Many people have said to me, "What a pity you had such a big family to raise. Think of the novels and the short stories and the poems you never had the time to write because of that." And I looked at my children and I said, "These are my poems. These are my short stories."- Olga Masters

Friday, December 20, 2013

To love somebody

It's Christmas crazy right now. - Too much to even blog about and haven't snapped one picture. I'm sure hoping to dust off the camera  and do a better job in the next few days because it's about to get very special and real. Not that all the crazy isn't special - and well,....... it's certainly real.

But it's sort of a blur and I'm not sure I could even remember enough to type a story. I will say - School is out. (CUE ANGEL CHOIR - ENOUGH SAID)

We wrapped up at the beginning of the week and Big Guy is two hours out of his last exam. And my shoulders are starting to relaX.

This weekend felt like the official kick off of our family Christmas season ( a whole 5 days before Christmas) when we had a house full of people, loud kids, way more dough and sugar than should be legal, Christmas movies past all the parent's bedtimes, The Singing Christmas Tree tradition (starring our own Sweet Girl), some drive-by lights, more coffee than sleep, and the last of the shopping.

It's all good stuff from here. The fun part. Where the weary world (and weary moms) rejoice at last. - More time to enjoy the people around us that God has given. More time to remember and reflect on Christ and the new life we have in Him because of that first Christmas.

And those dear ones we call family~ more time to look into their eyes and just listen and laugh, and read two extra books at bedtime, and squeeze necks and chubby cheeks a little more. And prepare for the cousin extravaganza of a lifetime x2.

We are so blessed and I will record it all one way or another.

In the meantime - I got a chuckle out of this sweet video. And then a few tears. It's time for Christmas ya'll.

Merry Christmas from our team to yours!!!!

L-R (MJ - 3, Sweet Girl 13, Big Guy 15, Baby Girl 7, Little Man 11)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Running here, there and a Pumpkin Run

We couldn't have asked for a better day for the annual Pumpkin Run to benefit LeBonheur Childrens' hospital in Memphis. We've done this 5k off and on for a number of years and it's always a family favorite. What's not to love about face painting, bounce houses, krispy kreme donuts and all the gatorade you can drink..... and the running of course. 

We were pretty pumped that Gigi and all the cousins could hang out for the day. Maddie-Cakes ran her first 5K with Sweet Girl and I think she may be hooked. Those long legs make it look easy - but we know it was hard work and boy were we proud of her great finish!. Way to make Aunt Jo look like a loser!

This year they offered a 400 meter kids run and so all the littles could get involved. Hubs is the official pre-race warm up coach. I honestly cannot imagine a more fitting title for my man's personality. He's always warming the kids up for something. 

And I do believe he is demonstrating how one must fight for their position once the starting gun goes off . Look at Silas craning his neck to see what in the world he's gotten himself into. Purple arrow: MJ - Yellow arrow: Silas (aka Puma Cat)

 They are 3. Partners in everything funny and criminal.

Baby Girl didn't waste anytime jumping out with the boys. She's been a spectator on the sidelines of enough races to know that a short race is won at the starting line.  

And I could be wrong - but I think MJ's training regimen was geared toward more of a 100m distance rather than 400 - because that's about the time she started running out of gas. 

Nobody remembered to prepare Silas that the start of the race begins with a loud gun blast, followed by children screaming and running frantically. He was not amused. And not sure he was going to chase after them. But Uncle Energizer Bunny somehow won him over.

She wasn't going to let anybody wearing "toe-shoes" beat her and that's for sure. I think she was the first girl across the finish. And Im pretty sure she much prefers the 400m to the old 5k any day. Don't we all?

And not too terribly far behind - working her arms and remembering to breathe (running safety 101), comes MJ in her first ever competitive experience. I think her brothers and sisters may have acted a little bit like fools cheering her on - they were pretty stoked.

And somewhere between getting scared out of his mind and the finish - this big boy decided to channel his inner puma and pour on the steam!

Big brother John finished in speedy fashion in the top 5, I might add.
Watch out big kids! We're comin for ya~

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Little Fall Things

October is here ~ and even though it was still 90 for the first few days, we say it is fall. Which, for this family means a little more running for all of us - not just one or two.

............Music seems to help.

And taking a sister along.


And the little pink four-wheeler is back from the shop which means, she doesn't have to be rolled down a hill to get a start, which also means stunt car driver Sweet Girl is back in business giving thrill rides
around the clock.

Last year, Big Guy ran a cross country race in NW Arkansas and we decided to make it a family event to see all the cousins and Hub's parents. This year, we didn't dare miss it. And boy, I sure hope it will be an annual tradition.

Nana and Papa introduced us to a wonderful pumpkin patch fall farm extravaganza and it was a super big
gi-normous hit with all these kids.

I mean - it's not every day that you get to hold a 1 week old baby pig in your arms and rock him to sleep.
This little girl was pretty hooked. And pretty sure this was "her baby".

Apparently, it is at least 10 degrees warmer inside the corn maze than out. One particular explorer which shall remain nameless may need a little more practice with her map - where's the map? where's the map? where's the MAP?

Just feeding a little tortilla to a big cow. With his mouth. Just because he can. I guess.
We all know who the biggest kid is - no surprise there. 

Several minutes later - still hasn't budged. Baby piggy still sleeping too. What a good piggy.

This three week old  took a little more loving care. And my little mama had the perfect touch.

A pony just her size and no ma'am she did not want me to walk beside her.

Little cousins (grandson #3) are turning into big cousins. 

If you look super close - you can count 17 grandchildren - missing only 1. We'll call it the pumpkin patch miracle to get them all in a sitting position in front of a camera. We don't need you to smile - or even look up, if you're too engrossed in your reading material TY - just sit. For two seconds.

Wowee- that's a passel of kids. And two very,very special grandparents who started the whole thing.
Lots of love right there folks.

And while the little kids and not so little kids played on the farm - the Big Guy was getting ready for his race. Sometimes it's sad to grow up and go to high school. 

Race day wasn't near as pretty as the day before. The coach said it would be a fight - and a fight it was.
Mud slinging, rain flying, elbow shoving, slipping, sliding race to the finish over 3.2 miles of sopping wet dirt trails with a little grass in between. Not to the speediest but the agile go the spoils. And my boy, well, he specializes in agile! It may not be pretty - but those long legs have been known to leap tall buildings....and most recently packs of drippy slippery runners.

It wasn't his fastest time and he didn't place (except among his team) but it was a triumph on all counts. 19:19 isn't too shabby - no matter which way you get it done.
Proud of these "Brothers". They train hard, work hard, play hard and stick together. 

And for little brothers who are not quite old enough to dress out for the team - there is football camp with Papa and crazy uncles who think they are one good long pass away from the NFL.

Where else would we rather be on a beautiful fall sunny day than outside with cousins, guns, football and good food? - Can't think of anything better.

This little ball player is glad to have his weekends back - finally.  And please don't miss my cute mama sportin her Alabama swag for gametime. Her blood runs crimson.

And nobody - I mean nobody gets to walk past Papa without a hug. Ready or not.

Gigi's boys are growing up and turning into some pretty super cool dudes.
We can't seem to get enough of them.

This week is fall break for the Big Guy - but not for the home schooners. Even still, there is excitement in the air having him home with us. We may just take it easy a bit and celebrate a little later wake time in the mornings and a lot more on the lunch menu. Today he was back in the saddle with his team and out the door for practice at 6:30. By 9 we were home again to some homemade baked oatmeal by his sweet sister and by 9:30 he was asleep for the second time. Only to wake at noon for more food. 

sigh. The life of a growing boy. Glad for the extra rest. 

Tomorrows agenda: Dentist and Driving Permit.

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Monday, September 30, 2013

India update and a video

My children managed to bring home from the far east land of India:  two tubs of clothes so rank you could pass out, one case of head lice, two cases of the flu (thank you Jesus that was all), 4 beautiful Sarees, a bag of delightful trinkets and tea for the brothers and sisters and cousins, and  not one - but almost 2000 pictures of beautiful orphans and buildings and work projects and friends, dozens of new friends.  Do you know how happy that made this mom?

God worked in so many big and powerful ways and small and precious little ways that didn't make it to the testimony outline but that we notice day in and day out - and wouldn't dare speak of to the kids - because Hey! - I LIKE THE NEW NORMAL......
Some of my favorite little things would be getting ready in 5 minutes or less, which Big Guy had this down pat for a while - it was me that wanted him to take a little more time with self-maintenance. ahem. I love that they smile more when speaking to other people. It's just not something you'd think to teach very intentionally- until you notice it isn't happening. And then, ugh - kids can seem so rude. Not my kids, you know, other peoples' rude kids.

But I imagine that one clear way of communicating in India to leap across that language barrier is a great big grin.

It warms my heart beyond words to see their faces light up when they speak to other people. Jesus did that.

I've said it before - but they left siblings and came back friends. Words can't explain the joy we hold in our hearts to see this. I'm so thankful they could experience a life changing event for the first time together. Grateful that they had one another to lean on and appreciate - and that God actually knit those two hearts together in His great love as He softened them both for His work in a new country.

I don't want to speak on their behalf or attempt to characterize what they have learned. Hopefully very soon they will summarize a brief description for me. They have written letters and made notes for church presentations but somehow the one teeny weeny paragraph I requested for my blog just hasn't made the cut. ...... yet.

In their defense, they have been quite busy. School and extra curriculars are in full swing for both. But on most Sunday nights we find them cackling away behind some computer screen in a Google hangout session with their India team. Boy, are we ever glad for these sweet friends! God did something special with that group of kids and I have a feeling they will be household names for many years.

 Thankfully, Sweet Girl happens to have quite a knack for movie making and worked up a little video with a collection of pictures. I'm moved every time I watch it and wanted to share with you too.

Hopefully those paragraphs will appear  before Christmas. And hopefully, I will  do better keeping things updated around here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"The most precious jewels you'll ever have around your neck 
are the arms of your children........"

Blogging has taken a big time back seat lately - but for good reason. I hope to catch up soon with some good stories and pictures and more pictures - and if I'm very lucky a personal little blurb from two certain big kids about their summer away. 

But for now, school is back in session and we are all just so so grateful to be together again. Hearts are full, hands are full, washing machine is full, dishwasher is full..... beds are full, showers ..... full, 

refrigerator - empty. 

it's a good empty. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Plain and Simple ~Summer of Littles

Baseball is over and without further a due, allow me to introduce you to the 2013 state champs.
Defending state champs, might I add.

This Little Man was pretty pumped to play for a winning team this year and get his very first state championship trophy. They were in the heat of battle as we drove back from Florida seeing the kids off to India.

Thankfully, my mom and dad love kids' baseball as much as we do and were there to cheer them on for every game. Stinks that his big weekend fell on the same as commissioning - but he sure was a trooper about it and gave us a pass. We may have prayed for a tropical storm to hit Tennessee because we were so torn up about missing it, but instead - it was a heat wave. Championship day lasted seven hours and three games long - but ended in a barn burner with our team up by 1.  Which, if my memory serves me correct, is ALL. YOU. NEED. BOOM!!!!! 
If you heard some screaming and shrieking from I-40 on a sunny Sunday afternoon - um, that would have been me, when we got the call.  Since January, this team has been working hard and getting better all the time. Way to go out Wildcats!!!

But even more than the win (no really, I'm serious) we were sure happy to know all these great boys.  They are fighters in every way!!!  They got along so well and were an encouraging group to spend our summer with. Boy, that's important. And Little Man..... well he learned a whole heap of a lot about baseball and had a great time - which is what it's all about! 

With baseball over, we're officially in slow mode, and "NO" mode. Which means, don't ask me if you can sign up for something for the next 4 months unless you want to see me morph into Gollum's worst nightmare.

One reality (not so pretty,but real all the same) of having a handful of kids is that the littles end up being drug along to all the big kid stuff in exchange for a life of their own. Hey! - it makes them stronger, I say.  Where I may have driven my first two kids to a playground for the express purpose of spreading before them a lovely picnic lunch and basking in the joy of pre-school innocence - this crew grabs their picnic on a set of bleachers somewhere or in an auditorium lobby and if they're lucky, manage to stumble on a few playgrounds along the way. They don't really know any different - but down deep I take a sigh and remember when we weren't so hurried and had more time to just "play".

So this summer - without the big kids (who I now have confirmed are 90% responsible for all the craziness on our calendar) I am determined to catch up on some summer pleasures. Just because.
Because you're only little once.

And because Baby Girl told me she forgot we had a zoo. Oh goodness. I fail.

 Our zoo is better every time we go. Which is pretty awesome for me since we only go once every three years or so.

It really is great fun to just watch a big huge grizzly bear - enjoying a swim and some personal grooming - a mere feet from my face.

Where are we again? Is this for real? Rudolph's been eating his Wheaties.

MJ had been to the zoo once before when she was on lock down in a stroller and likely couldn't have cared less. Not this time! Oh my. I had more fun than she did enjoying her thrill. Little animal lover that she is, there was something to gasp and point about around every corner. And clearly Little Man is there for the tree climbing. the end.

I will say, it warmed my heart how that boy was glued to her every single second. No way she was getting three feet from him. Watch out boyfriends - MJ's got a posse.

And we even got to watch this poor hot mama yak up her lunch - or a very large hairball. I think she's pregnant, someone said.
Two words for ya sister - don't sit in the hot sun on a hot rock when you've got morning sickness.
And don't eat your own hair. THAT never ends well.
I feel your pain girlfriend.

Our good friend and cousin came all the way from Chicago to see us and by us, really I mean Little Man. And by cousin, really I mean, he's Hubs' first cousin..... actually, Hubs' uncle's son - which makes him my kid's second cousin (i think)  - but we're not into all that. So, he's cousin JJ to us. And Little Man was
pre---tttt----yyyyy pumped to have another man in the house.

Just so happened we were able to work out a weekend on the lake with our church while he was here.

And turns out, cousin JJ is a crazy man on the water skis. Thanks for making us all look like doofs.

Except for Hubs. That Hunk's still got it.

Show off.

Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas is one beautiful place with something for everyone. Including cliff jumping into very deep, very clear water.

MJ was mulling it over. She actually took the plunge...... that I did not capture on film, but from a smaller, shall we say, more jr. size rock that didn't cause her  (or me) night sweats afterwards.

Baby Girl's  favorite, infinity for ever, when can we do that again, my turn, please oh please, infinity please, is getting her slobber slung out of her face on this tube. Surprisingly, she was not alone in her appreciation for all things fast and furious. Don't let those sweet faces fool you - all three of them - crazy fierce! There may or may not have been some maneuver called the death roll.... in which you DID NOT want to be on the outside. I somehow found out about this a little late. And more than once.

And back at the homestead on the hill, Hubs is breaking out one of his favorite toys. He figured Little Man was plenty old enough to explore the bottom of our pool by Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. (impressed Hubsy??) I still remember. 

Turns out we've got a few hairballs down there too - didn't know about. Little Man gets to clean all that up while he's snorting the oxygen. But he's counting the days to try out his first coral reef community or fish habitat. 

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