Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Consistent Grace Update

Remember this post? About the orchids that were full of hope, looking to bloom? Well, here ya go:

Blooms
Ta da! God is so gracious.

Blooms
And there's more hope to come!

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:1-2

Garner State Park

That's where we went this past weekend, along with 5 other families. That yielded 18 kids to play together, which was soooo fun. We stayed in cabins there and the boys loved being able to ride their bikes along the road between the cabins. Charlie even learned to ride without training wheels! We made smores, played in the Frio River, and just had lots of time together as a family, and with our friends. We even played bocce ball, kickball, tball, soccer, etc (can you tell that 15/18 kids were boys?!). The only thing, in my mind, is that it was too short - I could've stayed for weeks!

Garner Trip
{in the cabin}

Garner Trip
{Chance loved the baby swing, ha!}

Garner Trip
{The big boy!}

Garner Trip
{lovin' the bubbles}

Garner Trip
{Charlie in the Frio - yes, it's cold!}

Mmm Cake!
{We even had cake for my birthday!}

On the way home, we stopped at the Old Spanish Trail Restaurant in Bandera, Tx...
Bandera
{The boys loved the saddle seats at the bar. (Yeah, I know, it's fuzzy.)}

Bandera
{The Littlest Cowboy}

There are lots more photos, but I'm never quite sure how others feel about me posting pictures of them on my blog... So suffice it to say, if you wanna see the whole story in pictures click here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter

Ok, so I'll just start with confessing that my only reason for catching up on blogging is because I'm procrastinating on my least favorite chore: packing.

There, now that that's out of the way... ;)

About Easter...here's my little rant about it. It's a Christian holiday, just like Christmas. And yes, the secular world has adapted it as it's own - big deal. But this year I felt like the true meaning of Easter was so buried under the commercialism that it truly gets missed - way more than Christmas. Case in point: at Christmas you're bound to find some nativity scenes in stores. At Easter - there is no sign of a cross or empty tomb or anything halfway religious. Unless you go to Christian stores, obviously. And now that the boys are getting older, we had to have 6 dozen plastic eggs for the various Easter Egg hunts we attended (and I'm sure it'll be more next year, when Chandler participates). Easter was almost as stressful as Christmas in getting things done. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE the parties. I just don't love prepping for them. But most of all, I hope my kids don't miss the true meaning...

Alright, I'm done. Now on to the best part: pictures!!

First of all, I did dye eggs with the boys, which I do every year and then wonder why I try. And sure enough, the dye got spilled again this year. I just bleached it out of the tile grout today, in fact. And Charlie wore it on his legs for a few days, poor guy.

Dyed Easter Legs

Then we had Charlie's Pre-K class over for an Easter party in the backyard. The weather was incredible, and I was once again reminded how blessed we are to have the property that we do.

Pre-K Easter Party
I also got to enjoy being around girls. Oh, they are just so different from little boys. Like, in this pic above - they actually sit in the chairs. My guys pretty much just hurl the chairs around the yard or try to stand on them.

Pre-K Easter Party
My friend Jenny loaned me her bounce house - that's always a hit with the kids. Especially the boys, ha!

Pre-K Easter Party
I was so impressed with this family (I won't name them, in case they mind...). They just had their fourth child (and 1st boy) a week before the party. Yet, they loaded up all 4 small children and came to the party. I was so very impressed!!!

Pre-K Easter Party
The kids had a picnic lunch, then one of the moms taught them about the Easter story using Resurrection eggs - I recommend that method to anyone with kids 5+. It was way cool.

That same day we attended a Passover Seder demonstration at church, led by a guy from Jews For Jesus. It was incredible. I highly recommend getting his dvd of the demonstration. It just made me in awe of how God uses symbolism to show us His plan. Truly inspiring!

Then, Saturday we attended a fun Easter Egg hunt at a friend's house. Sorry, no pictures, I spent the time chasing Chandler all over the yard, ha!

Saturday night we attended the Easter service. You can see it here, just click on Chapter 27/ The Resurrection, if you're interested.

Sunday, we attended a family party, and did yet another wonderful Easter Egg hunt. This was the first hunt that Chandler decided to participate in. This time, I got pictures! :)

First egg hunt.
The first egg he ever truly found.

Villareal Easter Party 09
The boys did so well, and got so many eggs!

Villareal Easter Party 09

Villareal Easter Party 09
Then the Inspector put his skills to good use, opening and "inspecting" all of the loot!

Escaping with the loot
He even dragged that big basket around with him for awhile. Chance was such a sport, and shared with him so well.

Also, about Chandler - back when we dyed actual hard-boiled eggs - I kept finding that he'd manage to get one off of the dining room table (anytime the boys would pull some out of their baskets), then he'd go hide in the bathroom and pick it to pieces, I guess hoping to find some candy! He even did it again today, this time hiding on the stairs! Little sneaker!!

Villareal Easter Party 09
He also enjoyed some Big Daddy time. It's crazy to think that last year he was so tiny, we could've hid him among the eggs!

Big Boy / Daddy Luv
Chandler wasn't the only one getting some family love. ;) (Charlie with Chuck)

Easter
Charlie wasn't the only one, either... Chance with Nana.

easter family
Then my sister took a family photo for us! Thanks Annie!

So there it is, our run down of Easter. What'd you do for Easter?

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Windy City

Chicago

This past weekend we're went to Chicago, The Windy City. Did you know that it's not called that because it's....well...windy? In fact, it wasn't very windy at all. The reasons are a bit unclear as to the nickname, but we had a whirlwind of an adventure there anyway!

From the air

We flew from Austin at noon (I'll skip over the difficulties of packing 5 people for a 4 day trip, then driving 3 lil boys to Austin) and arrived in Chicago 2 hours later, half an hour ahead of schedule (way to go American Airlines!).

We shuttle-bused to our modern style hotel (also the location of Chuck's conference...score!), checked in, then walked half a mile to eat at Giordano's. Authentic Chicago stuffed pizza = Heavenly! And VERY filling.

Chicago

Then we walk over to the "El" train (for "elevated" - it's kinda like a subway, taking us from the suburbs into downtown), got our passes and hopped on for a 45 minute ride to the Chicago skyline.

Chicago

We checked out Millenium Park, had fun with "The Bean," then walked all over town.

Chicago

Chicago

Chicago

We went up 94 stories in the world's fastest elevator in the John Hancock tower, and hung out around sunset checking out the skyline.

My view

Chicago

Then it was hot chocolate at the Ghiridelli Shop, and a ride on horse-drawn carriage. And the people we're met so far have been so friendly...I thought all the friendly people only lived in Texas?! ;)

Chicago

Then we grabbed some snacks (still full from that stuffed pizza!) and took the El back to the hotel for the night. We talked about how cool it was to ride on an airplane, a bus, a train/subway, and a horse drawn carriage, all in one day. What.A.Dream of a day!

Self Portraits :)

Friday, Chuck attended his conference, and I spent the day blissfully alone catching up on Bible study. Other than an overpriced burger in the hotel, not very eventful. We did walk back to that stuffed pizza place to get our fill again for dinner.

Chicago

Saturday, I finally got up the nerve to ride the El by myself. Chuck again attended his conference. It took nearly 2 hours aboard the El (along with a mistake that took me on the loop around downtown - a mistake I didn't regret!) to get over to Oak Park, but it was worth it. I toured the home and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect.

Chicago

I could write a LONG post about that, but suffice it to say, it was VERY cool. Then I toured the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway, the writer, along with the museum.

Chicago

Then I took the El back to downtown, shopped for some rainy cold weather accessories, checked out the Lego store, and grabbed us some dinner at a deli.

The Lego Store in Chicago

The Lego Store in Chicago

The Lego Store in Chicago

Here's a little concert that was going on down in the subway "El" station. I saw musicians playing everywhere on the streets and subways. So cool.



Back at the hotel, we ate and hung out with people Chuck had met at the conference, even played Catan, our favorite board game.

Scenic

Sunday, I awoke to snow outside. I nearly froze walking the half mile to McD's for breakfast, but it was fun! I watched some kids snowball fight and make a snowman - made me miss the boys.


Chicago

But I studied some more while Chuck finished up the conference, then we headed to the airport for a messed up flight on United. Ended up an hour late to Austin, but it was so nice to be reunited with our boys!

Anyways, it was a great trip, and I highly recommend Chicago as a vacation spot. I have a feeling I just scratched the surface, and would love to go back!

{And a BIG THANK YOU to Nana, Big Daddy, and Aunt Vickie for watching the boys for 4 days!}