God for my amazing blessings!!


The kiddos were so excited to wake up yesterday morning to find a little snow on the ground. We got around 1 inch, but it was enough for the kids to have a fun time in. They wanted to be outside in it the minute they woke and knew it was there. It was a short lived time for some of them. I believe that it took longer to put on the winter gear than Mia and Nate stayed outside. All of them found things to entertain themselves while enjoying the snow.The boys found a plastic tray that was instantly turned into a sled. It provided quite a bit of entertainment for all of them. It was cute to see them work together and share. They attempted to make a snowman;however, the ground coverage just wasn't enough to make one. I think Mandy sat for quite a time trying to make the body...she was definitely determined. Mia loved making snow angels, and of course, the boys had to try out every scary,dangerous stunt possible. I warned them that this momma didn't want any broken bones to deal with over Christmas. Thankfully all were safely seated at the table for our late breakfast and traditional hot cocoa to warm body and soul.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

These Are Fun Times

Dominoes...Chicken Foot anyone?...maybe some Hot Cocoa?Our Christmas Cookie tradition...How many colors of icing can I fit on one cookie?Don't lick the icing Levi?...
Looks like triple trouble to me...
Levi Style... Is it Levi or Linus?

What do dominoes,hot chocolate, decorating cookies, friends, and dress up fun all have in common? Well normally nothing;however, in our house, they are all ways in which we are spending our holiday season. We have been concentrating this year on simplifying our lives(is this even possible with 6 kids?), and being content with the many blessings we have been given. So, in this typically busy season, we are taking time for the simple things. At the beginning of the week, we chose to spend a fun night at home just drinking hot cocoa and playing dominoes. We had a rousing hand of Chicken Foot going. The older kids paired up with the littles and even allowed mom and dad to join in. What a wonderful evening of just sharing time together, and mom so enjoyed getting to "play" with my kiddos.
One tradition, that we like to continue, is our Christmas cookie decorating. We usually invite a group of friends to come join in the fun, and then we share the cookies. This year we invited some friends from church. This family is another homeschooling family, and my kiddos enjoyed the companionship. I am not sure how many cookies the kids really made, but they had a blast being together. We did manage to get enough made and decorated to share between our family and theirs. I found it so interesting to observe all of the kids different interest and talents. Some really enjoyed the rolling and cutting. Some prefered the decorating, and all definitely liked the eating! With the kids engrossed in playing and creating, the moms found some time that we could visit and share experiences. What a blessing! We are still hoping to add to our Christmas baking this week, but back to simplicity...if it gets done,great...if not,Oh well!
Mandy had a sleepover birthday party Friday night so, when our baking party was done,she packed up her stuff and was off to a girls night of fun. She was so excited! She apparently became a "rock star". We were told that the girls stayed up late playing the video game, and Mandy was a very popular singer. It was great to see her tired but happy when she returned home Sat. morning. Saturday brought a visit with friends. We had a very simple(hot dogs) lunch. It gave us the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with them. We exchanged family gifts, and then played a fun game(given to our family)with all the kids. Mia was so excited to see her "bestest" friend. Those two girls share a wonderful story as they are from the same orphanage and have been together since they were a week old. It still takes my breath away to realize the plans God had/has for their little lives.
As we were getting ready for the friends to arrive, Levi had insisted that he had to dress "like daddy". We managed to pull together a similar wardrobe of jeans and shirt;however, we couldn't locate any of the old boots in smaller sizes. Levi and his dad stumbled upon some bigger boots later in the evening. Levi preceded to put on the boots, his winter cap and mittens, and of course, the ever present "blankie". I just had to share the cute photos of him in his "dress up" attire. He wore this outfit all night until we had to pry it off to get ready for bed. He was just too cute...he reminded me of "Linus" What do you think?
That about sums up another week in our house. This week, we are finishing our last few days of school before our Christmas break. The girls have an informal dance performance and party this Thursday night. We have a few activities planned with friends at the end of the week and over the weekend. We will also be packing and preparing to make the trip to Brad's family for Christmas this year. In spite of keeping things simple and slow-paced, we continue to have very full weeks. With a different perspective in mind, my holiday season this year has filled me with joy and peace. I feel less stressed, and I just am just enjoying each moment as it comes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas...

Our Trees are up and most of them are decorated. We have one large "family" tree that has been a Texas tree since Brad and I got married. Many of the ornaments come from places in Texas and all are "cowboy/western" related. From the very beginning we have topped this tree, not with a star, but with a red cowboy boot. The kids all fight over whose turn it is to put the boot on, and to be honest, I forget from year to year whose turn it really is(shhhh,don't tell the kiddos that).
I have a "favorite" small tree in my kitchen. It is a gingerbread/cookie cutter tree. One of our friends from our Lubbock,Tx days was an avid cookie cutter collector. I loved to look through her treasures each time I visited. As a Christmas gift one year, she started a collection for me. I treasure all of those cookie cutters(several of which are antique). So, I decorate a tree full of cooking/baking treasures and gingerbread men. The kids have a tree on which they place all there "heirloom" ornaments. Each of these ornaments came to them as gifts from Aunts, great Aunts, grandmas and friends. The kids also receive an ornament from St. Nick. Many years ago, my aunt started this tradition with her nieces and nephews. We have all tried to continue this with our own children through the years. On St. Nick's day(which I believe is Dec.6th) the children put out their shoe (wooden clogs in Holland). St Nick brings them a bag full of goodies and leaves it in(or near) the shoe. We have taught the kids about the man Nicholas who traveled throughout Germany and other areas to make sure that all children had special treats during the holiday time. Our goodies consist of one special ornament(that tells or means something special to each child) , an orange or apple, some nuts and candy. My kiddos love this tradition and now have a great start to their own ornament collections when they have homes of their own.
Most of the other decorations are up(not doing too many this year,as we will be traveling to family for the Christmas Holiday). Brad and the boys put lights up on the outside, and that will be the extent of our decorating for this year. We just want to savor the fun times, as it will all be over for another year much too soon.
We do not ever want to forget the most important reason to celebrate and that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Another tradition that the kids like to uphold is our birthday party for Jesus. We celebrate with a cake,praise Him with songs, and enjoy sharing His love. May you all enjoy the sights and sounds of this season, and may you all celebrate the true Reason!