Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rainy Day Tripping

      Mia's day camp at church started this past Tuesday, and Jackson, Max, and I got to tag along.  Let me just say that Jeremy was not too thrilled that we were christening the new ride in a severe thunder storm warning for a 2 hour drive to plunder around in a cave, but we couldn't help the weather, now could we?  We dropped the 2 little boys off at Nana's around 7:30, picked Max up, and headed to church in the pitch black dark.  I had hoped the weather would hit a little earlier and it would be over before we left, but it conveniently waited until the exact moment the bus was being loaded with kids.  We ran from the church to the van (getting completely soaked) and drove in a steady downpour the entire way to Cathedral Caverns.

Mia, Kenzie, Ashlyn, and Abby

Loading the bus
     First we stopped at the Trading Post for an ice cream break.  When we first walked in we were confronted with about 25 deer heads hanging on the walls.  If it could be hunted, killed, and mounted, this place had one.  Everything from fish, to black bear!  The kids loved it.  After they ate and stretched their legs for a bit, we reloaded (still in the pouring rain) and went down to the cave.

Isaac, Jackson, and Max

Mia and Grace
     We had never been here, so it was exciting to find a new place not too far from home to explore.  This kind of thing is Jackson and Max's idea of the perfect outing, but not so much for Mia.  We had visited Ruby Falls just a few weeks earlier, so it was neat to compare the 2 caves.  This one was much more open, so we didn't feel nearly as claustrophobic. The temp outside was already cool from the storms, but they told us the cave usually stays around 60 degrees year round (which is perfect for me).  The opening to this cave is huge.  I believe they said it was 25 feet high and around 125 feet wide.  We kind of felt like we were being swallowed when we walked into it.  When we got really deep into it Lamar (our tour guide) turned out all the lights to show the kids how dark it really gets.  They were amazed, and some were scared to death.  We were there about an hour, then headed out, and back into the rain, to eat lunch and have a lesson.  This week Brother Alex has been talking to the kids about the 12 disciples.  Tuesday he told them the stories of Peter, James, John, and Andrew.  All the kids know about Jesus' disciples, but Bro. Alex made them seem a little more tangible, telling about their lives, their families, and their deaths. 

Jackson, Isaac, and Kenzie waiting to go in the cave

Cave entrance

Lamar, our guide

On the inside, looking out

I don't know what these gals were looking for, but in this weather they must have been panning for gold!

Jackson and Max

Grace and Mia off to explore
     Mia missed camp today, but tomorrow they are going to the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.  We have taken Jackson here a few times, but she has never been.  When I was little I really wanted to be an astronaut, so I've always loved going there.  It's not nearly glitzy enough for Mia, and she's already grumbling a little, but I think she will love it when she gets there.  I wanted to go with them tomorrow, but Everett has his check up and immunizations (boo) in the morning.  I know it's good for the kids to be without me sometimes too.  On a side note, I think I may submit the title of this post to Wheel of Fortune for a "Before and After".  Watch for it!

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Week 26

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Breaking in New Toys

     We took the plunge and bought a new minivan this weekend.  We had been talking about it for a while and everything just fell into place, so we are now the proud new owners (some prouder than others) of a Honda Odyssey.  So long, Old Blue, Hello . . . well, we haven't really named this one yet.  It's a version of red, which is very close to crimson, which just happens to be Jeremy's beloved Tide's color, so I think you can see where this is going.  Yes, we have already affixed our Alabama tag to the front.  I see some tailgating in our near future, even if it is in our driveway on game day!  Jeremy has a love of minivans (yes he drove one for a brief period in high school), so he is pumped.  He actually curled up with the owner's manual for several hours one night.  That's the most I've seen him read in ages!  Enough about my old lady, soccer mom mobile. 

     Saturday morning Jeremy, Pop, and the big 3 kids took their new fishing rods out to Pop's pond to see what they could catch.  What a good husband to remember to ask for the camera before they left!  Jeremy and Pop didn't even get to fish for the first hour or so because the kids were doing so well.  Mia actually caught a huge grass carp.  Jeremy said as soon as Parker saw it come out of the water he threw his pole down and ran for the hills!  Every time after that Parker would ask if he was going to "catch the big one".  They had a great time with all their new gear and came home around lunchtime.

Pop's pond

Getting started.  Notice Parker's stance.  Everything's a sword to this boy!

    In other news, our garden is starting to produce.  We have had rain almost everyday this past week, and our plants have almost doubled in size.  I can't wait until everything is ready to pick and eat.  Jeremy added some pumpkin seeds about a week ago, so we're hoping to have our own patch by October.

Houston, we have a squash!

     As much as we love the rain, we're hoping it will ease up a little this coming week.  Last week was the first week of the summer that we didn't have any plans, so the rain only inhibited out spontaneous urges to swim at Nana's, but Mia starts Day Camp at church on Tuesday, and they will go somewhere different every day.  If the weather will cooperate the boys and I will try to tag along on some of their adventures.  As the kids are getting older they are doing more things on their own, and it is KILLING me not to be there to snap pictures!  I pray, as always, that God will work in the hearts of these little ones as they venture out to wherever they may go this week. 
     June's as good as gone and our summer is going great!  Half of our "to do this Summer" list has been checked off, but we have many more adventures planned for July.  As school draws closer I am praying that all 3 kids will have the teacher they need, and kids that they can show Christ to in their classes.  Jackson already has his supply list for 4th grade.  I have it pinned on my cork board and I cringe every time I catch a glimpse of it as I walk past.  I hope the rest of our summer goes slower, but I have a sneaking suspicion that nothing will ever slow down again!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Update from the Camper

     The following is Jackson's story of his first time at camp. He obviously had a great time, but he was missed like crazy at home!  They left last Tuesday morning, and came home at lunchtime last Thursday.  He did have a migraine the first day, which made him a little homesick, but he made a quick recovery and enjoyed his trip.  As you will read he did not take a bath AT ALL, but that's what I had expected.  He said they swam, which is the equivalent of a bath for 9 year old boys.  I wish I had some pictures from camp, but I don't.  I snapped the one above right after we swung through the drive thru and got home (still before his post-camp scrub down).  He is already talking about next year!

     I had a great time at Kid's Camp this year.  My favorite thing was the war. We battled with flour, water balloons, mustard, and shaving cream.  We put flour in bags and threw them at each other and they would get all over us.  We threw water balloons at each other too.  We put mustard in a cup and slung it at each other.  We put shaving cream in our hands and ran into each other with it.  My best friend Dawson came with me and he did not like canoeing.  I liked it and went twice.  We canoed in the lake.  We also got to swim in the pool.  One time I left my towel at the cabin and I used my shirt to dry off.  At night I slept on the top of the bunk bed and Dawson slept on the bottom, but it was going to be the other way around.  The second night we went to the gym and played dodge ball.  I got one of the grown-ups out.  We had a lot of food.  Here's our menu: cereal, sausage, eggs, biscuits, pancakes, oj, tea, chicken, spaghetti, & tacos.  The second night at midnight Brother Alex woke us up with a bullhorn.  Then he went back downstairs.  Another guy told us to get our bathing suits on.  So, we all got our suits on and went outside, but instead we went out and ate ice cream.  I had vanilla with whipped cream, strawberry syrup, peanuts, and cherries.  3 people gave their testimonies.  When I got home I was starving so my mom took me to Zaxby's.  I also had to get a shower when I got home, because I took zero baths at camp!

He May be an Outdoorsman Yet . . .

     We have had a wonderful Father's Day weekend with all the dad's in our family.  We got started with our gift giving Saturday.  The kids all love to ride bikes, but Jeremy doesn't have one of his own. About a month ago we decided that a bike would be the perfect Father's Day gift for Jeremy.  Of course after we agreed on the gift I told the kids not to say anything to their dad.  The minute he walks through the door that night, Mia starts asking him what his favorite color bike is.  She's just like me.  Can't keep a secret in for long.  So, we let that die down and I didn't say anything else about it to the kids.  Jackson is the only one that knew about it ahead of time.  He's our vault.  I got the bike and hid it in my parent's garage until yesterday.  Just my luck, Matt and Jeremy found "the bike" a couple of days ago rummaging around in the garage, but neither of them knew whose it was.  While Jeremy was out yesterday I went down and got the bike and we put ribbons on it and rolled it to our driveway.  I called Jeremy when I thought he'd be getting close to home so we could be waiting on him to drive up and see his new prize.  The kids loved surprising him.  Or almost surprising him (since he had technically already seen it)!

     Now, if you know Jeremy then you know being outside with all the dirt and critters is not really his thing, but he does try hard to enjoy it.  Well, we are bound and determined to turn him into an outdoorsman.  I guess growing up going camping with my family, it never occurred to me that every family didn't do this.  Well, Jeremy did not grow up in the great outdoors.  For his second surprise I got him and the 3 big kids fishing rods.  We also got him a tackle box and a new hat.  He does love to fish, so that's a start!  The kids also made him some cards and Mia gave him a flashlight.  We grilled steaks at mom and dad's for lunch after church and everybody ate, swam, and had a great day.

     My dad (aka Pop) is every kid's favorite.  I love getting to see my kids spend time with him, and see him enjoy them as well.  He has some land not far from home that the kids all love to go fish and camp on.  In fact, Pop got lots of new camping goodies for Father's Day this year, so I see a trip in their near future. He was always the kind of dad that would really spend a lot of time with us when we were little, and that has carried on to our kids.  As a kid, I can remember swinging on the swing set in the backyard for hours with my dad, and now that's one of my kids favorite things to do with him!  I'm also proud to say that I married a man that loves to spend time with his kids.  Jeremy is always teaching them something new, or showing them how to do something.  As a father of mostly sons, he's wrapped around Mia's little finger.  She wants to be an artist, so luckily this is also one of her dad's talents that he can share with her.
     I am so blessed to have a dad and a husband to my children that are Godly examples of what men should be.  I can not imagine the burden that's placed on men to be the leader of the family.  I am also grateful that this is not a task taken lightly by the men in my family.  Growing up I didn't always appreciate my dad, but being a parent now, I am so thankful for him being faithful to follow God's plan.  I hope all of our children, but especially our sons, see God working through Jeremy to lead our family where He wants us to be.  Our children are also very lucky to be able to have lots of great granddads that they are able to get to know.  I pray that as our sons grow up that God would work in their hearts and lives, and that they in turn would listen to His plan for them.  Happy Father's Day to all the great dad's in my life!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Alabama Harvest

   One thing this Alabama weather is good for is growing veggies! This is our long, skinny garden, also known as "The Frog Trap".  We have (what seems like) millions of frogs in this garden and the kids are loving it.  Not a lot to say about it, just wanted to get some updated pics on the blog.





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Week 24

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kid's Camp

     I just dropped Jackson off at church for his first ever trip to Kid's Camp.  He has never stayed away from home longer than 1 night, and even that is usually just at a friend's or a grandparent's house.  His daddy seems to be having the hardest time (as we knew he would) ☺.  This is the first time he will have to be totally responsible for himself and his belongings, which makes me a little apprehensive, but it's good for him and for me.  Truthfully, if he can just remember to brush his teeth I will consider this trip a success!  They left around 7:30 this morning, travelling to Hargis Retreat in Chelsea, Alabama, and from the website it looks like Jackson's kind of place.  They will be hiking, swimming, fishing, camping, and basically getting completely filthy. As a surprise to the kids they are also stopping at Tree Top Family Adventures theme park on the way to camp.  He is very excited that his friend Dawson is getting to go too, as well as lots of kids in his class at church. I know he will have a great time, and I pray God will stir his heart to faith.  I can't wait to hear all about it when he gets home!

Jackson and John Michael

Jackson and buddies before loading up

Dawson and Jackson heading to the bus

♪Happy Birthday to Parker♫

     Parker is finally 4!  He has been waiting on this day for months.  For some reason his goal in life has been to turn "4" and now it's here.  It's hard to believe that when he came home from the hospital he was wearing preemie clothes.  Now he weighs as much as his 6 year old sister, and is almost as tall.  He is all boy, all the time.  He walks into a room ready to fight and wrestle with whoever will join him.  He reminds me daily to have FUN in this life.  Here are some of his favorite things as he turns a year older today.  Happy birthday crazy man!

Favorite color: Yellow

Favorite TV show: Power Rangers

Favorite thing to do: Play

Favorite Super Hero: Wolverine

What do you want to be when you grow up?: A Samurai Ranger cause then I'll have a sword

Favorite Food: Gummies & Donuts

Least favorite food: Chocolate

Favorite thing to do with Daddy: Play Mario

How do you feel now that you're 4?: Good

What do you want to do today?: Play Super Heros and Power Rangers and spend the night with Nana and eat donuts

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Parker's Super 4th Birthday Party

     Today we went to Forest Jumps to celebrate Parker turning 4.  His actual birthday is Tuesday, but he's been saying he's 4 for months now, so I guess it'll finally catch up with him next week!  He was back and forth on what kind of party he wanted.  First it was Super Hero Squad, then it was Power Rangers, then it was Super Mario Bros..  This went on for weeks, until it was finally time to mail invitations, and I finally pressured him into picking something.  It ended up being Mario.  As popular as Mario is in our house, he is not all that popular when it comes to party supplies, but I finally found a place that had plates and napkins.  I pasted together some pics from the internet to make his invitations, and we invited all the cousins.  I told him we could invite his Sunday school class, but he said he only wanted Isaac and Ezra.  For a while he said only boys could come, but then he said maybe me, Mia, and Maggie (who is his friend from the neighborhood), so that's who we invited! 
     We loaded up and left the house around 9:45 to be there at 10:00, which is when the party started.  Of course, I forgot the fruit & juice pouches, but luckily mom hadn't left yet so she picked them up and brought them.  Thank goodness she lives next door!  Forest Jumps is a building full of bouncy houses and slides, so we didn't do a lot of food.  For one thing, Parker isn't a cake fan.  He wanted donuts, so that's what we had.  I stacked a few up to put his candle in & they were actually a big hit.  We also had his other favorites: cheetos and fruit.  I did manage to find some Mario gummies (which Parker can't live without) so we scattered those around on the tables.
     The kids were all starving, so we had donut "cake" at 11:00 and then we opened presents.  Parker is in love with super heroes right now, so he got tons of actions figures.  Every time he would open a present he would squeal, "You gotta be kidding me!  I love this guy!"  It was so funny.  After presents they went back to bouncing and I think every kid was dripping with sweat by the time they left. 
     So now we're home, prying things out of boxes and playing Thor, Captain America, and Green Lantern.  Jackson and Everett are just as excited about Parker's gifts as he is.  Happy party day, Parker!

Jackson and Kenzie

Parker and Ethan

Ezra tired out

Popaw, Jackson, and Isaac

 Pop, Grandmommy, and Granddaddy

Parker's donut cake


Blowing out the candle

Everett has discovered juice pouches!

The loot

Maggie, Mia, and Parker opening presents