We Survived Another Year of Christmas Card-slash-New Year Card Pictures

dsc_0012It is that time of year again Christmas Card Picture time, as you all know it was once again Keith’s favorite way to spend an evening.  He loves getting the pictures taken.  He loves to plans out outfits, and shops for new clothes, he likes to organizes schedules, he makes deals with a friend to come take our pictures.  He works so hard to make this a reality for us.

Okay…
so in reality, yes he is awesome, but he just barely tolerates these pictures.  He smiles and plays along, he does not complain, at least I have never heard him complain.  That is why he is awesome.

Getting schedules together was almost more difficult than getting coordinating clothing for everyone.  Well, actually, now that I am thinking it was more difficult getting schedules together.  C works, O was away at college, we had to wait for her to get home, for C to be off work and for R to have a night with out activities.

I went through the kids closets and realized that if we went with the red/black theme than the boys were the only ones needing new clothes.  On black Friday, I went shopping.  Not super early I just did not even care that much, and I only went to one store!  Score for easy shopping, and sales!  Belks had just what I needed.  After literally an hour and burning up my phone battery trying to find shirts everyone would agree on, and in the correct sizes C walked in the store.  He was a huge help since I was really struggling.  Now we all coordinated but no one “matched.”

We met at a lake downtown for our pictures, if you have read all my Christmas card posts, than you will recognize this background for pictures.  This used to be the old paddle boat rental area, the boats are long gone, years ago the city began to revitalize the down town, this area is beautiful and much safer than when I was a teen.

dsc_0035We tried for the organized family look.
But the darn tree was just too awkward and spacing was off…dsc_0041We tried the album cover.
Which I was a fan of but everyone was worried that PS was going to fall…dsc_0001We went back to the gate with the Christmas banner
but you can see how that worked…

We laughed and the boys made fun of me, We tried and tried but just were not feeling it that night.   Thankfully the friend who took the pictures works with college age students, she was not annoyed by the big kids who could not stop messing around.

After the sun started to set and we were about ready to give up THIS is what we ended up with.  I love it!  dsc_0055 When we were done getting the shot little A started to cry and asked NOT to be turned upside down anymore.

We did it, we survived another year of Christmas Card Chaos.  We lived to tell our story, I cannot imagine what next year will be like.

Go hug your kids, and take a minute to plan a family picture.  It is likely you have not done one in a long time, and life is just too short to miss the opportunity to make another family memory, and get another family picture.
jen

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Hello, Is Anyone Out There?

Hello?
Hello, is anyone there?
Hello

Knock-Knock
Hey, I’m back…

Hello?
Anyone?

So I think I have been off blog for most of 2015.  Things happen, both planned and surprises for us.  Some were good, some not so good, but all point to God and His sovereign plan over our lives.  At times it is easy to trust God, and know that before time began He had a perfect plan for our lives and our family, while I like the things I feel are good I have to trust Him during the hard times. 11257675_10207543588894086_901037984_nThe 3 little girls and I took a road trip to go collect the man-child from college.  We were so good at the road trip that we took a 28 hour trip and turned it into 36 hours.  We found this peach orchard along the way.  It has an amazing playground and plenty of picnic area, along with a restaurant (try the peach milkshake or peach bread)11256528_10207543587534052_2034265109_nThis kid is home from college.  And due to some changes he will not be returning to that great college in Ky.  I wish he was going back, I advised him to go back…  But he is not going back, and right now he is not going anywhere.  He will be continuing his education some place I just don’t know where yet.  I am sure I will keep you posted, we all know I love that boy but he has GOT to go away to school.10364506_10207543590774133_750268405_nThis upside down kid is now a middle schooler in 8 more days.
Making changes faster than I can keep up.   11349028_10207543586694031_655761735_nChild #3 is now in braces.  I cannot believe how fast his mouth is changing.  He looks different already.  Much to O’s complaining, R has hardly had any mouth pain, except that his teeth have moved so much the wire has been clipped once and has to be clipped again before his appointment in a few weeks.11334710_10207543577933812_1398912597_nSomeone has been visited by the tooth fairy 3 times already.  How is it possible?!?!  She is changing and growing up right before my eyes.11351527_10207543574853735_583382095_nBig changes are coming for these two best buddies.  In the fall one begins her education, while the other completes her high school career.  I can promise that a lot more of us will be crying this year.  You all know I hate that kind of change!11182280_10205595550662103_891469623891840590_nThe littlest one is now walking, she can walk easily behind the couch but gets stuck when she wants to turn her head.  11329705_10207544067746057_787907084_nI can’t believe how big she is getting.  IMG_2673(Can you see the biggest change we are experiencing?)
In a day or so I will update the big change.

What about you?  How have things changed this year?

Go hug your kids, they need your love
jen

Pomp And Circumstance

It happened.
We have a graduate, I have pictures to prove it.
WARNING: Picture overload ahead.
Notice that I have no pictures of the graduate and his parents.  You know the ones who had many sleepless nights, interesting conversations with his teachers, and threats of dire punishment if he did not at least make an attempt to work to his potential.  How I have no pictures of the 3 of us I will never know.  I am hopeful that someone somewhere has a picture of the 3 of us.

No matter how I tried to avoid the inevitable, time marched on and the man-child marched to Pomp and Circumstance.IMG_0021Chil-laxing before the ceremony.IMG_1339Keith has done the welcoming and opening prayer for the past 9 years.
It was kind of different when it is your own child. Many people said they heard a catch in his voice.IMG_1354One of C’s good friends was across the aisle from me.
IMG_1358One last lesson.  Chosen by the class, he delivered one last lesson.10402833_10202661222944542_6913061250129936727_nOn his way to collect honor roll award.IMG_1364Lining up for diplomas.  10406944_10154250755915232_2983695069347511575_nA hug from his dad.IMG_1368This is how it looks when your eyes are filled with tears.10367602_10154250757815232_8657659414630601770_nAnd just like that he is an alum.IMG_1387Pictures with his principal and the headmaster.IMG_1402Pictures with his grandma, and English teacher.IMG_1397Pictures with his other grandma.IMG_1386Pictures with his dad and grandpa. IMG_1405Pictures with PS.IMG_1395Pictures with O.IMG_1394We told C he had to let R hug him.  R was funny he wanted to know for how long, we told him 5 seconds,  He counted.IMG_1399Favorite Sister.IMG_1408Pictures with sweet A.IMG_1415And Pictures with J.

Just like that it was over.
We are now the proud parents of a high school graduate and a college student.

I’m going to say it again.  Hug your kids because when you blink it is over.
jen

Finding Balance During Graduation

Graduation consumed our minds and thoughts for the last month.  We made plans or canceled plans according to graduation.  We cleaned house, planned meals and shopping according to that little HUGE event in our lives.  I could not RSVP to a party E was invited to until the week of the party, because of the unknown.  We are now a week out from graduation, I am quite surprised to see how we have all survived.  The house has again fallen apart, I have decorations stacked ready to return, and the thank you cards are almost all written {by the man-child without too much prodding}  Of course it helps that I would not let him deposit the $ or spend the gift cards until he wrote out the thank-you…

Quick Question?  If you give a room or even a closet a good cleaning do your kids instantly gravitate to that clean area and set up camp to play there?  Seriously EVERY TIME at our house,  if I give a good cleaning to anything (desk, laundry room, closet, etc.) the little kids decide that is the best place to play in.  Why is that?  I gave the laundry room a deep cleaning, we don’t have a garage or basement so all the junk gets shoved into the laundry room until it comes to a danger zone trying to get around games, boxes and tools.  I pulled everything out, cleaned up/threw out/put away everything, an hour later I had 2 little kids happily playing in there.

Here is a short view of recent events.  Yes most of them could have been blogged about individually,  BUT there is the computer issues…  So thankful that Keith is letting me use his computer.  Although I am a bit nervous that I am going to break this one too.

IMG_1054C was nominated, but not a winner of a volunteer community service award.  He was nominated in the Technology Category.  {Can I brag for a minute on that man-child?  He has set the school record for community service hours, at a grand total of 1,336 hours.  Yes you read that right.  They begin counting the hours after the completion of 8th grade.  That is a lot of time he has given to serve others.} IMG_1058We went and registered for baby things for baby girl “Tallulah”  {how does that work?  I’m still trying out nick names for baby girl}  Yes we were crying.  This is so happening and we are so ready!IMG_1059The Art Show at school was a huge success E with her mixed-media cow.IMG_1060J and his flowers in a vase still life.IMG_1069A wet and hot field trip to a natural spring this is by far one of my favorite field trips although that day we had something else happening in the evening so we left as soon as possible.IMG_1078This kid was nominated for American Legion Award and won.  We are so proud of him,  here he is with one of his friends who also won.IMG_1080Ballet finished up for the year, we decided with graduation and the chaos of the month we would not be in the recital.  IMG_1086The very last choir concert, I cannot believe that was the last concert I will hear these seniors.  IMG_1110PS enjoyed the concert, how sweet is she!IMG_1130Sad and happy after the last concert. IMG_1166Awards ceremonies.
We are so proud of how hard the kids work, and how much effort they put in to their classes.
R was up on stage quite a few times.  He is a hard worker and it shows!IMG_1172Highest honor roll for that girl!  She would accept nothing less.IMG_1179Someone is 5 months old now!IMG_1184Popsicle at the pool.
Both E and J had their class parties at the city pool.
These are our favorite class parties!  No prep work, just bring the sun screen.IMG_1193I did not count, but J must have jumped a million times.  IMG_0002These boys love that baby!IMG_1329J and 2 of his friends did a song/dance routine during the 4th grade talent show.  They were very funny, I do not know the song, something about being men and underwear?  and who knows?  but they had fun and came in 3rd place.IMG_1417One last awards ceremony.  Honor roll for J, proud of that boy!IMG_1422Someone could not nap because she wanted to pick up the design on her basket bedding.  She worked and worked at it until she finally fell asleep.  {Don’t worry I moved the pink stripe animal and lambie before she was sound asleep.}IMG_1225We are very sad to see this family go.  Mrs F was C’s 5th grade teacher, O and R both had her for history.  Mr F has been a volunteer in our school library since his retirement.  But Mrs F and this little girl, have a sweet bond, and they are moving.  Moving up to be with their children and grand children.  We are so very sad.  E has loved going to her office to visit this year, E has studied spelling words or Bible verse with her this year.  When we spent those long days and nights in the NICU they fixed meals for us and made lunches for J and E, continuing on even after we were released.  She has loved on my kids and listened and offered advice.  I am not happy about their move, and E cried herself to sleep when she found out.  Purely selfish on our part, that we want them here and not with family.  The only goodness {for us} they are right on route for our trips to see C in college so we will have a nice place to sleep when we get tired.

Wow that was a busy last month.  I’m glad for summer vacation to sit and relax.  There are a few kids begging me to take them to the library, C has 2 jobs that he has interviewed with and is waiting for an offer from either or both of them, O is working part-time for maintenance, the little kids are at music camp.  While I am taking care of a very sick baby.

What about you was your last month super busy?  Do you notice the kids gravitate towards a newly clean zone?  I will admit I do keep looking at my laundry room it looks so good now!

go hug your kids because when you turn around summer vacation will be over.
jen

Welcome to My Boring Life

Things have settled down to the boring routine of school.

Don’t get me wrong I love my boring life.

I love routine, I do wish that routine was later in the morning, why can’t school start at 9am?  I think I would like that!

As I was saying I love my boring life routine.

The biggest excitement for me right now is trying to list the boxes and boxes and boxes {I wish I was kidding but right now I have 9 boxes and still have so many containers to sort through} and boxes of outgrown clothing from the kids for the Just Between Friends Consignment sale.  If you have one in your area you really should check it out.  Last spring Ellen and I went to the consignment sale.  She snatched up a beautiful Moses basket with pink toile printed bumper, sheet and blanket for a great deal, I was able to get a few nice boutique things for a great price too!  Anyway as we were leaving we decided that it was just up my alley, I had done Ebay and loved it.  But honestly I just don’t have time for it right now.  I understand how Ebay works and this is similar.  You chose the things you want to sell, what ever name brand or style you have, you price it using their website so the price tag has a bar code on it, print the tags, pin the tags, then you hang it up and you drop it off.  Could not be easier.  The consignor makes 60/40 but if you work the event for at least 8 hours then you split with the JBS 70/30 and I checked Ellen O and I are all working for 4 hours to reach the 8 hour split and making it 12 hours so one of us can go in early and shop.  Ellen can also go in early for being an expecting first time mom and {remember the adoption, still praying and waiting for a birth mom to choose us!!!} and they have special hours for teachers.  The nice thing is during the special hours unless you are wearing your child, they are not invited.  nice huh?

Here is a little more from my boring life over the last month…IMG_1352We enjoyed one last Chick Fil A lunch before school started IMG_1146Loved the relaxing time of our vacation.  I LOVED the funny book from a friend!  I think I need to go back to the beach!IMG_1190The beach was so relaxing that C fell asleep, check out sleeping beauty.  Sadly when I woke him he dropped his sunglasses in the water and they were gone to us for good but I hear Nemo’s dad looks great in them.IMG_1018Shoe shopping…IMG_1290Do NOT take these 2 boys shopping with you for maternity clothes…  Trust me it is more work than help!IMG_1164Who needs a baby gate or play yard, just stick the child in a pile of floats.IMG_1228Little A is sure this looks just like Peter Pan {I don’t see it, do you?}DSCN0792After 500 jumps in the pool and being thrown dozens of times he still had energy.  It is almost as though the activity gives him more energy.DSCN0794She can now swim the width of the pool under water!  We are all excited!!IMG_1348This was our practice get up for school days.  She was not really happy or willing to talk to people.  But she was up.

So there you have it a bit of our boring in our life.  I am thankful for the calm before the storm.  I am thankful for the evenings with the family.  I am thankful for my boring life.

I know it will change soon, I have been filling our scholarship application stuff for C, little A goes back to ballet next week, E wants to take up tap, and I will begin working on the set for Peter Pan in a week.  {Right now they are in the design stage I told them I could work for the month of September that the dr cleared me to help out so they need to get it built fast}  The school year has started so things are picking up meetings and activities and games.

What about you?  Is it all calm and boring for you right now or is this your busy season?
Go hug your kids, life is just too short to not tell someone you love them.
jen

Beach Pictures Part 2

So I know that my few loyal readers are anxious to see the finished product of our beach pictures.  I am sure the 7 readers have been checking already to see if I got them posted.  Ta~Da I did it!  Actually from home, since the condo internet was spotty and preferred to be fast when we were at the pool or beach and slower in the evening when we were trying to get online.  Be ready for picture overload.  The kids really were great for the picture, a few had picture ideas that we were willing to try, and now I have plenty to choose from to hang in my house.  Just have to wait for a good {really good} large picture coupon!

DSCN0845We were able to get a few great whole family ones.

DSCN1026Little A writing her letter in the sand.DSCN0886E was absolutely beautiful in her dress.DSCN0896Such a cutie pie boy!  J loved getting his picture taken.DSCN0899R has grown into such a wonderful helper!  He is getting quite funny and is changing into a teen before my eyes.DSCN0907She is so pretty inside and out!DSCN0901I cannot believe he is going to be a senior in just a few days.DSCN0964J and ADSCN0969R and EDSCN0972C and O, seriously this was the best I could do with the 2 of them…DSCN1042The little girls.DSCN0868The FamilyDSCN0920I love this pose, O was worried we would do height order not age order…DSCN1052Our Family

One last picture I promise…DSCN1058Keith and his baby girl.

So there you have it, beach pictures were a success!  {almost, Ellen forgot to grab her shirt that she was going to wear so we did not do a huge family picture, which means now we have to be creative for one of our gifts for my mom for Christmas, so not a complete success but close}

The kids are hopeful that this will be our Christmas Card Picture, we’ll see.  If my sister gets her baby then we will NEED to do another picture, but I am sure that my kids will gladly take more pictures as long as each child gets a turn holding baby girl.  Keep praying for the birth mom who has such a hard choice to make, Ellen has the room ready, the crib is up and set, the walls are painted, car seat is washed and sitting waiting, the pictures ready to be hung, and her closet is full.  Today she bought the cutest shoes for her to wear.  We know that God’s timing is perfect so we will wait.  So, again I ask you, if you hear of a young woman {or old we don’t care} who is making the choice to give up her baby please mention Ellen, send her to the blog, and keep praying!  Mostly keep praying!

What about you were family pictures torture for you or were they enjoyable?
Go hug your kids and stop to listen to someone you love.  We are reminded daily that life is just too short, stop and breath and love.
jen

Beach Pictures Part 1

So once again I tortured my family.
We choose coordinating outfits, E was able to use the dress I purchased for her last year {before TS Debby ruined our plans}  I needed to purchase a shirt for me and for R.  He needed a shirt and actually so did I.

In order to get the best pictures I made sure they were all properly fed yummy cheese, meat and crackers.  Everyone was hydrated and everyone was given the lecture.  {2 years ago I took my camera, my sister took hers,  We went out, no one was willing to cooperate, and my camera had issues at the beginning (fog) we only were able to snap a few pictures and most of them were terrible, attitudes were rotten and I was more than irritated.  I don’t ask for much so when I do I expect respect.   There was not a single picture good enough in that group to frame up for our mantle, which meant that baby A would still not make it in a beach picture for the wall because they convinced me the year before not to take a family picture.}

We had a great time, everyone was cheerful, joyful and a little silly.  The most difficult one was little A but since she is 3 we can excuse the wandering eyes during pictures.  She stood where she was told, but had a hard time staying focused.  DSCN0833The very first picture, we realized that keeping her still might be a problem.DSCN0853Little A doing “model hands”  I don’t actually know what that means, it is just what she said.DSCN0857Photo Bomb by all the kids {C is under our legs…}DSCN0858Walking like a model.DSCN0875I’m not even sure…DSCN0879Realized that I have to schedule his Senior Pictures when we get home…DSCN0884“Dad can you stand like this with me?”DSCN0909Duck FaceDSCN0961Model posesDSCN0981I don’t even know what was so funny but we were laughing so hard!DSCN1003R “get a picture of everyone scratching my back”  I think he just needed to be scratched his back is so itchy still.DSCN1013In-between picture ideasDSCN1038Daddy’s girlDSCN1048His first loyalty was to his Aunt.  He could not get enough of her when he was little.DSCN1049Our final pose.

So there it is, the between shots.  If I can get online again tomorrow {the condo internet is exceptionally slow…}  I will post the “good” pictures of our photo shoot.

What about you?  Did you attempt a family photo shoot this summer?  Was it a bust or a success?

Unfortunately for the family we will have to do this all again in a few months for our Christmas Card Picture.  {you know how very much they love getting it taken}

Go hug your kids and look through old family photos and share a story or two.
jen