Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Road Again.....

We are off once again! We are heading to Mississippi to visit with my uncle and aunt for the weekend! We wanted to grab the opportunity for a 4 day week in MS versus a 2 or 3 day whirlwind weekend!
The kids can't wait to get over there and play in their HUGE yard and to see Rocky of course! I think Rocky is Eli's favorite dog - so he will be thrilled to see him again!
That is about it for "goings on" here. We are ringing in the new year tonight with some fondue! The kids and I cannot wait! We are going to follow our supper of Cheese fondue (with veggies and bread) with some wonderful chocolate fondue with pound cake and lots of other goodies! Then we are off to bed long before the ball will drop, in an effort to get good sleep before we get up early and trek over to Mississippi! (It is almost as fun to type that state as to spell it out loud!)

We have been talking about Resolutions here and in our 1st grade Sunday School class. I think I am going to challenge our kids to pick one area that they want to focus on next year (not playing the wii better though - as was already requested!) and see what they think about that. I am trying to be more disciplined in my quiet time. I am going to join an online group Bible study (offers peer conversations if I have time, otherwise just encourages Bible reading and topic study). I have no excuses, my room has my "new" (not really but new to our room) chair ready for some quiet time, the kids are old enough to understand when to get up, and well no others come to mind. I hope to be better about that.

Well, hope you are all well and ring in a wonderfully Blessed 2009!!

PS - please pray for Kristen - she has Fifth's Disease and is pregnant with #4. We are praying that this has no affect on the baby at all! God is amazing and can protect little Kayleigh!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Zoo Day for the Coles

What was our family's favorite gift this year? Well today it was the zoo pass from Robert's folks! The kids and I headed out first thing this morning to enjoy the 70 degree (plus) weather - the high is supposed to be 81 - what month is this? Oh wait, we live in Texas and you can never predict weather here!!

So here are the kids enjoying the elephant outside the zoo, because in my excitement we arrived a little early! But hey, what is 15 minutes when there is fun stuff like this to climb on! Do you notice the thrilled look on Hans Solos' face? I think he thought it was higher than it seemed from the ground! And little girl is clinging to her brother for dear life I think!

Chewie is taking pics now - and since I could not see faces this is what we got with little Luke - and the princess does not look to thrilled either! Oh well, still cute!

Here is our first pic of Patrick today - he is the male gorilla at the Dallas zoo. We have seen him often and have quite a few pics of him. But today we were able to get a nice pic of him just sitting.

Then we got one of the boys with him in the back before he got bored and wandered off. Or so we thought......

A few minutes later we walked around to the other viewing site by the cave like structure that you go into to see Patrick behind the glass. He was walking over toward us with some vegetation in his mouth and I thought we may get some good sightings again. He was about 5-10 feet away when he ran to the glass and jumped with his hands into it.
Do you see the hand print? It terrified the kids, Little Luke was pleading from the other side of the cave structure to come out of there now - he was worried Patrick was coming through! Little girl was clinging for dear life and the boys were shocked but did not run off. I admit I jumped!! I am not sure Patrick is my favorite Gorilla anymore! But it was a fun trip and the kids loved it!

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas pics

Here is our tree - chock full of presents! This is the night before!

Here is our little girl helping Daddy make donuts about 6 am Christmas morning! The "budding Baker"!

Here are our donuts!

Here are the kids in their PJ pants - and with their name pillows! They loved them!
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Happy Birthday all around!!

Our Happy Birthday Jesus cupcakes!

Robert's birthday cake - Carrot cake - and yes there are 35 candles!

Posted by PicasaThe kids enjoying Daddy's birthday fun!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fun Day

Can you tell I am smiling as I type this out? I am if you cannot tell from the "happy" font!

I am patiently waiting for Ashley, our dear babysitter, to arrive to watch my brood for the day! Yes, I said the day! I do not get these often - these days on my own - especially not during the week! (now that I think about it - maybe once a year!) My friend and I are off for a fun Mom day! We are going to go to a local shelter and help out for a little while, then she is off to a quick Dr appt - then we will meet for an "adult" lunch (that almost sounds dirty) but you know, a lunch where we do not have to worry about little people! Then we are off to do some fun shopping, not the kind with a list, just the fun kind. We even have a few store to go in that you would hardly ever think of taking your kids into! So I cannot wait. I am really done shopping for the BIG day, but I need one more thing for our youngest son to balance things out. Maybe a few little things for the stockings and some wrap for SANTA that my kids won't recognize!

But don't get me wrong - I love hanging out and shopping with my kids. I will do it all with all four in tow - Walmart, the mall, even a fun store every now and then. But I do love a day out with a friend without the little hands touching EVERYTHING!!

Then tomorrow is my dear husband's birthday - so we spend the first half doing his birthday and the second half of the day doing Christmas Eve - it will be a fun day!

Make sure you invite Jesus to your birthday celebration on Thursday! Won't it be sad to celebrate a birthday without the birthday boy?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Time is Here (well almost)

This season is coming to its peak here shortly, and it is just so much better than when it started. Yes, most everything is done (the stressing part anyway) but I think it is more than that. We have slowed way down and just really enjoyed things. This is not to say that every moment is a joy in our home but we are really grabbing the good stuff and trying to let go of the bad.

We enjoyed a great lunch today at the Redmond's (Robert's grandparents) we took a turkey supper over and when she arrived home from the hair dresser we had our "Christmas Supper" with them. It was just nice to not be in a rush to get anything "done" and we just enjoyed talking and reminiscing! Here are some pics of Robert and the kids playing football while we waited to eat!

So now, it is full steam ahead to Santa's Big Arrival! Yes, we do the Jolly Old Man thing. I will admit about 4 years ago (when myeldest was 3) I told him the truth. All of it. I thought if he believes in Jesus and Santa and finds out one is not real he may think the other one is not too! Oh no! Bad Santa - no more. Well it is true you mellow with age (and more kids) and I have. We now embrace Santa as a FUN small part of Christmas! If you ask my kids the best part of Christmas - without hesitation they will say Jesus's birthday! They will tell you why and they are so sincere in their excitiment! But you know, Santa is simply fun! It is wonder! I mean the tooth fairy (I mean seriously WHO can believe in this) has been here 4 times now I think. And my kidos really believe she leaves the money!! We are all in such a rush as kids to grow up though, and if believing in this silly stuff keeps them little a little longer, I am all for it. Our lives do not revolve around these mythical creatures, but we enjoy what good they bring to the table. I will continue to remind my kids that the only one who can meet their needs (emotional, physical and all the rest) is their creator and savoir - Jesus Christ. And they will always know that there is no reason to put up a tree or give a gift if you do not believe in him - I mean come on - IT's CHRISTMAS!! Always has been - always will be. It is here, in Tokoyo, Russia, Germany, France, Iceland....everywhere! It is not "winter holiday"!

Anyway, enough about that. So Santa is slated to arrive in 4 and a butt days!! Yeah - and the kids are keeping track! THey cannot wait to see what they got. but you know what they are almost more excited about? CHRISTMAS DONUTS!!! Who would have known!! We started this tradition about 3 years ago when we saw that a local donut shop was open Christmas Morning, so Robert runs out about 6 am to get the goods and gets home before the kids are allowed to peak their heads out. So when they rush out at 7am to open gifts, they will stop at the table first to enjoy their Christmas Donut! Han Solo told me that the donuts were the second best thing about Christmas (I figured gifts first, but he honestly told me Jesus was first, donuts second!). What fun!

We had some friends over on Friday evening and the boys did a great job of decorating the table with place cards and all the silverware & plates too! They were so helpful! (Notice the Cowboys cup that Jacob "claimed"!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Favorite (or just really good) Things

It has been a fun week! (And weekend too). We spent the evening with Robert's brother & family Friday night, along with his Mom (from Michigan) and grandparents from Dallas. We had a great meal - lots of goodies and lots of good wine too!
Well, since we were in 2 cars we went back the next day to pick up the one we left so we could all drive home in one car (my request) Lisa offered me a hutch/armoire/piece of furniture. I never (or not often) turn down free, and especially not furniture. So we have a new item in our kitchen now and I love it! I am so excited that Lisa did not need it anymore and passed it along to us!
We also made some great Christmas cookies yesterday and used lots of fun sprinkles from Betsy and some that we picked up in Michigan in an Amish Community there. The kids were excited to have some fun cookies and Robert and I had our share too!

Here are some pics of some other fun stuff. Here is the gang after our nightly Jesse Tree activity. We read a little devotion, ask the kids some questions about what that ornament represents and then we pray. The kids colored all the ornaments before we laminated them so they love to see who colored the one for that night, and if it is Little Girl, we do not hear the end of it from her!

After our Jesse Tree we move on to our new tradition for this year, their Chocolate Advent Calendars! The kids love that part! And I love that it reminds us all that we need to do the Jesse tree part, so hey, if a little chocolate gets us to do a nightly family devotion, BRING ON THE HERSHEYS! I think we can even say that studying the word of God is sweet like Chocolate to our spirit! What do you think?

Here is our tree this year, it is great the kids can almost cover the tree - it started out just the 18 inches around the bottom were covered with ornaments, but as you can see they are getting higher!
Here is our oldest with a family favorite for the tree - from Maine from The Lewis Family! This was when there were only 3 of us! Wow!
Here is our crazy boy with his favorite ornament, because he and dad made this one by themselves!
Here is our dear daughter one morning reading the newspaper! Gotta start them early!
But really, she is trying to figure out why her 2 older brothers now race Robert and I to the paper on the weekends! They want the comics and several ads, I am not sure how that interest happened!

So we are enjoying lots of fun things this season, and are looking forward to a few more (Gingerbread House at least!)!

Friday, December 12, 2008


You know, I wonder if peace ever comes from anywhere other than Jesus? You know? Really, is it possible to be at peace without Jesus in your heart? I cannot imagine, because while I have in in my heart, I still struggle with PEACE! But this week has been so much more peaceful than last!!

That was until 1:30 am today - I was peacefully sleeping (even my back was feeling better) when I heard a loud crash that stopped my heart! I was sure something crashed to the ground or that one of the kids was up and into stuff. Robert, however slept through it all! I got up and fearfully decided to search the house - but was sure there was something to be fearful of! Anyway, after much searching, I found a large tub of legos that fell off a shelf in my closet and dumped everything out. There had to be about a 1 million little legos all over our closet floor. So I went back to bed and proceeded to have anxiety attacks on and off for about an hour and a half. I would calm my thoughts and think about something else and then I would go back to the thoughts that stress me out. As I was finally about to fall back to sleep the cow mooed (from the Little People Barn) - still not sure how that happened - I have never heard it in the middle of the night before! Crazy!

But, back to the peace - I have been so much more at peace. The kids and I have just had fun this week - we have tried to do some crafts, read and just play. Our presents for Robert's brother's family are wrapped and ready to deliver tonight at dinner. So we are almost done exchanging gifts - I have 2 packages to get out still one to Oregon and the other North Carolina - I need to get on those. But really that is not too bad! I really like the gifts for our nephews - I was challenged until yesterday and now can't wait to see how they like it! And Lisa too and Brian. I am not a good gift giver - creative - but this time I think I did okay! We will see!

Anyway back to my first thought - peace without Jesus - I do not think it exists. And for those of us with Jesus we must be searching for that peace and trusting him to give it to us. I know for me it does not come on its own - it does not come naturally - I have to submit to get it from my Lord - and only when I ask and submit! Anyway, I am learning and I hope the legos don't fall tonight to rob me of some peace!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crafts, Crafts & MORE Crafts

Just wanted to share this link -
we are crafting today - so far 2 different ones! This is not normal for me to craft with the kids!

Anyway, here is a great site with great ideas - we are going to use some in our 1st Grade Sunday school class!

Happy Crafting!

Warm Day by the Fire

That is my plan! I hope that we cannot think of one reason to leave the house and we just get to snuggle by the fire reading some great books, maybe doing a craft or two and just hanging out.
I will let you know if that works or not! -- There are lots of things that "need" to be done around the house, but they will always be there , my kids won't! Besides, we do not have any company planned for ... well at all. So who cares about those things that "need" to get done? Not me - not today anyway!

I will say I am getting better about the fun part of this season. We are taking a long Christmas break - all of December. We schooled all summer and were very far ahead, and I knew that I would be sewing and writing, and cooking, so I really thought taking the month off was wise! So Monday we went out and played with a friend that can never do that! We went to the mall to see Santa - so fun! And then we went to lunch, oh yeah, they got to ride the carousel too at the mall (these are all things we hardly ever do!). The kids had a blast!! We did run a few errands in the afternoon, like set up the fellowship hall for our Ladies Fellowship that night (but the kids played on the play ground while we did that - so is that fun or errand? I pick fun!)

Anyway, I am glad that we scheduled the month off and if we actually get anything academic done it will just be icing on the cake! Of course academic is a loose term - we do math every evening (cooking dinner), we read - and they read all the time, we have Bible time every night with our Advent Devotion, we talk about where our Christmas cards are coming from (Geography) - I am sure there is some more learning in there too - just not as deliberate as the school year!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Game Day

We are all pumped up to watch Army win today against Navy!

Hope you are enjoying the game in your home!

Go Army! Beat Navy!!

I suspect we will have a "Rocket" video of the kids before the day is over!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Slowing Down

It has been a good couple of days. We have slowed things down drastically here in our home. I always made an effort to focus on keeping Jesus the center of our celebration this month, but I realize that even in doing that you can let things get out of hand! I mean almost all of our activities are nativity crafts, advent stuff, or something else with strings leading to Jesus. But there can still be too much.

So since the pain in my chest started I have started to say no to lots of things around here and am currently enjoying a light schedule with my family. I looked at our calendar from last year and there was something every other day or so (Mom's night out, SS fellowship, MOPS small group, etc) this year - almost nothing! And I think I am really enjoying it!

Tonight we finally decorated our tree after a "Make Your Own Pizza Night" dinner and some eggnog after that. So the kids are sugared up with full bellies and we have a decorated tree! We are making some improvements too in the area of tree decorating, Jacob is tall enough to reach about 70% of the tree. So the ornaments no longer stop in the middle but instead reach almost to the top!

This was the first year too that I realized that most of my favorites were made by my children. Either their skills are getting better or I am becoming a bit more sentimental. Anyway, it has been a good day today. No head aches, and minimal aches in my chest. I think the stress level is going down ever so slowly. I know it is so sad that it is this time of the year that is so stressful for me - it makes me sad. This is supposed to be so happy! So I just keep praying that God will take away my desire to compensate in my kids lives for what I longed for in my childhood and give me the grace to be content with what it will be in our homes and nothing more. It is working, but it is going to take time!

And one more thing - tomorrow is the Army Navy game!! YEAH!! SO Go Army! Let's BEAT NAVY!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Realistic" Expectations

Is there such a thing? I mean really? However I think it must be possible because I have friends who do not struggle with having their expectations met. I admit, they are my more laid back friends - the ones who let things go and not stress out about everything.

Yesterday the pain in my chest started again. I say again because this happened about 18 months ago. The pain is from stress. I am becoming an expert at identifying how my body shoes signs of stress. A few are back pain, panic attacks and the lovely chest pain. I know that these are nothing to get worked up about because really the more I get worked up the worse they get. So I am trying this morning to let things go, to give myself permission to do less and EXPECT less. That is the big one!!

So I called my dear friend this morning for an unrelated issue. (to get an address in Iraq for "uncle"James) And I got a free therapy session - and it was good. I told her some of my stress causing issues (mostly in my mind) and she laughed as she gave me another perspective (one less clouded with HIGH expectations) and helped me see that things were not as they seemed! Then I went to her blog and read her "Not Me Monday" that she wrote on Tuesday and it nearly made me cry! I mean really - to write a "Not Me Monday" on Tuesday??? It was so funny and I laughed with tears in my eyes, because I know that God gave me Kristen for so many reasons - SO MANY - but today to help ease some of the stress. And for her to remind me she is praying for me and that is more powerful than I can say.

It's the holidays that do this to me. I want Christmas to be PERFECT for my kids and our family. I want it to be all about Jesus in such a way that they never forget. I want it to be fun and filled with wonderful traditions that they want to pass on to their kids, and I want it all perfect. It was not perfect when I was growing up. I guess it was okay, but I want it great now. I want, I want, I want ...... wow - maybe that is the problem. Anyway, Kristen suggested I make a list of all the things we normally do or want to do. Then to give the list to my dear husband and have him help me eliminate ones that we are not going to be able to do. SO I think I will try that out and see if that helps.

I guess I need to spend some quiet time thinking about how if adding things to the season stresses me out - that it is not what we should be doing. We should be celebrating the Savior - and that alone is perfect and enough. So I will try to set some more "realistic" expectations surrounding this month and this Christmas Season and hopefully my stress level will go down. Maybe I will even write a "Not Me Monday" on Thursday!?!?! Who would expect that??


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