Saturday, March 30, 2013

Enchanted Springs Ranch

We’ve been a couple of times before, but both of those were in the heat of summer. So when the school planned a winter trip to the Ranch, I was excited. The weather turned out to be perfect, and we had the place all to ourselves. Chuck came along, and we were able to split up and go the routes of the different grades.  It was a great day!

This is one of the two wagons, loaded up with the parents, for the ride through the fields.

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You gotta love this kids and his poses…

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They both chose their outfits to look like cowboys. Charlie really got into it, and made use of some overalls I’d  bought him for a play in 2nd grade! I was amazed it still fit!

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Here is the group from the school.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Christmas

 

For Christmas this year, we spent a week in a RV at the RV park with Chuck’s parents, and 2 sisters with their families. The kids had the run of the place, and it was so fun. 

 

We were anxious to get our hands on this precious two-week-old. Meet Liza, our newest niece (in December, that is).DSC_0494

Her beautiful mama, who literally made it through 9 months of pregnancy without wearing maternity pants.

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I relished all of the sunsets there on the lake.

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We had a birthday party for my neice Kaylie, and her mama made this amazing cake.

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Some of the many cousins running around, making memories.

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The whole gang.

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Ruby, the oldest niece, with the youngest….

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Ethan, enjoying his lego train. I love that boys have so many cousins to play with, and they are all into the same toys!

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Christmas Eve, we went back out to Aunt Sue’s, exchanged gifts and hugs with the family there. Christmas morning, we gave the kids their gifts, and they all played together for the morning. Christmas dinner was held at Chuck’s Aunt’s house.

I saw an idea somewhere (probably pinterest) and decided I wanted to try it – I made everyone shirts showing their order, so Chuck’s parents have a photo of their 14 grandkids.That’s 10 boys and 4 girls.  I had hoped to get a good outdoor photo, but a cold front blew in that day and it was extremely cold. So, the stairs had to do.

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Chuck and his sisters, Mitsi, Tammy and Melanie.

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Back at the RV park, the geeks got out their ipads and had an audience. Chuck used the fattify app on the willing volunteers and hilarity ensued.

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I know I’m kinda skimming this, but Chance’s birthday is so close after Christmas that we had another party with all the cousins, and Chance LOVED his new bike. I loved that we had the RV park for him to ride it in!  He rode that thing all day, balloon trailing, with a big smile on his face!

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Holiday Season

I’m not sure I could call it just Christmas, because we celebrate it all month long. And while I get overwhelmed with the busyness, the truth is, I love Christmas.  I love talking with the kids about Jesus. I love seeing their imaginations as they dream of life on the North Pole. I love the attitudes of caring. 

Here are the things we did in December leading up to the actual Christmas holiday

The Joneses and Thiers attended the Story concert.  This was the boys’ first official concert and it was amazing. If you can see the videos alone, it’s worth it. It takes you through the big stories of the Bible in Chronological order. Charlie said when it was over, “All that stuff you’ve been teaching me, and I’ve been learning in Sunday school all makes sense now. I get why all that had to happen.”  (WIN!!)

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For the first time, Chuck got down the LGB trains from when he was a kid, and let the kids help him set it up around the tree. It was fun to finally reach this milestone. I remember seeing it around his parents’ tree before we were married.

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Sometimes Flat Stanley and Flat Charlie rode on it, as well.

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Chandler is the only who still believes in Santa. I had always told the kids that if they wanted to know if Santa was real, I would never lie to them. Chance officially asked me a couple of months before Christmas.  Once they know, they are allowed to help set up his gifts on Christmas Eve.  So I am relishing having one who still has the imagination and wonder…

Thankfully, Chandler’s preschool class met with Santa, so Chandler was able to meet him this year.

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One night, Granny and our crew headed out to meet Nana and Big Daddy at the Bluebonnet Café in Marble Falls, and then stood in line for 2 hours to get into the Burnet Bethlehem. Despite the long wait, it was still totally worth it.

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I brought our shepherd costumes, and the kids enjoyed acting like they were in the first century A.D. But sometimes people thought we were a part of the show and would ask us questions. Oops!

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This is Marble Falls, lit up at night (from across the lake)…You might want to click on it to see the full view. It is beautiful.

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Of course, there’s the yearly tradition of making gingerbread houses.

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And Chandler’s Christmas party at preschool.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thanksgiving

 

My dad has 9 siblings. That alone makes for a big gathering. But when you add 20+ grandkids (that’s my generation), and spouses, and their children…It’s a big party!  This is what the island looked like at my Aunt Sue’s house. Do you like our matching 3 crock pots? I think we average between 80-100 people at our gatherings. And I love it!

This year, Randi and Dan came up to visit, and of course Mom was here, so Aunt Sue invited us all.

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By the way, if you ever use Indian warpaint tattoos – they take FOREVER to wash off.

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The month before, this guy (Big Daddy) found out he had a cancerous tumor on his kidney.  It was a reminder to us all to not take our time together for granted.

Big Daddy with Mammy

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And with his wife, Nana, of 20+ years.

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Charlie loves going to Aunt Sue’s because he gets to shoot his bb gun. All the boys do. It’s fun…and kinda scary at the same time.

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That evening, because Granny loves to cook, we had our own Thanksgiving Feast. It was delicious!

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Halloween

 

The conversations for months went like this: “I want to be a Skylander for Halloween!” “No, I want to be Captain America, again!” “No, we should all be…”

Forgive me, but we need something with more substance. We’ve done superheroes. The kids had fought over who could be which Skylander.  We needed something more…interesting. Then Charlie came up with this: Paul Revere, George Washington, and Napoleon.  He knew the stories of Paul Revere and George Washington. And he knew that Napoleon was short, so that’s what Chandler should be.  He managed to persuade his brothers into it, and even convinced Chance to wear the wig.  He wrote out the story of Paul Revere on a notecard, and would tell anyone who was willing to listen.

This boy has found a love for history. And I couldn’t be happier…

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For Halloween this year, we sat our with our friends, the Tibbs, and enjoying a night of passing out candy and walking around Two Creeks. It was a blast. The weather was perfect, and the company was wonderful!

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Big Daddy’s Big Surgery

{I originally had this scheduled to post in April, in chronological order, but given this most recent news about my Aunt Vickie, I'm posting it now. Please pray that she is truly cancer free and able to go home!!}

In January, the day finally came for Dad to have the surgeons remove his tumor. They had hoped to leave at least part of his kidney, but they wouldn’t know until they went in (laproscopically) what would happen.  Thankfully, they were able to leave part of it, and they removed not one, but two cancerous tumors!  Dad said if he had to have cancer, this was one of the best forms to have because it can be so easily corrected when caught before it’s metastasized. And that was the case! What a relief!
Here was Big Daddy’s cheerleading squad, my sister Anna, Cousin Marie, and Nana.
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Anna snapped this photo before Dad went into surgery.
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{I love my Big Daddy!}
However, there’s another story to be told. Big Daddy and Nana have had a roommate in their home for the past several years: Aunt Vickie, Nana’s sister. She loves the Lord and is a joy to know!  She had discovered that she had some form of leukemia shortly before the day Big Daddy was to have his surgery. She sat up with us in the waiting room all day, waiting to hear how Big Daddy had made it through.  But before it was over, Nana convinced Vickie to check into the ER because she was having severe abdominal pain.  Turns out, she had gall stones, but they couldn’t treat it until they knew more about her cancer. This ended up being a huge blessing, as it sped up the process. Later it was discovered that she has an aggressive form of leukemia and every day counts!!  She was admitted that day, and as I’m writing this 2 months later, she still has not been able to leave the hospital. She has been through two rounds of chemo so far, and had her gall bladder removed. They’re about to start an even harder treatment. So, please say a prayer for Vickie, would ya? She sure deserves all of the prayer we can give for her!
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More fall randomness


So the truth is, once I’m 6 or more months out, I really kind of forget the stories that go with the photos. I’ve always had a weak memory.  But as I survey my photos, here are the things I want to remember.

Our neighbors down the street have a miniature pony that they wanted to train for riding. Only problem was, they needed someone light enough to ride him that was old enough to stay on. Chandler (mostly) fit that bill, so every Thursday Chandler got a riding lesson.  He loved hanging out with Peanut, especially since horses have been his favorite animal (along with puppy dogs), since he was little(r). 
I relished the time with my sweet neighbors, Marianna, and her kiddos, whom homeschool full time.
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This is our friend Loralai.  She was in Chance’s preschool classes when he was 3 and 4.  But now she’s a big first-grader.  She and her brothers came over to play one afternoon and something magical happened.  She had 5 boys to play with and what does she do? Takes command and has them all watch “My Little Pony” with her. And suddenly I had a room full of boys totally sucked in. She left in her wake one child who is still completely hooked on that show: Chandler.  And even Charlie will tell me, “I don’t get it, it’s a girl show, but I kinda want to watch it.” Way to go, Loralai.  What a unique leader and precious girl you are!
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Also last fall, we went up to the lake to see the family, and as we were searching the shoreline, we found a wild-growing watermelon!  And later, we actually ate it! It was delicious. Weird and random, I know, but the kids were totally impressed!
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Searching the shoreline has become our favorite past time at the lake because it’s so low that it’s nearly back down the size it once was when it was “just" the Colorado River, before a series of dams were built, making it a chain of lakes. We find different rocks that we aren’t accustomed to seeing, and search for arrow heads.  The place where Grandma and the boys are standing should be 50+ feet below the surface of the lake. Lake Travis is the only lake on the chain that isn’t constant level, meaning that if there’s a drought, it has to keep giving out water to the lakes below.  And if there’s a flood, it has to hold that water so as to prevent the other lakes from rising.  It makes it a very clean lake, but it also makes enjoying it very unpredictable. At this point, it’s been very low for 3-4 years now.  Historically low, really.
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And in the fall, this was a familiar sight: Charlie shooting his bb gun.PB216291

The colors of fall are absolutely gorgeous in our backyard. I am so thankful for our cluster of Mexican Red Oaks.PB216294
And on this random day, Chance actually posed for me. Check out the new teeth – no more gap up top.
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