Wonderful Weekend!

This past weekend was a whirlwind!  On Friday, Mark’s mom and her husband came to stay and help with the babies while we worked at packing up the last of the non-essentials {which some things, incidentally, may have been underestimated when thrown into the “non-essential” category creating a bit of a quagmire… hello, bowls??}.

Jake had all of his Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat performances this weekend, too.  Mark and I went out to dinner on Friday night ALONE to celebrate our 19th anniversary that kind of snuck up on us amidst all the boxes.  The actual date was a week and a half before, but beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to childcare.  After dinner, we went to Jake’s opening show and it was IN-CRED-IBLE.   I just can’t get over how much talent is stuffed into this little town and how it’s shared with it’s young people who also display awesome ability.  And I’m not just saying that because my kid was in it. ;)  I really hope we can find something comparable in Charleston.

Here are a few pics of Jake as Joseph’s guard:

 

We mostly spent Saturday packing and wrapping up loose ends before Mark left early Sunday morning.  It was tough to see him go knowing that it would be weeks before we’d see him again, but we know it’s a good thing.  So when we heard through a little birdie that one of our favorite kids was turning 18, we decided to throw our attention into hosting a spontaneous birthday party.  That night.  So we all got busy.

Honestly, as crazy as it is, this is how we work best.  If we plan something for weeks, it always winds up stressful and nuts, but if one of us looks at the other and says “Hey!  Let’s do this crazy big thing and let’s do it RIGHT NOW!”, it just somehow works and it works so much better.  I think I’m an overthinker and when we do something spur of the moment, I don’t have time to *think* it to death.  We’ve done full-on weekend vacations this way, and they are always the best ones!

Anyhow, we called up all of Ty’s class and told them of our idea, and just like the awesome kids they are, they all showed up except one who was sick and very unhappy about missing.  PJ was surprised {for the second time that day since the drama team surprised him with a big cookie cake there} and had a great time.  We had pizza and chips and then birthday cake:

Afterward, the kids all just hung out by the fire and made s’mores until well after dark.

I even caught some brotherly love on camera.  I’m happy to have proof that they’re actually best friends! {Please know that the boy in the front is not really sporting a 5 o’clock shadow; it was his stage make-up.. ha!}

It was such a good time and a great weekend overall!   God has blessed us in this little town in Mississippi, and we are grateful.

In a Cabin in the Woods

As I mentioned in the previous post,  we had Spring Break last week so we drove to Alabama, to a beautiful state park there, and plunked down in a cabin for 4 days.  It was wonderful!

The cabin was way back in the woods on a lovely lake aptly named Tranquility.  From the moment we threw off our bags, the big kids grabbed the life jackets and oars and were off in the provided boats {Oh look! It’s the elusive Ty right there in the front!  The 16 year old really does exist ;) }.

 

While I unpacked and organized the cabin, little Miss Priss quickly aquainted herself with the non-childproofed kitchen:

There was much banging and stirring:

Carah even took a break for a second to see what all the fuss was about:

But quickly decided that it wasn’t worth looking away from her enthralling socks-o-many colors.

The entire week was spent with many friends which resulted in epic nautical battles involving pinecone bombs and many threats of destruction.  Good times. :)

 

 

 

Somehow, I managed to miss pictures of all the playground escapades, and the whole BMX track joviality, but I know they had a complete blast as every single kid that showed up clean left tired and dirty.  That’s the best way to gauge a successful day of vacationing in my opinion.

Meanwhile, I had plenty of loving arms to help hold babies.  Caroline held Carah which saved my life a LOT throughout the week. {Even if I did yell her name and make her look right into the sun when snapping this pic. Hahaha!!}

And the Isa-whisperer, Miss DonDee:

She wouldn’t even go to Jake when she was holding her, which is completely unprecedented.   We even got to go to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants before we left.  Here’s a shot of a motley crew indeed.

It seems like only yesterday that the majority of them were in high chairs!  It was so much fun getting to visit with so many of our friends!

The last morning that we were there, after we packed up, we went to the Petting Zoo before we got on the road home.  Andrew loved the goats, but as soon as we put Isa down one of them saw a head full of little girl hair that was ripe for the munching.  Needless to say, Isa wasn’t a fan after that.

It was a such relaxing and enjoyable Spring Break.  We are so glad that we had the opportunity to do all that we did.   This week, we head right back into “life” full-force and that is good, too.

Only 2 more days until Spring is officially here!

Babies, Babies Everywhere!

Last week was Spring Break in our neck of the woods, so on a whim {the way I work best!}, I made reservations for a beautiful cabin in Alabama to spend the week.  We had a fantastic time!  There was no phone, internet or any of the other regular distractions of life; just us, beautiful surroundings and lots of friends.  The women mostly just hung out in the cabin, munched on cookies, drank coffee, fed and changed babies, and talked about everything under the big old sun while the bigger children frolicked on the lake and in the woods.  I will post about the trip as a whole next, but for right now, I had to show you all of the wee ones that made this get-away so much fun.

This is Griffin and Carah:

His mama, Heidi, and I did our whole pregnancies together this time.  I found out one year ago yesterday that we were expecting again, and about a week later, she found out she was, too.  It was so much fun to have a belly buddy and good friend right there in the exact same stage, dealing with all the ailments from morning sickness all the way to unproductive contractions.  Now, we’ve got these two precious ones to show for it.  They were born exactly a week apart in November.

Next up are the THREE Amigos {I told you there were babies everywhere!}!  This is Elyssa, Griffin and Carah.  Elyssa came on the scene right after Christmas to my dear friend, Tonya.  We got the girls together last weekend, but I completely forgot to snap pictures of that.  Aren’t they just the sweetest??

Here is one that had us all laughing our heads off because Carah just popped her thumb into Griffin’s mouth and he totally went with it.   It’s like she’s saying “So sorry about my mama, brother.  She’s a little cwazy with that black, snappy thing.  Here, try this… hopefully she’ll be done soon:D

My sweet little Isa-girl was on the scene, too.

She didn’t quite know what to make of things at first, but she had a great time slowly swinging out on the front porch and heading to the playground with Julianna.  Here she is checking out the big kids on the boat right after we arrrived:

As I mentioned above, we found out one year ago, right here at St. Patrick’s Day, that we were expecting our 6th little one.  We were sooo shocked, but so happy all the same.  I’ve been waiting for a whole year to take this picture of my Irish Twins.  I love these little sweeties so much!

I’m so grateful for unexpected blessings - from spur-of-the-moment camping trips to great big ones- like new babies.  This one turned 4 months old on the day we arrived at camp.  My, how time flies!

I’ll get a post up in the next day or so with more pics of the big kids, but for now, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Sundays

My Facebook status today is “I love Sundays.  Love ‘em!”, and I really do mean that.  From the moment I wake up on Sunday mornings, things are just different.  Generally, I am the first one to rise and shine here in the Westie abode, and I really like to take that time to sip my coffee and turn on the television to listen a good sermon in an effort to prepare my heart for the day.  I will usually poke around the internet for greetings from those excited to fellowship with the Lord and other brothers and sisters, too, as the Crew wakes up and gets moving.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bliss.   Inevitably, there will be lost shoes, mismatched or wrinkled clothes 5 minutes before we are to walk out the door, or any other form of chaos that you could conjure up in your imagination that follows a big family trying to make it to church intact.  But, there is a sweet feeling that I think God gives to His children, despite all of that, knowing that we are about to enter into the sacred obedience of corporate worship.

I love my church family.  There is nothing more beautiful than being able to walk into a place knowing that you are yours are welcomed, needed, and treasured as part of that body.  It’s the way He intended it, afterall.  I love concentrating in prayer for brothers and sisters in Christ without the distractions of everyday life.  I love listening to the Word of God being taught and voices being lifted for His glory and honor.  I love watching the children from the oldest to the tiniest knowing that they are part of our extended Covenant family and that they are all blessings.

I love worshipping.  I love singing the songs that echo what my heart feels with the well-written words (even if we are called “the frozen chosen”, we still worship… ;) ).  I love learning something new from the living and active Word of God.  I love to feel the affirmation of what He has already been knitting within my heart, and I even love the sting of conviction because I know that it is only handed down because He loves me too much to leave me wallowing in something so foul as sin.  I love church.

Oftentimes, after the service, we will share a meal with various friends, where we linger over conversation that ranges from the very deep to the silly and frivolous, but it is nevertheless, highly treasured.  There is something so special about breaking bread with God’s people.

 Eventually, this happens:

And in stark contrast, this:

 But, I love all of that.  We mostly wind up our Sabbath Day by going right back to where we started:  church.  The evening service is so much more casual in appearance, but deeply steeped in fervent, unorchestrated, Spirit-led prayer.  Once it’s over, you will find the children running amuck outside and the adults taking in that last little breath of relaxation before the week begins again.

Tonight, after evening church, we are heading to our friend’s home for s’mores and flashlight tag.  Things went just a little differently than the norm here today because Mark and the boys were camping this weekend with the Scouts, so it was just the younger 2 and me that made it to the morning service.  It has been an afternoon of stinky camp laundry and chilling out while listening to the plethora of stories after such an eventful weekend, but I am still so thankful, nonetheless.  I imagine they will all sleep WELL tonight.. haha!

If you all are interested in participating in the 31 Days of… blog carnival, it’s not too late!  Here’s the link, and seriously, check out some of the entries.  They are really informative!  Happy Sunday, friends.

Hello, Internet Provider? Yeah.. You’re Late

There comes a point when you just have to laugh. Which is exactly what I’m doing as I sit here typing this post with my thumbs. :D
My internet is still not hooked up at the new house, so I’m using my phone to let you know that we did, indeed, survive the move (barely.. haha.. just kidding.. it was as smooth as it could have been).
I did take some pictures today that I want to post, but my phone won’t do uploads on here. Maybe it knows that blogging from one’s phone should be kept to a minimum. Smart phone. ;)
Alright.. I must be short and sweet because these boxes aren’t unpacking themselves.

Lovely Weekend

Spring is in the air here in Mississippi and I couldn’t be happier!  The doldrums of winter are thankfully tucking themselves away in exchange for blooming tulips and budding trees.  I had my windows wide open all day today as the Crew played themselves out in the warm air for much of the afternoon.  And even though I’m not a fan of “spring forward” on the first morning that  it’s active, I’m always happy when the evening takes it sweet old time before giving way to the stars.

We’ve had a busy weekend.  It started by having  dinner with some out of town family on Friday night that buzzed up from the coast to see us.  We were able to take them over to the house that we will soon be living in to show them around.  We are so excited to move in!  Only 2 more weeks!  Although, I have got to say that apartment living is nowhere near as hard as I thought it might be with a family of our size.  It’s actually been kind of nice.

We woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to head over to Alabama where we met my sweet, sweet brother and his precious family (they live in South Carolina) to help my mom move into a home that’s closer to her church and work.  We had such a great time together.  After we all worked hard unloading the moving truck, the guys and Nana went to return it and go to Lowes for some odds and ends while all of the girls got busy unpacking the essentials.  It was so sweet to have my neices and my daughter all pitch in to set up the kitchen for their grandmother.  The beauty of it didn’t fall on me unnoticed.  Family.  It’s where it all comes back to in the end.  It’s what matters most despite all of the dysfunction (and believe me, I’ve got some authority here) because God himself gave us to each other.

 After a nice dinner at a yummy barbeque place, we were back on the road to Mississippi where we all fell into bed only to be awoken by an alarm clock that was obnoxiously squawking one hour too early.  :)   Bring on the Sunday.  I’m not going to lie, it was tempting to turn on the t.v. and just “watch worship” today, but I just knew I’d regret it later, so I cajoled the reluctant Crew out of their beds and in about 45 minutes we were sitting in the van.

I love our new little church.  I really need to say that.  God has blessed us so much with a caring, wonderful, and loving church family already and it just fills my heart with joy.  We seemed to simply walk right into this place and it felt like home.   So many people are just expecting to help when we move because that’s what they do.  We didn’t even have to ask.  And I love it.  We love it.   God is so good.  We went out to eat at a local Mexican place with some of our friends right after the service and had such a great time of relaxed fellowship on this Sabbath.   Christ’s family.  It’s also what matters most.  Despite the dysfunction (and I’ve got some authority to speak here, too) God gave himself for each of us.  And it’s important to him that we do all that we can to love each other.

Well, now that the Crew is back in and all cleaned up, and I can hardly type two words without hearing “mama!”, I suppose I should wrap up this post.  This week is Spring Break for so many in our area, but not us!  :)   It’s not a big deal though, because we’ll be taking some time off during the move so “it’ll all come out in the wash” as my Grandma used to say.  Haha!! 

 Hope all of you had a nice weekend, too.

Cookie Decorating Party

Well, we have been battling this crazy stomach virus for a week now, and it is a slow mover, to be sure.  So, while Mark was lying in bed wishing for death today, the kids and I went to a new friends’ home for some FUN cookie making and much needed fellowship (don’t worry, they had full disclosure and asked us to please come anyway even though I was totally prepared to stay home with our germs like a good and responsible girl.. ha!). 

The boys all played h-a-r-d outside on this 70* day (can you believe it?  It’s been SO COLD here all week, but today was like a blessed break.  I was beyond THRILLED that these warm temps fell on the day that we had this scheduled…).  It was so good for them to just get out and do what boys do.

Meanwhile, after lunch, the girls got busy rolling out sugar cookie dough:

Then, while enjoying the great Christmas music, they searched through all of cookie cutters to come up with the ones that they liked best and began to strategically position them:

Once they were all cut out and put into the oven, we all took a small break to eat some of the wonderful little goodies that my friend, Jennie, had put out and then we just chatted.   Isn’t that what women do best?  :)

Speaking of Jennie, last night, she made up brownies for each of the girls using a cake form which was in the shape of a house (that she bought very inexpensively at Walmart).  It was instead of a full-blown gingerbread house kit, which I thought was brilliant!  It was waaaay cheaper to make and much easier to handle because there was no need to assemble anything, AND much better tasting, in my opinion.  We just used canned, white  frosting, and each of the Moms brought different kinds of sprinkles and candies for them to decorate with:

For the cookies, we used the same frosting, only divided and colored with red and green food coloring:

It was such a nice time for all of us, and a wonderful idea for our girls.  Having a cookie decorating party like this right before Christmas is something that I’d love to see happen every year.  

I hope all of you are doing fun things this Christmas season, too!  Ours has been pretty low-key, but it’s nice, because without all of the usual hustle and bustle, I’ve been able to really enjoy this family and JESUS.  I’ve watched The Nativity Story and had a chance to really worship the true reason for the season this year.  I’m praying right this minute that each of you get a chance to do that too, friends, because after all, it’s all about Him anyway, right?

Have a great weekend!

A Reflection of 2010

So, I know that I’ve been very much convicted to back off of FB somewhat, and that still stands (although I have reactivated my account).  But, I will say that after a year of many, many changes for our family, it was sweet, and sometimes funny to look over the things that I wrote about during the course of our regular days.

It’s just life.  Ups and downs, but still full of hope and JOY.  God is so good to us and even though most everything has changed over the course of one year, we are still extremely blessed people.

Well, The Conversation Was Good Anyway…

For continuity’s sake after yesterday’s post, and in an effort to always keep it real (because to pretend otherwise would be so NOT me), I offer you, my cheesesticks.

(Please forgive the wretched quality of this picture)

We had some precious friends drive over from Alabama last weekend to spend the day with us here in Mississippi.  They were greeted with a room filled with enough smoke to choke a donkey and plenty of happy hugs.  I quickly told them that I was sorry that things were so smokey and that it must have been something relentless on the burner while I was making the pasta. 

About 5 minutes later, Mark was looking at the table where the food was and he asked me where the cheesesticks were. I gasped (which, looking back, was a rather dumb move because I easily could have DIED due to smoke inhalation), and whipped open the oven where the poor, forgotten cheesesticks had been baking into a nice charcoal for about an hour.

The hostess with the mostest, baby. ;)

So, who’s up for dinner at the Westovers? We’d love to have you; I just can’t promise you won’t leave without contracting pluresy.

Mourn With Those Who Mourn

I had planned to get on here this morning and post all about a great science kit that I found with pictures and everything, but it will have to wait. 

Because, I found out last night that my friend, Leanne, lost one of her beloved twins at 21 weeks gestation last night, and my heart just can’t post anything else.

This internet is a crazy place and it has some crazy people.  But, over the years, it has proven to be a huge blessing to me despite the occasional nutcase.  I have interacted with some wonderful ladies on a continual basis from all over the USA and even Canada, England and Australia over the years, and as a result, I have come to love and truly consider some of them to be my friends.  

I’ve emailed, messaged and even chatted on the phone apart from the daily status updates and blog posts enough that I know when things like births and deaths and even clogged drains happen.  So, when news such as that which has swept the rug out from under my dear friend who lives all the way on the opposite side of the country from me overtakes her, it hurts.  It breaks my heart and makes me cry just like I would if she were down the road.

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to interact with your “in real life” people.  VERY important.  I do that, believe me (and if you don’t.. well, please for the love, shut down this old box and go live your life), but for whatever weird, 21 century reason, God has allowed interaction with people from places that I will probably never see  and I am SO VERY blessed for it.

Please, please, please pray for Leanne.  She lost another precious baby girl at 7 months gestation back in 2004 so this is an excruciating road that she will have to walk again.  She will have to continue to carry both babies to term for the safety of sweet little Pennie, who needs that time to grow.  Pray for the rest of this pregnancy and for all the emotional ups and downs that will accompany it.  And, of course, please lift up the rest of the family;  Leanne’s husband and all of her precious children.