Monday, September 28, 2009

Time in Tennessee

This past summer we spent a few days at Pap & Grandma Linda's house in TN, and packed in as much as possible in those few days. You girls LOVED everything . . . swimming, boating, feeding fish, tubing, eating s'mores, and spending time with Pap & Grandma Linda. Pap let you girls drive the boat - even Stella - Pap has always been a brave man. This is the second summer in a row we have spent some family time with them, and I am hoping it continues - as long as we don't destroy their house! Maybe next summer we will try skiing. Fun stuff!

Summer Full of Fun

Girls this summer - of 09' - we went on lots of trips. Or as Abi called them 'field trips'. Our first trip was to Branson, Missouri for a family reunion on Grammy's side of the family. Over 10 years ago Grammy's family began getting together every other summer for almost a week, and it has been a great time to see family we do not get to see often.
We did lots of fun things: go-carting, Butterfly World, Dixie Stampede Show, lots of pool time, family meals, Silver Dollar City, catching lightening bugs, fed trout, balloon fights, and more. The most important was just being together. It is a desire of mine that our family will be will always want to get together also. I cannot imagine not spending time with you girls - all of you girls - in years to come.
This was the first reunion without PapPap, Grammy's dad. That was difficult at times, because PapPap LOVED you girls & your cousins; and he loved having fun with the family. There were many moments we thought of Pap, knowing he would have loved our time together. PapPap is with Jesus, and we will see him again. This encourages me to keep talking with other family who have not experienced how amazing God is, and the gift of His son, Jesus. Girls, may we always - in love - keep sharing Jesus with family & praying for them. How wonderful to have the rest of eternity as one big family reunion! Til then, here are some great pics of our time together.

Trip #2 was to PA. Papi was on the mission trip to the Dominican Republic so we picked up Grammy at Tio's house & drove the 13hour trip to PA. You girls were excellent in the car. Grammy and I are not known for remembering the camera, so . . . there are no pics of our time. I know, I know. Maybe this will jog your memory:
- visiting Round Hill Farm to feed the ducks, pet horses, watch a cow get milked & pet the baby cow (or rather be licked by the baby cow), see chickens, pigs & lots of mice.
- went to Kennywood Amusement park. Abi, Jillian and I went on lots of bigger rides, and Grammy & Aunt Karen watched Stella, Chloe & Claire in Kiddyland. Everyone had a great time, and Karen let Abi go in the 'pool', which was the fountain that had big signs saying, 'No Wading or Swimming.' Classic.
- Carnegie Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaurs and lot of animals, and other fun things. Abi, Jillian and Stella LOVED it all.
- Uncle Terry and Stacy took us on their boat & you girls went swimming!
- We saw Nanny, and you girls got to sing to her, give her pictures, eat her snacks, give her lots of kisses, and you guys brought life to all of the other patients.
We stayed with aunt Karen & uncle Terry and you girls had fun playing with their dogs, touching as many electronic & breakable things you could get your hands on, playing with the neighbors, and being loved on!

Monday, August 10, 2009

100th Post - 100 Pieces of Advice from the Women

Girls, this is my 100th entry. I wanted to do something special so I asked all of the women in the family - both mine & Papi's to send some advice your way. Anything they thought would help you in life. There is a wide array of things in this list. Enjoy my daughters, and know that you are surrounded by some amazing women who love you, pray for you, and will be your heros. You girls walk with a legacy, and will continue a legacy. My prayer is that you will continue a legacy of loving God & hanging on for the adventure He has for you! It will be AWESOME!

1. Your family will always love you, help you, & care for you.
2. Even though your family will have a HUGE influence on you - you are your own person & a new creation in Christ.
3. There is no such thing as too many bubbles in the bath (you can always have a sister to help shovel the excess bubbles into the toilet).
4. Learn to have grace & mercy - you will need it someday.
5. Above all - people first, stuff & things to do last.
6. People cannot read your mind so - 1. ask 2. be specific 3. give an example if you need to.
7. Laughing at others is easy - laughing at yourself can be hard but SO necessary.
8. Make getting together with family a priority - they will become a source of strength, inspiration, fun, laughter, memories & legacy.
9. One of the most valuable things in life is time, because you only get to experience each moment once - whatever you do in life don't waste time.
10. Smile often
11. Love all - hate less
12. Dream more while you are awake.
13. Have fun!
14. Do not shave anything on - or rather off your face.
15. Recycling is NOT a lot of work but worth a LOT.
16. The 10 second rule really is valid unless what was dropped is sticky.
17. Children eating sand at the beach is unavoidable.
18. Healthy confrontation is less emotionally draining than gossip.
19. Diets are over-rated.
20. Healthy living is a good habit to keep.
21. Never say Never.
22. Read at least 1 book a year.
23. Learn to take risks - not obnoxious, stupid, harmful, etc. risks - but ones that will keep you dependent on God.
24. The U. S. standard of living is NOT the norm throughout the world - be grateful for the blessings you have.
25. You were born exactly at this time, place & period for a reason/purpose.
26. Read through the entire Bible - it can change your life.
27. If you can, double whatever you are making/cooking & either freeze it for a later use or give it to someone as a way to bless them.
28. Try to live in a way where projects are the interruptions, NOT people.
29. Know if you are a list person, and if you are . . . make lists.
30. Make memories with people you love. It is better than a gift & lasts longer.
31. Be good to your sisters, they will always be your best friends.
32. Learn to journal. You will teach yourself a lot.
33. Notice what you enjoy doing & what you are good at. That is how God gifted you - use it.
34. Give everyone a lot of love.
35. Gather people you love around you whenever you can.
36. Always give more than what you get.
37. Always look for a positive in every situation.
38. The best things in life are not things at all.
39. Always have a good pair of tweezers.
40. When you find you are worrying over something, ask yourself this question, "Do I have any control over this situation?" If the answer is no, let it go!
41. In life there will be problems to face & conquer. Don't be afraid to tackle them.
42. Facing life's problems will help build your confidence.
43. Save your energy for all the wonderful things life has to offer.
44. It's ok to eat some of the cookie dough, cake batter, brownie batter, etc. - especially with family/friends. It can be the best part.
45. If you think of something you need to do - and you can - do it immediately.
46. Put things back where they belong.
47. Flush
48. Hold hands and stay together, even if you're 80 . . . hold hands.
49. Also say I love you before bedtime. It will be the last thing their mind.
50. Wash your hands.
51. Sing as often as you can, and as loud as you can.
52. There is a BIG difference between guilt that leads to conviction, and guilt that is an end in itself. Guilt changed into conviction facilitates change and healing. Guilt only festers the soul.
53. Start & End your day with music that helps you praise God.
54. If a dish is hard to clean - soak it overnight.
55. Composting is not a lot of work & produces great dirt!
56. Remember to leave a note/candy/goodie for the mailman, garbage man, and bus drivers. They work hard.
57. Check out the clearance aisle/rack for birthday/Christmas/extra gifts to have on hand.
58. Create family traditions - don't force them, but be aware of natural ones & help establish them.
59. Don't skimp on birthday gifts - giving parties are a lot of work.
60. Yard Sales are a great place to find gifts, and things for you.
61. Get an education. high school, college, vocational, masters, on-line - whatever - it is a great accomplishment.
62. Go on mission trips - in and out of the country.
63. If you are not a morning person, get it done the night before.
64. It's worth spending more on a good vacuum cleaner - especially if you have lots of kids.
65. Don't leave plates on the table after you eat.
66. If it's too hard to scrub a pot - soak it overnight.
67. Love God over everything else.
68. Say your prayers everyday.
69. Trust your parents.
70. A good responsibility is to keep your room clean.
71. Hang up your towel after you take a bath.
72. Dental work is expensive and can be painful, so it is worth brushing & flossing your teeth.
73. If you have to do something - better to do it right the first time.
74. Even if you don't think you can - try it.
75. It's ok to make plans as long as you know that God's plan is the best & should always prevail, and is usually NOT your plan.
76. Try to sew - you may like it.
77. Always think of yourself as a student - b/c in life you are.
78. It's never too late to learn a language.
79. It's never too late to move to another country to serve God.
80. You may not always enjoy, appreciate or like your family, but they will always be there for you.
81. Always try to give people a second chance.
82. NEVER stay in an abusive relationship. You are way too precious for that.
83. It's ok to forgive people, and realize you should not be in an active relationship with them.
84. Gossip is bad, bad, bad.
85. Do things with kids like dancing, coloring, sliding, balloon fights - you'll remember how much fun they are.
86. No one can replace you - you are unique and valued.
87. Swearing is overrated.
88. Try to keep a minimum level (at least) of exercise in your life - you'll feel better (especially when you justify eating that brownie).
89. Say no to drugs. It is more than possible, and something to be proud of.
90. Volunteer.
91. Never buy something that is uncomfortable to wear - you may wear it once, but won't feel great. Fashion and function do coexist.
92. If you can travel - do it. The world is an amazing place. God is so creative.
93. Go camping at least once - you may love it.
94. It's ok to like bugs & reptiles.
95. Tears are not a weak or shameful thing, God keeps track of them all.
96. Save things family members made for you.
97. Be generous to people - we all benefit from generosity (of spirit, time, things, money, etc).
98. Marriage is not being happy all the time, it is working at love, honoring commitment, maintaining a friendship, partnering with someone to serve God - marriage is so much more than a ceremony.
99. Don't spend too much time on the computer.
100. Love the Lord your God, with all your mind, heart, body & soul. Keep an eternal perspective.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Memorial Day at the Beach

We were invited - by an extremely brave family - to join them at their condo on St. Simon's Island over Memorial Day Weekend. Yes, it was Alexa and her family. I don't know if anyone else would have invited us or if I would have been comfortable enough invading anyone else's place. Alexa, I think, knew what she was getting into. Her parents on the other hand . . . are troopers. Walking into an unknown environment that is NOT yours can be a bit challenging with small children. Luckily I remembered the toy bag - oh wait - the toy bag & Stella's pacifier were the 2 things I forgot. Yikes, I'm not winning the mom of the year award for that one. I quickly purchased a new pacifier for Stella (I figured this was NOT the weekend to wean her from her pacifier). As for toys, they are highly overrated . . . right?

Good thing we were at the beach 80% of the time. The girls had an absolute blast. They played in the sand, swam in the ocean, climbed the rocks, built sandcastles, and Abigail found every type of sea creature imaginable. I'm not kidding. Abi found: sand crabs, hermit crabs, live conch in it's shell, live sand dollar, live star fish, and I think I'm forgetting something. It was amazing. Stella spotted the sand crabs first, and without hesitation chased it down, picked it up, and played with it for a while.
Abigail & Jillian body surfed. Stella spent hours in the water floating in an inflatable ring. Chloe & Claire enjoyed playing in the sand & a make shift pond by the rocks. Stella ate enough sand to poop out a sandcastle. Abi, Jillian, Stella and I took a walk on the pier & saw a bunch of fisherman. We even saw one catch a baby hammerhead shark. He let us touch it before he released it back in the water. That was cool! Overall it was a GREAT trip.

OK, a few glitches. Claire took off her diaper during nap time & pooped on the bed. Praise God she was on the blow up bed I brought & pooped on a towel. Still slightly embarrassing. Stella not less than 20 minutes later took off her pamper & peed on a chair. Lovely. Nothing like taking you girls somewhere to have you pee & poop on someone else's furniture. (Pap & Grandma Linda - if you are reading this I am sure this will NOT happen at your place in TN.) Now onto dinner time. We rarely go out to dinner . . . for obvious reasons. So the fact that we ate out 3 consecutive nights - I guess we did fairly well. There were some good looks, a few screams, lots of crackers, some annoyed looks, too much sprite, the equivalent of a meal on the floor, and 3 high chairs.

I have to say that watching you girls explore everything, swim no matter what the water felt like, and take advantage of every experience - I felt a bit wimpy. I remember being more focused on swimming than the temperature of the water. More focused on playing than how much sand was getting into my suit. More focused on exploring new surroundings and creatures than relaxing. I was feeling a bit old & whiny. Agh, the water is cold. Hmph, it's drizzling. Ugh, there's sand on my sandwich. Eek, will that crab pinch me? Get a grip old woman! Thank you girls for keeping me young. Keeping me on my toes. Keeping me exploring & experiencing. I never want to get to the point where it is too much work, effort, dirt, clean up, etc. that I don't enjoy life. God is so amazingly creative with His creatures and creation. I pray that I will enjoy it to my last breath - when I'll truly see the glory of His creation in heaven. I pray that you girls continue to enjoy His creations as well. Thanks for keeping me young!

I have to share how amazing Alexa & Katie Rose were this weekend. Having a 7, 5, 3, & two 2 year olds is a LOT of work. Especially at the beach when you all go in different directions. Alexa actually helped me before we even got to the beach. You see, packing for everyone is not something I really enjoy - so Alexa was more than happy to pack up clothes for all you girls. You know when Alexa has packed because Chloe & Claire are always matching. Plus, Stella allows Alexa to do her hair. So all you girls look cute & very put together. Maybe I should ask her to pack my stuff! Anyway, it was a complete joy having these two amazing girls there to help. I really would NOT have done this with just Papi and I. Alexa has been a complete gift from God for our family. She loves you girls, and is so natural with you = it means the world to me. I truly believe, and have probably said before, she has helped me keep my sanity quite a few times. She is more than capable with you girls - all of you girls. Her friend, Katie Rose, was an incredible help as well. All of you girls enjoyed playing with them. Thank you Alexa & Katie Rose & to Susan & Baron for you kindness, patience & generosity with our family. We love you!