I Will Trust in You

May 16, 2016 at 2:34 pm (Faith, Personal, Uncategorized)

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As my baby K hits the 10-and-a-half month mark, I am finally getting enough sleep again to try to write coherently:).  A little insight into my psyche – seasons of my life are defined by the songs that capture exactly what I’m going through at that moment.  I suspect many music-lovers share that quality with me.  The past 10 months (and probably even farther back than that) have been all about trusting God’s plan for me and surrendering self.  One of the first seminary classes I took included a graphic of a spiritual growth cycle, one of the stages of which is hitting a spiritual wall.  When I read about it at the time, I thought I had already crossed the wall.  It’s a place where you are broken and begin losing the ability to trust the Lord.  You struggle with the challenges before you and often feel like your prayers are going unanswered.  But you have nowhere to look but up.  The books and the instructor said you could hit the wall many times in your life – it’s a continual cycle.  I didn’t understand it at the time.  I thought I had experienced ultimate brokenness and could never lose that faith and the comfort of knowing God will always answer.  But what I’m learning now is that God is never done breaking and refining us, and the wall is part of that process.

So I’ll start with a song that is speaking to me so much right now, Lauren Daigle’s “Trust in You”.  The song says: “When You don’t move the mountains, I’m needing You to move.  When You don’t part the waters, I wish I could walk through.  When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You.  I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You.”  I’m used to over-functioning.  I’m used to sleeping far less than I should.  It’s far from ideal, but it’s become my norm.  The past 10 months, though, it’s been more than just not getting enough sleep.  I actually feel like I’ve been more intermittently power napping at night than sleeping.  And it’s incredible how a lack of sleep creates a downward spiral in life.  I was at the point where I could barely function at work; I was having to regularly put myself in time out (sitting in the bathroom playing Solitaire just to do something mindless for a few minutes – LOL) because I was getting so irritable and short-tempered; the stress was feeling overwhelming; and my thoughts were consumed only with how desperately I wanted to feel at least semi-rested again.  I found myself crying out to God every night, please let baby K sleep.  Please let him soothe himself back to sleep.  But baby K kept waking up.  Four, five, six times in a 7-hour period.  And everything else seemed to be getting harder.  My grad school was cutting me no slack; my job was marching on at a breakneck pace; there was homeschooling, parenting, kids’ activities, housework that all just kept on coming; that alarm just kept going off (often 10 minutes after I had just laid back down from getting up with baby K again) – all while enduring the added fatigue of the 1st trimester.  None of the mountains were moving.  The water wasn’t parting, and I was drowning fast.  My hope was dwindling.  I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, like I would never sleep again, and like my prayers were falling on deaf ears.  I hit the wall again.  It’s times like these that remind us we are not in control.  I had become too confident in my own strength.  I had had too many days where I felt like superwoman, riding the wave of keeping all those balls I was juggling up in the air, no matter how precariously.  I had started forgetting Who was actually keeping those balls in the air.

I’ve always loved Matthew West’s song, “Strong Enough”.  But I heard something in it differently during this season.  The lyrics go: “Well maybe, maybe that’s the point.  To reach the point of giving up.  Cause when I’m finally, finally at rock bottom, well that’s when I start looking up, and reaching out.”  The truth is, we have to hit rock bottom repeatedly in our lives.  We actually pray for that.  We pray for God to keep growing us.  We pray to be dependent on Him.  They call it growing pains for a reason!  There are times in our lives when we have to be reminded that God is in control.  And we have to trust in Him to give us strength.  We’re not always meant to walk through parted waters.  Sometimes, we have to cross through the deepest parts of the ocean to get where God wants us to go.  He’s not raising entitled little brats, He’s raising a family of spiritual warriors, preparing us to fight a spiritual battle we can’t even begin to fully comprehend.  If we want to follow Him, we HAVE to look up and fix our eyes on Jesus or we WILL drown.  It’s times like this when I find comfort in the words of Casting Crowns’ “Just Be Held”: “Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.”  And Danny Gokey’s “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again”: “In this moment, heaven’s working everything for your good.”  (I told you music defines my moments in life!)  God’s way is always better.  It may not seem like that at the time, but it is.  It’s difficult to trust when the waters get rough.  We just want to get back to shore and take a breather.  But God wants to get us through the storm – not in our timing or in our way, but in His perfect timing and His perfect way.  We just have to keep doggy paddling and praying.

I have gotten some good nights’ rest over the past week.  I’m starting to feel semi-human again.  But this stormy season of life isn’t over for me yet.  Life is fast and furious right now, and nothing is coming easy (not even finding a suitable day to have a birthday party for my oldest son!).  But I’m thankful for the wisdom of Scripture that tells us this is how life will be and gives us the encouragement to endure.  I’m thankful for prayerful family and friends who remind me God never makes us walk the bumpy roads alone.  I’m thankful for a God who cares enough to not give up on me, to work on me and use me for His glory.  And with that, I will leave you with my favorite song right now, Ryan Stevenson’s “In the Eye of the Storm”:

“When my hopes and dreams are far from me, and I’m running out of faith
I see the future I pictured slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache are pouring down my face
I find my peace in Jesus’ name

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm

If you are going through a storm right now, just remember that God may not always move the mountains or part the waters, but He always hears, He always answers, and He always protects.  He’s in control, and His ways are always higher.  The wall is just an obstacle.  He can and will get us over every wall we face in life, if we trust in Him.

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Flower Blooms and Rainy Days

May 12, 2016 at 3:40 pm (Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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And now commencing a bit of a photo dump!  I love, love. love flower blooms on rainy days, so I had to capture a few shots of the flowers in our front garden…

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Baby Announcement Photo Shoot

May 12, 2016 at 2:55 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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 A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there!  We finally get to announce that our newest little addition, due in October, is going to be a boy.  My daughter is already plotting her extended visits with my sister and niece!  But finding out the gender was a great way to kick off Mother’s Day weekend.  Hubby went all out on the sentimental side of Mother’s Day, too.  He helped the older kids make really cute cards and even made a garden stone with baby K’s handprint and part of Proverbs 31 imprinted on it.  Mother’s Day morning was hectic, but we went up to a colonial farm near my parents’ house in the afternoon, which was wonderful.  The kids got a history lesson, and we ladies got a nice afternoon tea outside on a gorgeous day.  It’s been raining like crazy these past couple of weeks, so the sunny day was a great break from the waterlogged start to May.  Monday after work I took a few minutes of dry time to get in the gender announcement photo shoot…and some extra photos….:)

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A little outtake while getting the focus ready.  The balloons were a big hit, and the kids had fun with the shoot!  Baby K was particularly enamored with his balloon…though his first one got away and the second one was less than floaty…

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Made for some cute pics, anyway!

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Nothin’ this boy won’t try to eat…

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And baby girl having fun…

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Morris got in on the fun, too…

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My oldest son had his piano recital two weekends ago, and I unfortunately dropped the ball in getting some good photos.  But here are a couple of him with his piano teacher and the maestro after his performance….

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And other than that, I just have some miscellaneous picnic and baby K shots…

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Have a blessed weekend!

 

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Catching Up

May 2, 2016 at 6:59 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Well, April just flew by, and it’s been nearly a month since my last blog post.  So much happens in a month these days.  I don’t even know what to cover.  So really this post will be primarily a picture dump:).  The weather has been just plain crazy this year!  It’s cold one day, warm the next, rainy for several days straight.  But we have gotten some good outdoor time in.  And so, on to the photos!  Baby K in his stylin’ Baby Banz…

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They look adorable…and will probably be great one day soon – but for now, baby K just likes to take them off and chew on them.  Baby K and big sissy…

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Little C looking cool on his scooter with George the monkey…

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Everything.In.The.Mouth….

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Tons of dandelions to blow!  Preferably away from our yard!

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Scootering and playing in the yard after pajama night at AWANA…

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Good ole Morris…

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Dogwood in bloom…

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Can you tell I like our dogwoods?

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Baby K having fun in his walker…

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Drop the spoon is a great game!

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More dogwood pics – LOL!

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Just some fun plant life…

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Hastas coming to life!

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The willow is a favorite!

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Neighbor horse…

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And awesome mixed berry and ricotta crepes….

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I’m on a crepe craze.  They are the perfect compromise for my kids and me.  The kids love pancakes…me, not so much.  But crepes are like nice thin pancake omelets.  And the kids love berries, so it really is a win-win:).  I discovered I actually like ricotta filling over cream cheese.  So for this one, I just mixed about a cup of ricotta with lemon juice and powdered sugar to taste.  Then I made a simple berry compote, this one with strawberries and blueberries, by boiling the berries with some water and honey.  It was sooooo yummy!!!!

In other updates, baby K started really crawling on Saturday!  We discovered we were all kind of catering to his laziness by always bringing him whatever he wanted whenever he yelled for something.  So we made a conscious effort to stop doing that and make him move to his toys, etc.  It worked!  He’s a little man on the go.  A bit more of a tortoise than a hare right now, but at least he’s getting around.  He also started really clapping yesterday.  It was adorable!  My oldest son had his piano recital Saturday night.  I will post some pics from that as soon as I’m able to download them.  The older two kids stayed with my parents Friday night and went to the train museum Saturday before the recital.  Baby K and I went to my friend’s women’s conference on Saturday.  It was amazingly inspirational and God-centered!  Baby K soaked up being loved on by all the ladies!  So, I think that about catches up on the past several weeks.  Have a blessed start to May!

 

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Snowy April

April 9, 2016 at 4:50 pm (Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Fun camera day!  Some pictures from an unusual snowy day in April…

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And the weather folk said it wouldn’t stick – LOL!

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What a beautiful sight!  So much greenery coated in winter white…

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Dogwood blooms on ice…

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Going macro…

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Have a blessed weekend!

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Sick Days

April 6, 2016 at 11:26 pm (Family, Personal, Uncategorized)

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So today, my entire family is sick – and I mean down and out sick.  Even though I telecommute on Wednesdays, I ended up taking the day off because taking care of three sick kids and a sick hubby is more than enough to keep me from getting a full day’s worth of work in.  Here’s the thing though, I’m sick, too.  I have whatever’s going around the house, really bad allergies, and I was up with baby K at least six times last night (six that I pretty clearly remember, but I’m pretty sure there was more that my foggy brain has blocked out).  Now this post isn’t really to vent or complain.  It’s to give a shout out to all the mamas (past, present, and future) who know what it means to have a “mama sick day”.  It’s getting up early despite being up pretty much all night with the baby.  It’s making breakfast for everyone, cleaning up the kitchen, cramming in some home school when the Tylenol kicks in and brings the kids’ fevers down, bringing hubby water and Advil so he can manage to relocate from the bed to the couch, washing all the bedding in an effort to de-crud, doing three loads of laundry and actually getting them put away, scrubbing the bathrooms to further de-crud, making homemade chicken noodle soup for lunch for all the poor little sicklings, vacuuming and mopping the floors, setting up the plastic crates I got to help organize the playroom, ordering home school curricula for next year (seriously cobbled together an awesome 3rd grade curriculum for my son for right around $100 thanks to homeschoolclassifieds.com and Amazon!), making a nutrient-packed chicken and dumplings dinner, scrubbing down the kitchen, completing a reading assignment and 500-word forum post with two 250-word responses to other posts for grad school, bathing all the children, and still managing to get a shower in (because it’s literally been three days since the last one) – most of this done while wearing baby K in the sling because he doesn’t want to be put down while he’s sick.  And that’s a mama “sick day”.  There is no laying around on the couch all day watching TV (really not ragging on hubby here – I would have totally loved to spend the day vegging out to a Master Chef marathon – plus he’ll have to suck it up tomorrow since I have a meeting and have to go into the office).  No, mama sick days are day spent taking care of others.  And I actually love how I feel at the end of a day like this.  I’m exhausted, puffy-eyed from allergies, coughing, somewhat feverish, and knowing that tonight will likely bring as little rest as last night.  But I enjoy taking care of my kids and hubby.  I love when they thank me for the good dinner and when they snuggle with me on the couch at the end of the day.  So I just want to say to all the mamas out there who know exactly how mama sick days go – bravo!  You are rock stars!  And you are not alone.  Seriously, being a mom should actually qualify as a super power – LOL!

So that’s what I have to say about that.  Now here are some pics from the past few days.  Two boys having fun during an Inside Out movie night…

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My oldest son is really the sweetest boy ever.  His baby brother wanted to play with his toys, and little C shared with him so nicely.  When baby K started reaching for the toy little C was playing with, little C just moved it over for him.  Such an amazing big brother!

Those poor sleepy sick eyes…

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Baby K loves his turtle night light…

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There’s been a lot of LEGO creating going on in the sick house….

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My daughter is getting so creative with her LEGO creations – I love it!

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And one on little C’s night stand…

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And of course little C wanted his picture taken behind his bed…not sure why, but it’s cute.

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So there it is, the past few days of unfun sicknesses and the little joys that make these days good even when everyone is feeling bad.

And finally, I’ll leave this post with the recipe for the chicken and dumplings, because it was really comfort food that made the perfect ending to a sick day.

Chicken and Dumplings

Chop up two thick chicken breasts and cook them in a skillet, seasoning with Montreal Chicken seasoning, rubbed sage, turmeric, and a little bit of salt.  While the chicken is cooking, chop up some carrots, celery, onion, and spinach.  Put all the vegetables in a pot and add about 6 cups of water as well as enough chicken bullion for 6 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.  Add the chicken once it’s cooked.  Let it all simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Then mix the dumplings – 2 cups flour (I used rice flour because of my daughter’s wheat allergy), 4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp oil or butter, and 3/4 c water.  Mix until a somewhat stiff dough forms, then drop by Tbsp into the simmering soup.  Simmer covered for another 20 minutes.

Have a great end of the week and a blessed weekend!

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Dusk Outing

April 1, 2016 at 12:26 am (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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There really is nothing better than a dusk walk around the yard with my littles after a long hard day…or week…  I’m going into the tenth month of getting up at least 2-3 times per night to feed the baby, and I am just flat out tired!  I had a meltdown over the messiness of our house yesterday and went on an insane cleaning spree.  So, yeah, I’m pretty much losing it.  Today, this walk was exactly what I needed to regroup.  I love early spring when the plants and trees are just getting their greens and some tiny flowers start appearing.

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We made the rounds, checking all of our plants.  The willow is looking super happy!

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This is my daughter’s favorite, and we had a little love fest for it – LOL!

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In the front, we played my oldest son’s favorite game, What’s Your Favorite Tree.  Even though he will never let me actually claim my favorite tree…  The kids just enjoyed having me snap their pictures while they ran around and carried on:).

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There were some feeble attempts at climbing the dogwood…

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And some fun pretending to ride the tractor…

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And, of course, Morris got some love!

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I didn’t notice the piece of grass in front of her mouth until I downloaded the photo, but there is something to say for comedic grass placement:)

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This is the sweetest stray cat I’ve ever seen.  I think hubby is right that this one used to be domesticated.  She has claws, but she is so good with the kids that those claws never come out…even when baby girl is loving on her…

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Hanging in the rocker on the front porch and showing off newly painted nails…

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And some big sissy love…

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These two are so sweet together!

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What can I say?  This little girl has a lot of sweetness and love in her!  Whether it’s baby brother, a stray cat, or a cherished willow tree.  She is such a blessing.  All of kids are, and I’m so thankful for them every day!

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And thankful for cameras to catch the sweetest moments!

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Easter 2016

March 28, 2016 at 9:25 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Happy Resurrection Day!  This was a really great Easter!  We started the day with breakfast at our church.  Then our pastor gave a wonderful sermon that somehow combined our expository venture through Titus with the resurrection message.  After church, we headed up to my parents for some good family time…and some family portraits in our Easter best!

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Our family…

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My sister’s family…

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The kids enjoyed the loaded Easter baskets my parents always prepare for them!

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Baby K’s basket…

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Little girl’s basket…

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And Bubba’s basket…

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Eying up the goodies…

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Baby K enjoying his new plush book…

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Then it was outside for the Easter egg hunt!

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Baby K even got some eggs this year!

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Hanging with uncle, searching for eggs…

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Counting to make sure we got them all :)…

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And some photo editing for an ethereal look!

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I loved the outfits my parents got the kids this year!  They looked so gorgeous!

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So that was our Easter 2016.  I hope everyone had a good one.  Praise the Lord for the sacrifice He made so that we can have hope and joy in this life!

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Pre-Easter Tea and Egg Hunt

March 26, 2016 at 9:40 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Ah, the craziness and fun that is Easter weekend!  Yesterday, the kids and I went up to my folks’ house for our annual Easter tea…always a big hit!  My dad had the kids cut some of the daffodils for a nice table display…

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They ended up with a beautiful bouquet.  My niece got her first camera and was having fun snapping away.  I love that she is getting into photography!

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A little prettiness growing in my dad’s garden…

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Then we went in and chowed down on some yummy eats.  The spread…

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Giant strawberries and yummy blueberries…

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Cookies from Panera…

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My parents got the last five cookies for the day and ended up getting playfully heckled by the people who were in line behind them:).  The cute Peter Rabbit dishes…

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A place was even set for sweet baby K, though he ended up napping through the lunch…

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My oldest son put together a nice small bouquet and proudly added it to the table decorations…

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Eating a ginormous strawberry…

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I still can’t get over that ginormous doesn’t get hit by spellcheck anymore…what crazy days we live in – LOL!  Baby girl and her cousin enjoying the treats…

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After lunch, it was back outside to enjoy some more of the gorgeous weather!  The older kids took turns pushing baby K in the swing…

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And they each took a turn in the baby swing, too, because let’s face it, there’s just something magnetic about the baby swing:).

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But they did give the big kid swings a workout, too.

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And now, cute baby K picture break:).  I love baby smiles in the Good Friday sunshine!  Baby K and his beautiful aunt…

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Flying baby…

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The world is so much funner upside down!

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The older kids had fun playing Gilligan with Popple in the hammock…

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Tired Bubba…

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Last night, we went to Good Friday church service and the kids sang an adorable rendition of “At the Cross.”  Good Friday services at our church haven’t always been powerful, but this one was.  The speakers were incredible and truly painted a picture of what Christ endured for us.  And the songs were really powerful, too.  One of our friends sang a beautiful duet of “Old Rugged Cross” with her father – tears.

Today brought the church Easter egg hunt.  It was really the best one we’ve been to yet.  There weren’t a ton of kids like there usually is, all of the kids were sweet and not pushy and crazy, and the leaders got a TON of eggs this year.  Every kid had an overflowing basket and it all ran at a nice leisurely pace instead of a frenzied scramble.  Really good time!

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Baby girl’s first year in the older group…reach high for those eggs!

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And there was face painting as always!

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Bubba decided he didn’t like the pirate and wanted to wipe it off…yeah, too late…

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I thought it looked really cute though.  The girl who did the kids’ faces was really good.

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 I’m so impressed with this little girl.  She is such a caring and thoughtful sweetheart.  She was passing by a bunch of eggs at the hunt today, and I asked her why she wasn’t picking up more eggs.  She said because she was making sure there were some for the other kids.  Sometimes I forget she’s only five and I take for granted how very blessed I am to have kids who behave well on grocery trips and say sweet insightful prayers at night.  I can’t ever deserve them, but I thank God so much for the amazing kids He’s entrusted me to raise.  And speaking of blessings, a couple more shots of baby K…

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Have a very blessed Easter!  The Lord is risen!  May we live every day remembering what He suffered so that we can live.

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Blessings

March 18, 2016 at 5:56 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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“Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty.”

~Psalm 104:1

The sky always proclaims the glory of our Lord!  I love all of the seasons, but there is something so gorgeous about the coming of spring and the beautiful skies God paints above trees that are just starting to bud.  I hate those few days after the time change, but oh how love the extra daylight in the evening and the time outdoors.  Forget for a moment that they’re actually calling for snow around here on Sunday…seriously.  We’ll just enjoy the nice weather for now!  The kids are having such a wonderful time playing outside.  It’s one thing that makes me really happy we bought this house.  When the home construction that comes with buying a house out of bankruptcy gets me down, all I have to do is watch the smiles on my kids’ faces when they play in the driveway and the backyard!  This boy is getting more daring every minute…

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He’s also getting crazy talkative – which anyone who knows us personally knows is a huge breakthrough. The boy who hasn’t talked much and won’t even think about talking to strangers is now jabbering and asking virtually non-stop questions!  It’s an awesome thing to witness.

And this silly girl…

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She got her mama’s fine hair that gets static-y ALL THE TIME!  And this baby boy…

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He’s enjoying his romps in the grass – blessed with another outdoorsy kid!

These two are as close as I could ever imagine a brother and sister being.  She’s his security blanket, and he’s the big brother who will do anything for her.  I love watching them play together – though they argue and whine at each other on occasion, they mostly just enjoy each other’s company.

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Sweet boy…

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Big sister…

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Grassy portraits…

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Yep, that binky has a strategic purpose  keep the grass and dirt out of the mouth!

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Crazy twists on the swing!

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Both of my older kids have been riding the bike, and we’re hoping to get them on two wheels sometime soon…we’ll see.

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A friend gave us this cute log cabin playhouse.  The kids have been playing McDonald’s drive through in it:).  Chicken nuggets anyone?

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Serving up a sandwich with a bike helmet on.  What can I say?  The girl has her own special kind of style…

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Goof…

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And more baby in the grass…

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And that’s what the kids, my camera and I have been doing when we aren’t homeschooling, working, and trying to keep the house in some semblance of order:).  So thankful for God’s many blessings.  Have a very blessed weekend!

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