Friday, December 31, 2010

Radical New Year

Our church has been challenged as a congregation to have a radical 2011. Mostly based on the book by David Platt. Some of the challenges are to read the bible and pray every day. To give sacrificially to those in need. Not just locally but globally.

Another challenge is to pray about going on a missions trip in the next three years. And, to move out of our comfort zone and build relationships with those we might not normally spend time with. There are a few others. About 8-10 in all.

The church responded to the challenge wholeheartedly. My pastor is so encouraged that he can't wait to see how God uses our church to affect our neighborhood, city, state, nation and world in 2011.

I prayerfully accepted each challenge for 2011. And the reason I share all of this is that I hope to write some posts in 2011 that report how God is working in and through us individually and as a church. As a faithful body of Christ followers.

We have, as of today collected over $15,000 to use for service and missions projects in our church, community and world. And, I hope this is just the beginning. Tonight, at church, is a night of prayer, reflection, and meditation. The brick building will be open from 6-12 to go in and just pray.

I hope to sneak up there for just a little bit. But, if I am not able to do it, I am planning on taking a few minutes, in a quiet area of the house, and spend a little time letting God know that I will be available to Him for His plans and purposes in my life for the year 2011.

I hope everyone has a purposeful, safe, blessed and Happy New Year . . .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Love Little Mama This Much

For Christmas she thought of every one's presents all on her own. If she would have had her way (and I had more time) she would have made every one's special gift. For weeks she thought about what every one would want. What they would enjoy. What would be special to just them. She was constantly talking to me about it. Needing a list. And checking it twice. And three times and four times.

Nature Girl got a Claire's gift card.
Boop got silly bands.
She made Ellie a blanket. All by herself. Well I helped a little bit.
Daddy got a hand decorated picture frame with a picture from a past hunting trip.
Grandma got a handmade candle that a friend made.
Sissy also got a handmade decorated picture frame with a picture from my wedding.
Me a gift card to Starbucks.

She paid for just about everything with her own money. We were more than happy to make up any differences she had. I am so thankful that she enjoys giving as much as getting . . .

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas

It is amazing, to me, how fast the time goes by!! Wasn't it just Halloween?? We had a fabulous weekend. Made extra special by wonderful family time and fabulous food!

Grandma came Thursday and was here by noon! That was a great surprise and I put her to work, right away, making cookies with the kids. They had a blast and I know she did too! We had peanut butter bars, peanut butter cookies with Hershey's kisses in the middle, tradition sugar Christmas cookies, bon bons, store bought cookies and macaroons. I think that is all. We fixed up two containers and brought them to the neighbors. Needless to say, we still have cookies left over! Daddy fixed pulled pork for dinner that night and it was excellent.

Friday we just hung around the house and finished little odds and ends tasks. Hubby had to work but was able to drop in occasionally. We participated in the Christmon Tree at church Christmas Eve and that entailed us going on stage as a family and introducing ourselves and reading a little something about the meaning of the manager and placing on ornament on the tree. About a dozen families participated. When we got home from church we had ham and tons of appetizers. The kids didn't fall asleep until after 11. So, Santa was at our house quite late!

The kids enjoyed Christmas day. I think they each got what the really wanted. Little Mama a DS. Nature Girl a mountain bike. Boop got a space ship just like his friend AND a real tool box with real tools. Just like Daddy. EG just enjoyed ripping everyone else's presents open. She did get her very first bike.

I got a Kindle, which I am really excited about. I have already uploaded my first book. And it was free! I think Daddy got everything he wanted as well. Including a GPS. Grandma and Sissy were happy with their gifts as well. But, I think most of all, we were just happy to be together.

Hubby had to work so came in and out all day long. Our aunt and uncle arrived at around noon and the kids were very excited. They love Christmas with Auntie Karla and Uncle Warrnie! We hung out and watched movies. Played with our new toys and started cooking for our traditional Christmas dinner.

Hubby makes a wonderful prime rib. This year we also had speckled butter beans and hashbrown casserole. Great, great dinner, once again!

It all went by just way too fast. Saturday night, after everyone had gone to bed, except me, Nature Girl came out. You could tell she was a little sad. She didn't want it to be over. She loves family, she loves all the excitement, and it was over. I know a little how she feels. Just kind of sad it is done. I tried to let her know that everyday can be special (I need to realize that too.) And we can celebrate everyday that God gives us as a gift. I helped her (and myself). I also told her I would wait at least a week before we took all the decorations down!

Yesterday was a relaxing day. And today we took the kids shopping at Target to spend their gift cards and hubby is taking them to a movie this afternoon. I am sure, slowly but surely, we will get back to "life." Yet, another Christmas past.

Hopefully, I will have pictures tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Last Day

Hubby and I have made the executive decision that from now on, when we travel over 2 hours, we stay an extra day. The time went by so darn fast!

We only stayed until about noon on Sunday. There was the four hour ride home and cleaning out the camper and hubby getting ready for his long work week. (When we got home we had no electricity. But, that is another story.)

Anyway, before we left, we enjoyed a great scrambled egg, venison sausage, biscuit and muffin breakfast. A true camping delight. It seems when you cook and eat outside, you just tend to eat more. At least I know Boop did!

The kids had one last romp through the woods. And the picture below is of them covered in mud. We should have taken a before and after picture!

I just love making these memories. We can't wait to go again . . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day Two

No camping trip can have perfect weather. We knew there would be a big chance of rain. And it did, on Saturday, on and off, all day. One of those times where it is a blessing to have a travel trailer. But, we sure didn't want to stay in there all day!

One of the couples we traveled with had been to the Gardens before so they knew what to do. And we did! All day! Our first stop was the butterfly garden. It was huge and the kids enjoyed watching the butterflies and trying to get them to land on them.

It was a little stressful, though, trying to keep up with all of the kids. There was 8 adults and we all did our part! My friend's parents were with us and she is a preschool teacher. It was a little ironic that she spent her weekend off chaperoning a passel of kids. But, as she said "all of these are good kids." And, I agree.

The next stop on our Saturday tour of the Gardens was the horticulture center. In the building they had all types of plant life. Some of it was pretty amazing. The kids loved the tree with the little bananas. I LOVED the poinsettia tree. It was absolutely gorgeous! As you can see.

The kids got along SO well. The age range was from 18 mos to 9 years. And every age in between. Not once did any of us hear a complaint about any thing or any one.

We left the Gardens for lunch. We all agreed on pizza so we stopped at a little pizza joint just down the road and it turned out to be very tasty and the staff was really very nice. We all ate well.

Our next stop was the chapel. A must see as quoted by our "travel guides." And once again we were not disappointed. The chapel was spectacular. It was set in a little ravine in the middle of some woods. As we drove up to it (all three cars) they sign read "A place for quiet meditation." I wasn't exactly sure why we were there - ha, ha!

We looked around the architecture and then went in to listen to the organist. It really was a place for peace and contemplation and reflection.

Behind the chapel was a little creek with this huge rock. One of the big boys thought it would be fun to climb it. And so the others had to follow.

Our last stop for the day, before we went on our trolley ride to see the million Christmas lights, was the Bird of Prey show. Because of the weather it was an abbreviated show. But, the kids loved it. The speaker was really very knowledgeable about the birds she was showing. The first was a Harris Hawk. Then a Great Horned Owl and, lastly, was a Red Shouldered Hawk. They flew freely around and would swoop right over our heads. It would make you duck they were so close. Amazing!

Finally, we ran back to the campground to get extra layers on because we were about to ride an open air trolley to see the million Christmas lights displayed through out the Gardens at night. Everyone I spoke to before we left said it is spectacular. And they were right. It was one display of lights after another. My favorite was a huge Christmas wreath and about a dozen big poinsettia plants made up of lights. Another fan favorite was the winter wonderland done in white lights. And, also, the Tinker Bell and Jack Frost fight between spring and winter was an ahh oooo moment. It was also done in lights that made the frost covered flowers spring into blossoms right before our very eyes. There were displays of lights on the waters and their reflections in the lakes were stunning. It met every expectation. And even hubby was impressed. That can be hard to do sometimes!

It was cold, but no one noticed.

I know, lots of words and lots of pictures. And I am not even done yet. But, we really did have the time of our lives. Camping and adventuring . . .

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day One

Because there are soooo many great pictures and so much to say, I am going to break down our camping trip into 3 posts. Maybe. Once again we had a fabulous time. The campsite was beautiful and the company was excellent!! Traveling with family and friends is the way to go!

The campground was at the foot of the mountains and the views on the trip were spectacular. I have found a new place to retire to. Anyway, once we got to the campground, we had to find three campsites together. One option was near the restrooms, which is important. But, there was one spot that backed up to a huge hill with trees and a stream and a lake. That place won out. It was perfect for the kids, which in turn means perfect for the parents. The kids could run and play and stay in sight and just have a blast. And they did!

We got to our site mid afternoon and set up. Checked out the sites and just relaxed. The kids immediately went to explore. Boop and his friend grabbed the mitts and a baseball and played catch behind the camper. The girls ran off to play in the woods. And the little girls spent most of their time trying to stay out of trouble! Ha, ha.

You hate to bring technology out in nature but sometimes it comes in handy when a problem arises. A camping part was needed and the boys were able to fix the problem with the help of a little technology!

The next picture is a "Where's Nature Girl?" picture. See if you can find her in the woods? The kids spent tons of time playing follow the leader and hide and seek and just exploring. The got coated in mud and got tons of bruises and cuts and scrapes. Just playing. But, for the most part, we never heard a complaint. I think if you asked any of the 10 kids they would tell you the woods and hill were the best part of the trip.

We enjoyed a great chili dinner around the campfire. All 16 of us. Surprisingly enough know one fell in the fire! Although a kid or two came kind of close. Daddy had taught EG how to rub her hands together, to keep them warm, and then face them palms toward the fire. (I wish I had a picture of it.)

While EG slept with us (she made it in her crib until 4AM when Boop fell out of bed and she noticed me walking past her), anyway, while EG slept in between hubby and me, I noticed her rubbing her hands together and sticking them palm side out. I can only assume she was dreaming of sitting in front of the fire. It was one of the most incredible things I have seen!

We all got a pretty decent night sleep, all things considered. It rained during the night and you could hear it on the roof of the camper. Also, the girls noticed, before falling a sleep, a black and white "cat" in our campsite. Turned out to be a raccoon!

More on day two tomorrow . . .