Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday Luke!

Happy Birthday Luke!!

Luke, you turned 7!! How did that happen so fast? Well, it was fast for me, but you couldn’t wait. You’ve been telling everyone you’re going to be 7 since the beginning of summer!

Lukie-lou-magoo – what am I going to do with you? That is my mantra a couple of times a day. You have this amazing ability to drive me crazy one moment and make me laugh in the very next. You are so charming. People have always been and continue to be quite drawn to you. You definitely have fans in your little sisters. They follow you around and beg you to play with them. You are so good with them and they love you so much. You and Caleb have that very brotherly love for one another. You’ll play together for hours on end some days and others you guys argue nonstop. Still, Caleb loves you very much and is always looking out for you. He walks with you to and from your class every morning. And you adore him, Luke. You are always asking his advice and say that you want to be like Caleb.

I’m glad that you are Luke. I love you so much, child. I pray that you always have such a sweet love for your bible and God. You tell everyone you want to be a “Preacher” when you grow up. I pray you do grow to be a man of God. That you have God’s Word tucked in your heart. I pray that you are always so bold in your faith. You wear a cross necklace to your public school every day and are always proud to tell others that you are a Christian. Luke, you are a light - in our lives and in the world. Continue to shine bright for Jesus. I am so proud of you and love you with all that I have.

This was taken after Luke opened all his presents.  J and I love how this picture really does capture each child's presonality.  Ella is OBSESSED with being a mermaid, Lily Kate has that aren't I so cute smile, Luke is crazy and Caleb is all things skater and Mr. Too Coo for School.
Gosh, I love these kids!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 4: Thankful

Today I am thankful:  That I don't have to work.

My neighbor across the street has a home day care and every morning I watch moms and dads drop off their little ones and in the evening I watch them come home to retrieve them. 
While being at home all day can be difficult, there is really no place I would rather be.
I'm thankful that we are in a situation where I can choose to be at home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 3: Thankful

Today I am thankful for:  My 5:45 AM drive to Crossfit every morning.

To the right of me is a gorgeous sunrise,
To my left the Rocky Mountains,
and in front of me is a great view of downtown.

Every morning I'm reminded of how glad I am to live where we live!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 2: Thankful

Today I am thankful for: Tennis Lessons.

When people ask me what I am going to do when all my kids are in school I've always said the same thing. "play tennis."  Then they usually say, "Oh, I didn't know you play tennis?"  To which I reply, "I don't, but I'm determined to learn!"

And learning I am.  I started taking tennis a couple of weeks ago and I love it.  Love the instructor, love the game, love it all.

I'm defintely not going to be a tennis pro anytime soon (or anytime at all) but I am having so much fun learning the game.  My goal is to become good enough that I can play on a doubles team.  After today's lesson, I think that may take a while!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Soli Deo gloria


Boy, have I had lot of it over the past couple of months.

First I blamed it on Joseph being gone, at what some would call an important time in our lives – moving! Then I blamed it on the move. Then on being homeless. Then the adjustment of the move. Then on having boxes all over my house from the move. Then on moving to a new place and knowing NO ONE.

Seriously, here we are 7 weeks later and by golly the move is over and it is time for me to MOVE ON. Mercy.

Honestly, though, I have been a mess. Easily irritable, grouchy, complaining, frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, unhappy, full of anxiety, sad, lonely, depressed, miserable…basically a mess. And because I’m feeling that way, it has rubbed off on the whole posse. Because rivers flow south. Or something like that.

I’m having a hard time. And I have no idea why. My life is so blessed. I have a husband who loves me so much and would do anything for me, I four gorgeous and healthy kiddo’s, I live in a beautiful place, I’ve been spending time with Jesus, I don’t have to work, don’t struggle financially, I’m healthy… So what is the problem?

The problem is that I’m not content. With what I have, with who I am, with…everything.

I’m not patient enough.
I don’t homeschool (even though I don’t want to!)
I’m not smart enough.
I don’t remember people’s birthdays.
I’m not thoughtful enough.
My kids aren’t as well behaved as…
I’m not thin enough.
I don’t cook well or enough.
My house is messier than…
I don’t have a job (even though I don’t want one!)

I wish I had a bigger house.
I wish my kids were better behaved.
I wish I had the three new pair of running shoes that Zappo’s is teasing me with.
I wish I had clothes that were more fashionable.
I wish I parented like so and so.
I wish I looked like so and so.
I wish I was as creative as so and so.
I want, I want, I want.
I wish, I wish, I wish.
And on.
And on.
And on.


One of my FAVORITE things about parenting is how God reveals so much about who we are and who He is through being a parent.

Caleb is my child that had issues with contentment. I want a new BMX bike, I want new trucks for my skateboard, I want new skateboard, I want new Vans, I want a new DC hat, I want a new ramp, I want an IPAD, I want a IPOD, I want…I want…I want. He wants what everyone else has. He wants to be like everyone else. Because he’s not content with who he is and what he has.

UGH. J was so irritated with him and I was so frustrated with him. We started in on the lecture about its sinful to covet what other have and not be content. God created us to be original and we need to be thankful for all that He has given us. It’s going to be a hard life ahead if we can’t learn to be content… He wasn’t really listening, was definitely angry, definitely had a bad attitude and definitely had a hard heart.

And then I realized – this is me.

In a small body, more blatant and obvious, but me. Angry, bad attitude, hardened heart and more.

One of my most favorite peeps in the world came to visit me during the height of my sadness. She recommended that I write daily what I am thankful for. Small things and big. I used that idea with Caleb and challenged him to start listing all the things he was thankful for.
And you know what. His heart softened. Almost immediately. Because it’s hard to be angry, resentful and unhappy when you look at all you’ve been given. By God’s grace alone.

I recently read a devotional on 2 Samuel 7:18

18 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:
“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?

The Author of the devotional (Chuck Swindoll) says:
"It's important that every once in a while we sit down, take a long look at our short lives, and count our blessings. Who are we to have been protected from the rains that fell and the strong winds that destroyed regions, leaving hundreds homeless? Who are we that He has blessed our house and kept it safe? Warm in the winter . . . cool in the summer. Who am I, Lord, that You should give me health and strength to be able to hold a job or pursue this career or get this degree? Or to have parents who have encouraged me? Or to have these great kids and to see them grow? Who am I?"

Who am I, Lord, that I should be so blessed to walk along this rich, amazing path? Left to my own devices, I should be strung out on drugs or living with some random person who is abusive or living in fear, guilt and shame. But by your grace alone, I am who I am, where I am today. Who am I, Lord, that you would love me so much?

So I’m not the greatest wife, mother, friend, cook, housekeeper, teacher, shopper, blogger, anything… But, by His grace alone, I am who I am. And He will work good in me and from me. By His grace alone.

I’m going to start my 100 Days of Thanks here, right now.
Day 1:
I’m thankful for my Michele – whose lake in her backyard could be filled with my tears that she has helped wipe away. My Michele, who is my ‘safe’ person that I can tell anything to because I know she will love me inspite of it. My Michele, who challenges me and inspires me to be the person that God created me to be. My Michele, who I look up to and love with my whole heart. M, thank you for sharing, teaching, loving, holding and praying me through some of the hardest times in my life. I love you, friend.

Monday, August 08, 2011

A visit with one of my FAVORITE friends!

(STILL catching up from June)

J had to stay in SA a little longer than we did and, since he was travelling with the pets, Caleb was very set on riding with him.  So Luke, the Diva's and I set out on our own adventure.  We headed to stay with some of our best friends in St. Louis. 

It's only a 14 hour trip, but with one adult and three kids it's more like a 20 hour trip.  So we took it in 2 days.  I was a little nervous because it was my first time travelling that far and staying in a hotel by myself with the kids.  But it turned out to be surprisingly easy!  I just may be doing more of that in the future.

We had a fabulous time with The Ziggy's!  My BFF Amy is amazing.  SO different from me.  She home schools, loves to cook, loves to try exotic food, is extremely patient, has big ideas, loves to take her kids on adventures by herself, she's great with a budget, lives frugally, lives simply, uses every opportunity to teach her all around incredible.  Seriously.  We were laughing because I told her that I recently described her to someone as a mix between Martha Stewart, Ma Ingalls and Mr. Rogers.

She didn't think that was flattering.
I do!  I love all three!!

Anyway, here are some pictures of our adventures with them.

Ella with her sad, drama face.

Sad because I wouldn't let her down in the Mississippi river that was FLOODED.  Gosh I am such a mean mom.

Now she got her sister in the drama.  See, that's the trouble with twins.  Once one gets started the other likes to join right in.  So that she isn't forgotten about.  Heaven forbid.

I lived in St. Louis during my high school years and never once went up in the arch.  Amy thought it would be fun.  Just her and me and our (collectively) 7 kids.  I was surprised that they all did well and no one fussed too much about the scary ride up.  The lady in front of us actually refused to get in the tiny box that takes you up to the top.  It was scary.  The arch actually sways quite a bit.  I never would consider myself claustrophobic, but I was ready to come down once I saw the storm coming.  S-c-a-r-y!

Ella and Elise

Big Man T.  This child has some energy.  All boy!

I like this one of Lily Kate

Lily Kate the little fish

My girls are getting so big.  Look how long those little legs are!

Baby J

Amy!  She's gonna love this one!

Little Gracie

We went downtown one day where they have all these little splash pads and ponds for kids to play in.  See the guy in red...he's the lifeguard.  I think our kids were making him nervous.  It was really slippery with the marble.

Luke and Lily Kate.  I make my kids buddy up...Caleb is in charge of helping Ella and Luke is in charge of LK.  In all honesty, LK is really good at helping Luke remember what he is supposed to be doing.  Luke and Ella have the same spacey, irresponsible, having too much fun to listen, crazy, wild personalities.  Our little buddy system works well!

Ella Mermaidy.  Oh, my.  Ella is obsessed with mermaids.  Obsessed.  Everyday she asks when she is going to turn into one and I don't have the heart to tell her it isn't going to happen so I say, "I guess not today, maybe tomorrow?"  Then tomorrow comes and she realizes she still isn't a mermaid, so she asks again.  I know.  Sad.  Someone really needs to tell her the truth.  Maybe her Daddy will!  Anyway, this is the face she makes while she is singing her "Mermaid" song.  The boys hate the...noise that her singing makes.  Her Daddy (who adores her) says it's like nails on a chalkboard.  We probably won't be telling her that truth anytime soon either.  Isn't she cute though!

The Ziggy kids minus two Mad kids.  Missing Ella Mermaidy (and yes, she tells everyone her name is Ella Grace Mermaid-y) and Caleb who was with his papa.

Lily Kate's mean face...

...1 second later, her sweet face.

Kids loved play rock, paper, scissors

Mr. T and his two little ladies

Amy and I!  Mercy, we have been through lots together.  Family vacations, many states travelled, 8 kids between us, husbands graduated from the Academy together and then changed career fields, many moves, many different phone numbers, but always good friends.  I love you Amy Z!

See, isn't she the perfect picture of motherhood!? 

And bringing it back to the sisters.  Love Ella's face!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A very different beach experience

(still catching up on our adventures in June!)

While J and I were in Mexico the kids stayed with my mama.  We were pretty sure that she would need a reprieve when we got back and since she lives an hour from Galveston we decided to take the kids there for the day.  Give mama a wee little break.  My sister, Sarah, came with us.

It was a really fun day, the kids had a blast, but a very different beach day than we had gotten used to in Mexico.  Very.Different.

Little Ella
Gosh this boy is cute!
My poor sister.  She was trying to lay out in peace and for some reason the kids thought it looked like a fun thing to do.  My sister can lay out for hours.  My kids can lay out for seconds.
This is a typical Ella face!

Daddy and Ella

Love this picture!
Sisters and best friends!
The boys were burying their sisters legs.  Everyone was fascinated with this game.  Luke kept getting frustrated with Ella because she kept moving.  I find that humerous because I get frustrated with Luke for moving all.the.time!

Aren't those cute kids in an ugly beach?  It is a night/day difference from the beaches we were at in Mexico!

I love this one of the girls holding hands.

Daddy and Ella.
Lily Kate and Ella!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Our Mexican vacation - 2 months later!

Back at the beginning of June, J and I took a kid-less vacation to Playa del Carmen.

We had a lot to celebrate – J finishing Residency, 4 kids, 10 years of being married and, well the fact that we are both here and living.

Lots to celebrate.

10 years ago, for our honeymoon, we went to Maui. Our recent trip to Mexico and our trip to Maui had 2 things in common. The gorgeous sand and water. Outside of that, the trips couldn’t have been more different.

When we went to Maui we were hyper-scheduled. I wanted to see/do everything. We had 1, sometimes, 2 excursions a day, hopped by plane to other islands and were busy from sun up to sun down. I don’t even really remember just sitting on the beach.

Which is ALL we did in Mexico. We sat on the beach and read, drank, ate, sat on the beach and read, ate drank and did more sitting on the beach and reading. It.was.glorious. Neither J or I do a lot of sitting in “real” life. It’s not in our personality or our lifestyle.

But, mercy, we found that we really do like it.
At least in this chaotic season of life.

Sometimes, for hours, we would just sit there in silence reading next to one another. The only words spoken were, “mas cerveza por favor” to the sweet lady bringing us drinks on the beach.

We did leave the beach one day. To go to the pool. Where we ate, drank, floated in the water, read and drank some more.

Glorious. Just glorious.

Especially if your life is as crazy, overwhelming, loud and busy as ours are.

We highly recommend Playa del Carmen and all-inclusive resorts.

And did I mention it was glorious. Just glorious.

Day 1:  You couldn't wipe that smile from my face! 
My amazing view.  The water really is gorgeous.  Especially after having been to so many Texas beaches.  BTW - that book 'The Help' was sooo good and the first on I'd read in years.  I.mean.years.  Now I'm obsessed...
Doesn't my man look so relaxed?
We bought this little Canon camera right before we left so that I wouldn't have to lug around my beast and it was SOO fun to use.  I was having blast taking self portraits.

This is the kids pool.  See how many kids are there. On our last day there, I heard a child cry and it was such an odd noise after not having heard or seen kids in days.  Brought me back to reality!  We really want to take the kids next time we go.  Or so we said...
Our other hot spot - the pool.  Just steps from the gorgous beach.
Sab Mad lying on a floatie.  With no kids splashing her or trying to get on with her. 
One thing that can be said about Dr. Mad is that he knows how to chill.  Does this look like a man who has a care in the world.  Good thing there was no emergency that required his expertise, because I don't think he would have moved a muscle.  "Man dies while doctor lays in pool asleep, oblivious to cries for help!"
Hours spent like this.  With 50 spf.  Meanwhile, mama is hiding...burnt!
We did do one excusion one morning.  Because I felt like we should see something of Mexico besides the beach and pool.  We went for a zip line tour!
Don't I look happy to be plunging 300 feet to my death.  I really love adventure!
The tour was over 12 different zip lines above the jungle.  Pretty cool!
JMad looking just as relaxed as he was at the pool!
After the zipline tour we went on ATV's and that may have been my fav part.  I love ATV's.  I go really fast and scare Dr. Mad.  Have I ever mentioned I'm a fast, terrible driver.  Not on purpose though.
And this was the last stop on the ATV/zip line tour.  We were all dirty from driving the ATV's, so this felt so nice and refreshing!
All over the resort were wild animals.
A new little towel animal was on our bed every day!
There were wild monkeys at this resort.  Waking me up in the morning.  Reminded me of home.  Everywhere I go, monkeys waking me...
I was trying to make friends with this peacock so that I could take my picture with him.  He thought I was crazy.  So did JMad.
This perfectly capture my husband.  Loves his drinks and loves his cigars.  This is his, 'I'm on vacation' face!  Love it!!
I make myself laugh.  Often.  And loud.  I was really having fun with self portraits!!
Say cheese!!
Self portrait number 29,489
The day we were going to leave.  Sniff, sniff.  BUT, I was so ready to see the kids.  SO READY!

Yep, it was fun. 
I think we should do that again.