Saturday, December 28, 2013

Texas, our Texas, oh hail the mighty state!

Actually, we aren't die hard Texans, Joel and I. After living in Hawaii and Utah, we would most definitely not choose Texas's geography, climate, or parts of Texas (southern, really) culture. But, especially for me, Texas is home. And because of that, it's deeply familiar and that's comforting and at many levels, beautiful. So, I enjoyed driving through the country roads from Lubbock to Austin, taking in the cattle and the windmill farms (amazing!) and the cotton fields. I smiled as I sat at a gas station and watched truck after truck pull in and run into the store for something, leaving their trucks running! 
Of course, the main thing is that our families are here. And that means love abounds. 
We are at my mama's house right now- full of character and creativity is what this home is. Oh, I just love it. The kids have a blast feeding the goats across the street, collecting rocks from the driveway, playing in the "cousins room" and just being with family. I'm afraid logistics of being a mama away from home sometimes makes it hard for me to fully soak in being with the family, you know (baby sleep disruptions, fussy afternoons with toddler, kids needing a bit more guidance without a rhythm to our days, etc)? Still, the opportunity for the kids to know and grow in their love for their fam is very, very worth it. Already, there have been such sweet moments. 

...and many more. Need to gather some pics from others. Love to guys! Jen 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Advent: Days 24 and 25!

What a lovely Christmas! We drove to Pagosa Springs, CO on Christmas Eve (not the best road trip ever) and met my big brother and his fam at his sweet mom in laws cabin. Such a beautiful place and so perfect for Christmas! The kids had a blast sledding, snowball fighting, etc. 
Joel and I agreed that we loved how simple the gift part of Christmas was this year. We stuck with our "one big gift each" plan (though we did add a side gift this year) and they each got one from their cousin Lucy, and that was it! Ahhhh.Just in case you are curious about this stuff like I am, Jubilee and Amelia each got an American girl doll and doll clothes (eBay and Craigslist:), and Sam got a Lego helicopter set and a set of things for his nature explorer bag that Emily made him. 
The rest of the day was spent playing with their new things, sledding, reading Christmas books, singing carols, trying to keep Jubilee Rose under control with no nap, etc. :) After the babies went to bed we had a lovely dinner made by the guys- corn chowder, salad, yummy bread. 
Such fun being with that family- I love each of them to pieces. Lucy is just the cutest thing ever. And now we are about two hours from Austin and my mama- woo hoo! Better run...A very, merry Christmas to you! Jen

Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent: Day 23

Oh by gosh by golly (is that how it goes?)...this day was a doosy! It started by driving 2 hours round trip to have a child of mine return a .69 cent rubber snake to the nature center and confess that they had taken it. I won't go into the whole story, but the takeaway for me is that it was a good reminder of how terrible sin makes you feel, how not worth it momentary pleasure is for the major consequences that can come with it. How thankful I am for a gracious God who loves us and shows such grace and freely forgives. And hard but so good for the soul. She couldn't stop smiling after returning it. Back to being my free as a bird girl.
Oh, the hard parenting. I know it has yet to even begin. But I tell you what, this little preview sure has made me cling to Jesus.
Then the day ended with me thinking I was hearing Jubilee playing in the sink, and realizing I was actually hearing water heavily leaking through the floor of the bathroom upstairs into the kitchen below (jubilee had stopped the sink up with a rag). " Oh. My. Gosh. " Apparently that's all I know to say in these circumstances. My six year old twins, however, sprung into action! Sam was actually shouting orders. Looking back, it's hysterical. Amelia thought the roof was going to cave in over the kitchen, so she grabbed Ollie and took him upstairs to the furthest corner away from the bathroom and piled blankets all around him (not sure about that one). 
Oh my goodness, life. It's exciting, isn't it? Now I'm finishing getting stockings ready to open in the morning before we leave. I'm realizing I have books and a few activities for the big kids and nada for Jubilee. Oh middle child of mine, mama loves you so much, sometimes I just forget how big you've become and that you are indeed your own little person! Sigh. Down to the storage room I go to look for something to wrap:) Then off to bed. 
Love to you, Jen

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent: Days 19-22.

Well, boo, I got behind! These days have been full and good (for the most part, at least:). Here are some highlights...

The snow has been amazingly beautiful lately. The twins are old enough to independently get all their gear on and head outside for hours and, I must say, it's awesome!! We have had such cosy times reading inside with hot chocolate while its snows or in the evening by candlelight...lovely!
Here they are making sugar cookies with baker extraordinaire (and next door neighbor), Laura. Sam loves to talk about the time she made the most amazing peach pie EVER from our peach tree's pears. I honestly think he'll remember that pie always:) 
Jubilee and I had fun making some Christmas play-doh together while the big kids were outside one afternoon. 
Boy she's growing up so much lately. I really need to post a video of her soon. Cute little firecracker!
Thursday evening Joel took the big kids to the yearly candlelight vigil in Pioneer Park, paying tribute to the homeless in SLC that died in 2013. It really made an impact on the kids this year, and we have had many discussions since about how we can love the homeless population well. Thankfully, their daddy is an excellent example of how to do just that. 
We had a "manners party" with the Cox's on Friday. Now, as you may have noticed, we do a lot with the Cox's, but I must say this is one of my favorite things we've done! Aviana (age 8) has wanted to have a tea party and Emily (age 30, hehe) saw an idea on the Playful Learning blog about doing a Manners Party, so they combined the two! Joel has often said how thankful he is that his mom did such a good job of teaching them manners and how he feels comfortable at any table because of it. What a gift! So, we read some books about manners, had some good discussions, played manners charades and then all the kids went outside, knocked on the door,  and Aviana greeted them and welcomed then to her party. She was a fabulous host and, really, they were all pretty adorable. 
Definitely a "I love homeschooling" moment for sure:). 
Next up was the Winter Solstice celebration at Red Butte Gardens. Wonderful and beautiful and I'm so glad we went again!
After taking a beautiful family photo of the Cox's, I asked if she'd take one of us. Jubilee would not budge from this spot in the snow, so we just all gathered around her. Though this is a terrible angle for mama, Amelia isn't looking up, you can't see Oliver, and Jubilee isn't even sitting up- it's one of those family photos for the memory books:) ahahaha. 
Here's a better one:) 
Today has been full church (our turn with toddlers- i love seeing joel surrounded by a pack of them- it's adorable), of frantically packing, packing, and, well, packing. Whew, this holiday traveling is no joke! I do love seeing packages all ready to go:) 
And I do love these quiet evening moments...
Goodnight all! Jen

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent: Day 18.

A little winter exploration today at the nature center. The air is still gross from inversion, but it felt good to be outside for a bit. Then it felt good to be warm inside at Jason's Deli with a nice bowl of soup:) 
All for now! Jen