Monday, February 28, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays

What a beautiful habit is thankfulness! I almost missed out on posting this today, simply because of the busy-ness of the day...but how many joys would I overlook if I didn't stop a moment to thank the giver of all good and perfect gifts...God the Father, Jesus the Son, The Holy Spirit!
85. Play-doh mornings
86. fields of brilliant yellow daffodils, glowing in the sun
87. a much needed and refreshing talk with Sam
88. plans coming together for a fun upcoming celebration
89. finishing a (very) long series of classes
90. hearing from Henry's soccer coach that practice begins this week!
91. windy, blustery days
92. early morning thunderstorms waking us all up
93. Bridget taking refuge in our bed after said thunderstorms
94. having a picnic in our backyard with friends
95. little-bitty tips of tulips and daffodils poking out of the ground, later than expected, but joyous nonetheless!
96. party night with the kids (pizza, How to Train Your Dragon, popcorn, lots of Narnia)
97. Sunday morning photo shoot with the kids
98. cooperative smiles, beautiful lighting, great pictures!
99. so many books on my to-read list that it's difficult to decide what to read at any given free moment
100. a friend to meet for morning runs
101. card playing friends who gather on Sunday many evenings to talk/play cards/hang out
102. new friends to meet at the park this week
103. an empty schedule that is quickly becoming filled

Won't you join the fun in counting your blessings with me? :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Great Wolf Lodge 2011

Last week we had a mini-vacation to Great Wolf Lodge. It was a very inexpensive trip, as we sat through a time-share presentation last year to 'earn' our two night stay there. It is a place we have wanted to visit for quite some time, as everyone who goes there just raves about how wonderful it is. We had put it off until now because it's kind of expensive, and we thought it might not be all it's cracked up to be. Turns out we were wrong, and this place is amazing!

We're already planning next year's winter getaway here. Jon, Kelly, Jordan and Matthew came with us, and we had a really fun time together!

I really wanted a picture under the sign, but we put it off until we were leaving. Then there was quite a bit of traffic around that area and Sam was worried about the kids. He raised his voice in telling them to be careful as they were getting out of the car, and Bridget started crying. So it didn't turn out quite like I planned, but it's still a captured moment. ;)
Thankfully, Great Wolf provides handy little luggage carts in the parking lot. We would have had to take MANY trips in and out without these. (There really is a luggage cart underneath all that stuff, even though you can't see it!) I called ahead to check on the room, and someone on the phone informed me that there would be no table and chairs in the room. That turned out to be wrong, but it worked well that we brought our own table and chairs along (as you'll see later). Besides that, often places that claim to accommodate a family of five only provide four chairs. I like for everyone to have a seat!We took a few minutes to get settled in our rooms, and headed right on down to the water park. They keep the indoor water park heated to 84 degrees. It feels a little warm until you first get wet, then it feels a little chilly. We finally all got used to the temperature and found it quite comfortable, but Bridget found it to be a little cold the first day. Thankfully the hotel provides lots and lots of warm, dry towels.
We spent the entire afternoon swimming in the lazy river and wave pool, going down crazy water slides, climbing around in the enormous tree fort and making new friends (Henry).

We eventually headed back to our rooms to dry off and we went out for dinner that evening. After a not-so-great experience at Steak and Shake, the manager decided to treat us all to dinner. That was an unexpected blessing!

Then we went back to the hotel to change into pajamas. Great Wolf provides an entertaining bedtime show/story, so the kids got all ready for bed and we headed to the lobby.
The scene is really incredible, with talking trees, animals and puppets. There is a song and story, and half way through it started snowing inside! It was so fun, and the kids were so surprised by all of it. The boys loved every minute of it. Even now, days after our trip, Jonah is still singing the wolf song (There's nothing to be scared of here! The wolf's out on the prowl, just listen for his howl....hooooooooowl!).
Bridget was a little too surprised. She sought the comfort of her Daddy's shoulders to watch the story after the tree started talking. She was pretty nervous about all that, but she didn't mind watching from a distance. It was past her usual bedtime at that point too, so I ended up taking her back up to the room for bed before it was all over.
Thankfully our room was right next to Jon and Kelly's room. After the bedtime story, we put all the kids to bed and played cards together awhile.
Breakfast was enjoyed right in our room. The little chairs we brought for the kids fit just perfectly at the coffee table in the room. Sam pulled it over in front of the tv and turned on a cartoon for them to watch while they ate. I don't think they had ever done that before and they thought it was the coolest thing ever!
The next day was filled with more time at the water park. Jon and Kelly had to check out early, but they just moved their things over to our room. (The great thing about Great Wolf is that you are welcome to use the water park until 9pm on the day that you check out!) We fixed macaroni and cheese in the microwave and ate lunch in the room, then made room for all the kids to lie down and have naps. They were all exhausted, so it worked out well. :)

What did we do, while five little children napped in our hotel room? Why, we played cards, of course! This is where the folding table and chairs we brought along became so useful! We set them up in the hallway just outside of our room, grabbed a few snacks, and we were all set. We got a few strange looks from the housekeeping crew, but nobody said anything to us.
Post-nap snacks on the couch were followed by more swimming.
That evening, we got dried off and dressed and headed to Arby's for dinner with Jon and Kelly. We finished off the evening with ice cream treats from Sonic (which we took back into Arby's because it was too windy and cold to eat them outside!), and then said goodbye to Jon and Kelly.
They headed back that evening, and we went back to the hotel for another night. We skipped the bedtime story in the lobby, as everyone was pretty tired...all that swimming wore us all out! The next morning we checked out of the hotel, swam for a few more hours and then headed home. We could have stayed all day and used the water park, but by that time we were done swimming. At least Sam and I were done. The kids probably wouldn't have minded swimming for another week straight!

We had so much fun at Great Wolf! They have a game called Magicquest (which is interactive and is played all throughout the hotel) which we chose not to play this time. Next time we might join in though, as it looked like it would be worth our time to try.

We were so blessed to have this time away from home in such a great place. It was good for our family, and so fun to have Jon and Kelly along with us. What a joy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays

I hardly know where to pick's been a busy month of February this year! So many things to be grateful for, so many memories made, so many lovely gifts...

On with the list, my heart overflows!

51. Play-doh at the kitchen table, creativity abounding
52.-62. Mom Heart Conference (an overnight getaway, uninterrupted conversation with other moms, a beautiful hotel room, meeting up with two blogging friends I had formerly only known online, listening to encouraging speakers, eating out at fun restaurants with the girls, pages of notes outlining my desires to be a better mom, a new book that I've been wanting (and not having to wait for it to ship to me!), 600+ moms coming together to praise the Lord!).
63. Mini-vacation to Great Wolf Lodge
64. Amazing family who joins us to make vacations extra special
65. Playing cards in the hallway while kids nap in the hotel room
66. Kids who know how to swim
67. Three incredibly different personalities in three wonderfully unique children
68. One with a heart to be independant
69. One with a heart for adventure
70. One with a heart full of joy
71. Precious hearts entrusted to my care
72. Visiting with my mom, talking and enjoying her company
73. The smiles on the kids faces when they realized Grandma had surprised them!
74. Sky the Donkey, smiling in her own way after a good ear rub...bending her head to the ground in happiness
75. A morning text from my father in law, rejoicing in the song of the birds outside
76. Finishing another book in Narnia...and the kids begging for more
77. Henry's revelation that, "Aslan is just like Jesus!"
78. Sam's new sidewalk down to the shop
79. Sam's excitement over the new sidewalk down to the shop. ;)
80. The orange glow of a beautiful, huge, full moon cresting over the tree tops as we drive
81. Finding kettle corn on sale for $0.99 at the grocery store
82. Sunday morning chats in the foyer at church...catching up with precious ones I don't see often enough
83. Sharing laughter with a lovely neighbor over the phone
84. A cardboard box that has now become a microwave, an oven and other kitchen appliances...

Won't you join me in taking note of your every day gifts? Even if you're not a blogger, take a moment to thank God for the lovely, every day, holy moments He has blessed you with today! "The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!" Psalm 126:3 :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Visit from my mom...days 2, 3 and 4

We spent days 2 shopping with my mom in Dallas. Sam really wanted to take her to a fun cowboy store (Shepler's) and we also stopped at Costco, Kohl's, and Bass Pro Shop. It was a great day...the kids love all those places, and I really enjoyed just hanging out with my mom. Kohl's was my favorite. The kids went off with Sam to find the toy department, and my mom and I just got to wander around, chatting and looking at all the fun clothes. (And it doesn't hurt that we found some stellar deals, too!)At Sheplers, Bridget and Jonah got new cowboy hats, and Henry (who didn't need a new cowboy hat) left with a sweet new cowboy shirt. Such a fun store! My little cowboys were in heaven there.
At Bass Pro Shop, Jonah had an encounter with a grizzly. He won.
After our long day of shopping in Dallas, we headed home to relax. We played Sam's new fishing game for the wii (so fun and addictive!), the kids had bubble baths, and we all went to bed.
The next day we were supposed to get a terrible ice/snow storm. They were so sure it was coming that all the local schools canceled school. Sam's work sent everyone home. We waited. And waited. And waited.
It never came. Finally in the early afternoon, Sam said, "Let's head into town!" So we loaded up and went to Jason's Deli for lunch. After that we took the kids to Chuck E Cheese (their favorite place on earth) and played for a loooong time. Grandma brought a LOT of coins along with her (she had a fun time getting those through security too!) and the kids had gotten some in their stockings for Christmas. So the adults were able to play too, and by the time we ran out of coins we were definitely all ready to head home.We did end up with a little snow, but really the storm was just a great big joke. ;)The next day Sam headed back to work and we hung out around the house. Mom played dolls with Bridget and store with the boys. We tried out our MarioKart game for the wii (wow, is that ever fun!), read books, watched Jonah practice his new magic tricks, and just talked.
In the afternoon, Sam came into town and met us for lunch so he could say good bye to my mom.It was such a fun visit! We just love you so much, Mom! We're so thankful you were able to come and stay with us for a few days...can't wait to see you again soon!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A (surprise!) visit from my 1

We told the kids that for Jonah's birthday we had a little surprise for them. I was going to take them to the airport to watch the airplanes. I explained that we wouldn't be in a hurry like when we're picking someone up, but we could just look around and watch some take-offs and landings.

It was an extraordinarily cold and windy day, so we drove through the private airport first. The kids enjoyed the smaller planes and each picked out which was their favorite.
Then I told them we could head over to the main airport and look at the big airplanes coming in and leaving. Our (tiny, little bitty) airport doesn't have much inside, but they always have some sort of vehicle on display. Recently it is one of those three wheeled motorcycles, and the kids really wanted to check that out. We killed some time there until I got a text from my mom saying that her plane was on the ground.

At that point we headed to a little courtyard in the airport that is just outside security. The kids had brought themselves a snack (someone left a partial bag of powdered donuts at our house), so they sat down on a bench to enjoy it. I made sure they chose a bench facing the door that Grandma would walk through shortly. :)

Jonah was busy passing out donuts when he happened to look up and see his Grandma walking through the door. It took him a minute to realize what was going on...he said, "Hey! That looks just like...isn't that GRANDMA? What are you DOING here???"
Henry ran right over to give her a hug, but then stepped back to just observe. He doesn't like surprises all that much, but he was very excited to see her! The other two just kept talking...things like, "What are you doing here at OUR airport?" and "I can't believe we ran into you HERE!" It was hilarious. I think it took quite a while for them to realize that she was staying for a few days.
We took Grandma to lunch (the birthday boy picked Taco Bell) and then headed home. We had a birthday dinner for Jonah that night with my mom and Sam's dad. Sam's mom ended up with the flu that night and couldn't join us.

We had a fun time celebrating Jonah! He is so thankful for each and every gift, no matter how big or small. I just love that about him. After dinner the kids settled in for a movie (Jonah got this one from Grandma and Jim for his birthday!), and the adults played a few rounds of cards.
Grandma showing up was such a fun birthday surprise for Jonah! She was able to stay for three more days, and we had a lot of fun while she was here! :)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Calling all superheroes...Jonah's 6th birthday!

Jonah turned six this year and decided he would have a superhero birthday party. He invited all his friends and told them to make sure to bring their cape or costumes along. We made awesome superhero masks for everyone that came, and Jonah decided on cupcakes AND cheesecake brownies, since he couldn't pick just one. :)

He really wanted a pin-the-cape on the superhero game, so we created this superhero and a bunch of masks and capes. Jonah was so excited about this part of his party. He just loves organized games!
The kids lined up into two for the masks, one for the capes. I was VERY grateful for my friend Kari's help. She is a born teacher and is good with crowd control.
Three of my beautiful friends and mamas of Jonah's friends: Sheridyn, Alisa, Kelly
The birthday boy himself, enjoying his moment.
My favorite picture of the day. These two are simply the best of friends, and they make my heart so happy. They spend their days looking out for one another and playing graciously together.
Happy Birthday, sweet Jonah! We love you! You have the best imagination, most generous spirit, and a heart that seeks after God. We are proud of you and love watching you grow. :)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays

It's a lovely habit to be thankful for the beauty in our everyday lives. I'm so enjoying this new means of showing my thankfulness.

A happy boy with lots of snow to enjoy.
Snow on the trampoline! Couldn't get much better for these two. :)
These birds come every winter on their journey South. The sound when all those little wings take flight is just amazing!
35. a sweet toddler tug at the hem of my shirt to whisper "I love you, Mommy!"
36. skype dates with my mom
37. a houseful of pint sized superheroes
38. the smile on a six year old's face right before he blows out his candles
39. family gathered together to watch the superbowl and play ping pong
40. the beautiful sound of the wind chimes blowing in the breeze outside my window
41. gloves, scarves, hats strewn about-evidence of wonderful memories made
42. new collage pictures arriving in the mail
43. adult friends willing to spend their Saturday afternoon celebrating our little Bear
44. hundreds of blackbirds taking refuge in our fields for a few days on their long journey South
45. a full month of quiet times in the morning for the kids and me (a life-giving new habit)
46. cut out snowflakes on the window
47. beautiful rainbows sparkling through the house from the crystal snowflake hanging in the kitchen window
48. a boy who can't quit whistling, because he whistles when he is happy
49. a grateful six year old filling out thank you cards on his birthday
50. the surprise of picking my mom up at the airport today!

Jonah is Six!

It's hard to believe my little guy is already six years old! This last year has been an especially fun one with Jonah.

He has had many firsts this year, including:
his first sleep-over at a friend's house
starting kindergarten
learning to read
camping in Colorado (and seeing a bear!)
going to summer camp
playing t-ball
visiting Arizona
starting Spanish classes
conquering the monkey bars
date night with Mommy
and many, many others...

Jonah lives life in such a way that inspires us.
He is always filled with joy, and he knows (really KNOWS) that his joy comes from the LORD!

Jonah is friends with everyone he meets and thinks that life should be shared. He is the most social of our children and loves to be around other people. I often refer to Jonah as my 'includer' since he invites everyone he knows to everything that we do.
It does make it difficult to get a picture with just Jonah in it, though. Since he surrounds himself with people, his pictures are usually shared also. ;)

Six years ago today, Jonah made his entrance into this world...arriving with little difficulty on his due date and changing our lives forever!

We are so thankful for our sweet little Bear. Jonah, you brighten our days, remind us to thank God for everything, spread laughter and cheer wherever you go. We love you so much and we are so blessed to be your parents! Love, Mom and Dad