I love my Mom-Life.

I’m writing this post on Mother’s Day as all five of my treasures are sleeping.  I have a few minutes to ponder my life and my job as mom.

At times like this I see just how much we (as a homeschooling family) are getting accomplished and I feel at peace.  It’s the birds-eye view of our life and school.  During the daily grind, however, I often feel as if we’re spinning our wheels.  We are happy Sonlight users and the Mother’s Day email I received from them today was very encouraging.  If you want to read the whole thing you can click here to enjoy the entire article but the gist was that even the Israelites, on their way out of Egypt, were led along the long route.  God didn’t take them home the fastest way possible, and it was for good reason.  “He purposefully led them in a circuitous route because he had a more important goal for them than efficiency – in this case, he didn’t want them to lose heart.” At times like this I can sit back and accept that things take longer than they should, that we never get it all done in a day, that stomach bugs, doctor appointments, messy diapers, and bad attitudes happen, and that there will often be a need to re-cover material in order to truly grasp it.  And I can relish the fact that we have the time to go at our pace in order to make sure they grasp the material.  I want to check the boxes.  I want to put the school year in the books.  I want to put the studies away for a summer break and spend time just hanging out and playing.  However, we are being led down a circuitous route and God’s intent is for me to have heart, not lose it.  I need to take this birds-eye view more often.

So, as we finish our last few weeks of school (which we are supposed to have already completed) I will do my best to remember the words I’m writing now.  I will try to remember that I have one shot at being the mom to my kids at THIS set of ages.  I will try to remember that two very short years from now Hayden will likely be heading off on his college adventure and our home dynamics will drastically change.  The window of having all five chicks in the nest is slowly closing and I need to enjoy this to its fullest.  I believe I was put on this earth to be these kids’ mom.  I love it.  (Though I admit I’m not always patient, kind, or the most fun mom and sometimes I may not show that I love it.)

Below are some pictures that I treasure of our real life… of our kids just doing what they do.

  • Anna being a bit distracting during school… Kisses for brother.
  • I don’t wash the boys’ clothes.  One went in to change their clothes (they had combined theirs with Parker) and brought to me this very clean, just laundered, rock.  (Boulder?  I placed a sharpie there to show scale.)

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  • Bailey mowing a difficult yard.  Finished product top left.  I love that the bigs are learning the value of hard work and that work=money.
  • Parker showing off his toothless grin.  Sort of.  He was a bit grossed out by this process.

     

  • Hayden displaying his latest drawings.  On his shoes. IMG_1607

 

  • Carson, not grossed out by anything, dumps fluids out of our frog.

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  • 6 Flags Homeschool Day. 2016 and 2017…

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  • Anna hammin’ it up.

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  • The bigs volunteering as stage hands at the local ballet. They have several friends who are absolutely beautiful and graceful dancers and it is always a pleasure to watch their performances.

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And now my treasures are waking up and I want to spend some time with them before 3/5 of them head out to volunteer at the last performance of the spring season.  I hope your Mother’s Day was fantastic.

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The Hamricks get culture…

As a kid in public school I immensely enjoyed field trips.  Some of my favorites included trips to Ovens Auditorium for orchestra concerts or other performances.  I vividly remember watching Peter Pan fly over my head during one of those field trips.

Being homeschooled, my kids get an even greater variety of field trips.  Since we moved to Texas the wow-factor of the trips has decreased… while in Europe they saw such things as the Eiffel Tower, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, Michaelangelo’s David and the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

While those are amazing, the sites we’ve seen in Texas have directly impacted the course of our own country.  We’ve seen the Alamo, Luling and Fredericksburg, TX, and the Cadillac Ranch.  Okay, so maybe that last one didn’t impact our country as much as it reflects something quirky about it. What that is, I have no idea.

More recently the boys and I took a field trip with our co-op friends to Ft. Worth.  The tour guide shared with us the fascinating history of the city, complete with its rise, fall, and recent rejuvenation.  A week later Matt and I went back for our fantastic gift from the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation and I walked him through the entire tour, sharing as much with him as I could remember.

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This beauty helped me find the letter A.  It eluded us for a good 15 minutes. IMG_1325

I’m not typically grossed out by taxidermied animals.  I was raised by a hunter and I consider myself pretty tough-stomached.  But these are the actual animals from Roy Rogers’ and Dale Evans’ shows/movies.  Horses Trigger & Buttermilk, and Bullet, the dog.

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Amazing “coincidence”:  my mom told me of a book someone on her flight to Killeen recommended to her.  Matt and I downloaded it and listened to it on our trip.  It happened to be a true story set in Ft. Worth and we actually drove on many of the streets referenced while we were on our special trip.  We actually stayed at the Omni with a view of the Water Gardens, which were also specifically referenced. I highly recommend “Same Kind of Different As Me.”

And regarding culture, I mentioned in last week’s post that the boys have volunteered with the local ballet company as stage hands for their Christmas and spring performances.  I love that this opportunity offers them the chance to give of themselves in a way that they receive nothing back. There are volunteer opportunities that the boys take part in that directly benefit them (the youth yard sale, for example).  But when they serve as stage hands for the ballet, they are benefitting a group of people with no return on investment other than the satisfaction of being a blessing to someone else.  They have several friends in the ballet which is how they found out about the need.  As far as I know, they do a good job and provide a needed service to the company.

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As you can tell, volunteering with the ballet was torture and they had no fun.  Totally selfless service…

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Monday almost got me…

It’s 9:00 pm on Monday and I just now remembered that I was supposed to have a blog post up.  I haven’t even started it.

I don’t particularly dislike Mondays but I’m happy to see this one fade away.

After a couple of weeks of sleeping in, o-dark-thirty came early.  I had a few moments in my Quiet Time before I started Insanity… and that’s when the insanity began.

Parker started throwing up; Carson sprayed Axe in my workout area (my garage); Anna woke up earlier than normal.  All of this before 8:00 am.

Parker was sick on and off throughout the day only getting about three tiny cat-naps to help pass the time.  Anna was really sweet though there were times I wished I had some reinforcements I could call in.  (Before my local friends start fussing at me for not calling on them, I chose to refrain just in case she has whatever germs Parker has.  You don’t want a stomach bug at your house.)

School was accomplished in some forms.  People got fed for the most part.  The bathroom got cleaned a time or two.  I did manage to get dinner on the table and Parker managed to eat 5 bites of rice.  And he kept that down!

To say today was a bad day would be too harsh.  It wasn’t, in spite of all of that.  But I can let this particular Monday ride off into the sunset and never see it again without any sadness at all.

I took no pictures today so here’s a picture of Parker playing in the sprinkler on Saturday. (He didn’t know I could (would?) run through it with him.  I showed him!  And then we went to the driveway to lie/lay (take your pick*) flat and absorb the warmth from the concrete.  We were there at least 10 minutes and about halfway through Parker said, “I like this.”  Bless.  He was missing his big brothers who were off volunteering and I had to pinch-hit for them.  I guess I did okay.)

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*I try to be grammatically correct and I even googled this to see which was correct.  Grammar Girl let me down.  None of her examples matched mine so I’ll let it go. I’m happy to let you know I know there’s a difference and that I’m not too proud to admit when I don’t understand something.  I’ll take a lesson from anyone willing to give it but for now, GOOD-NIGHT, MONDAY!

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If it sounds too good to be true, it might just be true!

The first time I got an email from Amanda I overlooked it.  I honestly thought that there was no way anyone gets a free, all-inclusive trip with no strings attached.  I’m skeptical because I know plenty who have been burned by believing emails that promised something amazing.

Then I got a second email about this offer that said, “I know this sounds like a scam but I assure you… you and your husband really have been nominated to receive a Revitalization Retreat offered by the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation. ”  She told me to check them out and when I did I realized that this really was a thing!

Matt and I had a phone interview with three of the CKFF team members during which they told us that we were not only nominated but that we had been selected!  We were given VIP tickets to the Chris Kyle Birthday Bash, the annual fundraiser in Fort Worth during which Easton Corbin would be performing and Jay Novecek would be MCing.  Our retreat would be tailored to us and they asked us to give them some activities we’d be interested in doing.  We told our sweet “retreat concierge” that we would love a couples massage, a movie (that didn’t include cartoons), and something I have been eyeing since we got to Texas: Urban Adventure Quest.

The foundation wanted to make sure we were able to attend this retreat at absolutely no cost to us.  They covered the following costs:

  • flying my mom in to stay with the kids;
  • spending money for my mom;
  • spending money for Matt and me;
  • VIP tickets to the Birthday Bash (we got to meet famous people!);
  • a rental car to get to Fort Worth;
  • our hotel stay in the Omni;
  • treats in our hotel room when we arrived;
  • a couples massage;
  • Urban Adventure Quest;
  • more to come once we get back to our real lives…

This retreat has been invaluable.  I know there is a dollar figure that will be attached to this retreat on the Foundation’s end, but on our end, it’s priceless.  Taya Kyle’s vision for these retreats is to send military and first-responder couples away from their every-day-lives to focus on each other.  Matt and I have gone to plenty of marriage retreats but usually Matt’s working and our marriage isn’t the focus.  This has been amazing.

If you are looking for an organization to donate to, I can assure you that recipients of this gift are grateful for all who have donated to make the retreats available.  Listening to Taya’s passion for marriage Saturday night left me feeling like I had been to church:  God at the head of the marriage, THEN the husband and wife relationship; THEN the kids.  Just that morning I had written a reference letter for a couple I know who is starting the adoption process.  I wrote to the agency that I fully support this family adopting a child because they put God first, and just after God, they put each other.  Their other kids are thriving, confident, and well-adjusted even in spite of the difficulties that life sends their way and I believe the kids are doing so well because they are confident that their parents love each other and their marriage is stable.  I smiled as Taya spoke the very words I had written and sent to the adoption agency just hours before her speech.

Matt and I will celebrate our 18th Anniversary 29 May and we had hoped to go away for a few nights in celebration.  This weekend is the perfect opportunity!  Having Nana watch the kids gives us such peace and that was the first gift the CKFF gave us.

Anna sees Nana!!

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Omni Hotel: Fort Worth.  Beautiful room and awesome location.

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To get our steps in Matt and I walked four miles on Saturday after our couples massage.  (I know – most people exercise and then go for a massage, but our massage was scheduled for 0900 and we didn’t want to get up early.)

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Corie and Matt recommended The Meddlesome Moth and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner.  To get the best meal, order the Steak on a Stick with the sides that come with the ribeye.  The ribeye was good, but the steak on a stick was out of this world.  The fries and salad that came with the ribeye were fantastic… put those two together and you won’t regret it! IMG_1425

#31 was wonderful! IMG_1372IMG_1373

I attended the Great Homeschool Convention several weeks ago with my friend, Stephanie.  We found The Velvet Taco and I couldn’t wait to bring Matt.  Fish ‘n Chips taco with a side of pork nachos.

The focal point of our trip to Fort Worth was the Chris Kyle Birthday Bash.  Matt and I drove up to Billy Bob’s and let the Valet take care of our car – our name was on the list for free valet.  We entered the doors and were taken straight to the sign-in table.  We were given bags of goodies and then our VIP passes.  Amanda took us to the VIP reception room and just in front of the entrance was a photo-op spot.  I initially thought the picture would be just Matt and me, and just as I stepped up to the backdrop, Easton Corbin walked up.  I look forward to seeing the professional pictures that were taken but below are some they took with Matt’s phone.

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Moments later Amanda introduced us to Taya Kyle.

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And then we felt like we were the celebrities as all these other people walked up to have their picture taken with us.

From left to right:

Scott Brown; Tank Dwayne Tanksley; Jay Novecek; Matt; Taya Kyle; Easton Corbin; Me; and Coffee Anderson.

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After the photo session we went in to the reception room, chatted with other people, and then enjoyed a mini-concert.  Fun stuff!

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After the concert and reception we walked around the HUGE facility.  Everywhere we tuned were pictures and banners celebrating Chris’ birthday.IMG_1429

Billy Bob’s is a huge attraction in Fort Worth so we took a picture with one of the neon lights.

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The formal portion of the evening included a few songs and speeches by those who had their pictures made with us. 🙂

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We ate dinner in true Texas style:  BBQ and fixin’s.  Afterward was a live auction during which several really fun things were sold to benefit the foundation… with the goal of sending more couples on retreats like Matt and I are currently enjoying.  (This blog will be posted before we check out of our hotel.)

Here are a few of the items sold during the live auction, and many more were sold before dinner in a silent auction.

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You know… the hardest part of accepting a gift like this weekend is knowing how to say thank you.  Words don’t seem sufficient, and the people giving the gift don’t want anything in return.  So for now, I’m just making the best of the time we have here.  Matt and I have reconnected and enjoyed traveling without having carry a load of stuff.  We miss our kids very much but we are enjoying the laziness this trip has provided.

We walked along the Trinity River in almost complete silence for 45 minutes yesterday.  We stayed up till 12:45 one night watching American Sniper – me for the first time, and then, last night, ordered room service for dinner and went to bed by 9.

It’s been perfect and we really hope that others in our life are able to receive this kind of revitalization!

Another post will follow this one once I get the professional pictures.  I’ll also share a bit more about the Foundation and the good it has done in the past.  For now, I’m going to go relax a little bit before we check out and head to the last part of our adventure… Urban Adventure Quest and Hard Rock Cafe!

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Easter 2017

This Easter season was slightly different from others in that we weren’t sure Matt and Hayden were going to be home on Easter Sunday.  They had an epic road-trip in honor of Hayden’s upcoming 16th birthday and I really didn’t want them rushing home if that was going to cause them to drive unsafely.

As it turned out, they made the drive from Kansas City to Fort Hood in one day and did so safely.

I didn’t shop for new Easter clothes for any of the boys but did find a great dress for Anna at Goodwill for $2.99.  (My mom is cheering right now… she knows how much I hate shopping and digging for quality items while shopping.  Because I hate to shop about as much as I hate to spend money, I rarely buy clothes for me or anyone else.  But when an adorable dress your daughter’s size with the tags still on it jumps off the racks at you, you BUY it.)

Anna looked adorable and the boys, handsome, even if they weren’t dressed to the nines. Honestly, I don’t know if I got any pictures of all five of the kids on Easter, but we were very blessed by a fellow Chaplain Spouse who took our family pictures in the traditional Texas setting.

So please enjoy the following pictures of our Easter, with the majority posted individually, as that is how I prefer to share the AND how my readers stated they most enjoyed viewing them (by an overwhelming majority).

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It may be hard to see in this picture but Anna was VERY EXCITED about the Easter Egg Hunt at Soldier’s Hospitality House.  She was squeezing her arms in and grinning from ear to ear.

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And then she was off… it was serious business getting to the eggs before a big kid came and got the one she spied.  (We had to keep hiding the same three eggs over and over again because there were some really fast kids there and we weren’t able to get Anna from one to the next fast enough.)

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Our animal-loving baby girl…  She and Stella both wanted the ball.

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If you notice, Anna has the ball in this picture.  Seconds later, Stella comes up and takes it right out of her hand.  This breaks Anna’s heart for a few minutes.  Nothing Big Brothers Parker and Carson couldn’t handle.

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Anna has a sweet affinity for Hannah.  She loves her so very much.

 

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Playing Dress-up

During my first pregnancy we were not sure of the baby’s gender.  Not because we were cool enough to want to be surprised but because the baby would NOT cooperate during the ultrasound.  We couldn’t afford a second one so we waited until “it” was born.  However, I just had a feeling it was a girl and the first words I said when our midwife said, “It’s a boy” was, “It IS?!?”  And then, of course, I was as happy as I could be and have loved being a boy-mom to all four of our sons.  I always hoped we’d have a girl but not instead of any of these boys.  Boys are awesome.  (Smelly, but awesome.)

So when we found out Anna was going to be a girl (early on, but after we had decided we were “in” no matter what the gender of the child), I was ecstatic.  All the things that I’d dreamed of doing with a daughter were going to come true.  Dresses and bows, pink things, baby dolls, mani/pedis, a wedding, and the special mother-daughter relationship I share with my own mom.  (Somehow I don’t see my sons sitting in nail salons with me getting our toes done.  What I can see, and enjoy very much, is sitting in a coffee shop or book store with them.  That’s our kind of fun.)

This post is a flashback of the past almost-15 months of playing dress-up with our little girl.

Some pictures have probably been featured on the blog before, but some are probably new.  Some of you will recognize outfits that were on loan to us or gifts.  Those are all the more special.

Enjoy!  (I certainly enjoyed going back through all the pictures!)

(ALSO:  I would like to know which way you prefer to view the pictures.  In slideshows, in collages, or independently. I’ve included a poll for those who are willing to vote.  It’s only one question. Take survey here.)

This purple outfit was the one Mama K brought to the hospital and put Anna in… it is the most special outfit we have.

 

Court date outfit and the outfit she wore when she met the NC Family.

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See the pink onesie peeking out of the blanket?  This was the onesie I bought in August of 2015, just after we decided it was time to start the adoption process. It hung in our laundry room for months, even after we decided we weren’t going to be able to pursue the normal method of adoption.  It was a daily bitter-sweet reminder of what we longed for but weren’t sure we’d ever get to enjoy. Anna wore this on the ride home from Virginia and in the picture below we were sitting in the rocking chair in her room for the very first time.  (She is also wearing a pair of pajamas that one of the big boys wore.)

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The outfit that started it all

IMG_9477Casual-comfy every-day outfits:

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Holiday outfits:

Bathing Beauty:

Minnie Mouse:

Princess Dress Slideshow:

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Happy Hamrick Day!!

 

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Now that you’ve viewed all the pictures in their various formats, which do you prefer?

Take survey here.

Enjoy your week!
~j

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My favorite place in Texas.

Dallas?  San Antonio? Weirdo-Austin?

None of those places.  We have traveled to many areas in this huge state and have seen most of the “must-see” locations on the travel websites and none of those are at the top of my list.  I enjoy those places just fine, but the destination at the top of my list is not on any of those websites:  Camp Eagle in RockSprings, Texas.

The Fort Hood youth group, Bob’s Diner, attends camp there three times a year: twice to serve the camp staff and once as campers.

Anna has now been twice and here are some pictures of our time there, along with a description of the activities depicted.

Service Project, February 2015

Camp Eagle Feb 2015

Hayden and Parker

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Carson clearing brush

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Bailey sorting wood

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Parker winning at gaga-ball.

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The view from the top of the Megazip 3000. (I rode this!)

 

Summer Camp, June 2015

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Gaga-ball

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This place is gorgeous.

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Hayden.

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Hayden repelling.

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Parker playing archery tag

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Hayden and Bailey on the Super-swing.

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Working together to fill a drum with water… the drum had several large holes cut in the sides.

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Bailey at the mine.


Service Project, October 2015

(Bailey and I worked very hard on Day 1 and that evening Bailey’s throat hurt.  By the second day his throat was so bad he and I had to leave for home.  He officially had Strep throat.)

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Carson on the Megazip.

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Hayden on the Megazip (left).

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Parker helping clear a path.


Service Project, February 2016

Our family wasn’t able to attend this service project because we were in Virginia meeting our littlest family member!

Summer Camp, June 2016

The bigs went to camp without us for the first time.  I wasn’t sad for them to go without me… I was sad I couldn’t go.  I really do love this place.

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Hayden arriving at camp.

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Bailey canoeing.

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Carson and Bailey doing something… interesting.

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Hayden-selfie with brothers in the background.

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Service Project, November 2016

Anna’s first time at Camp Eagle:

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Kitchen staff (cleaning the floor-mats).

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Hauling brush.

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Archery Tag

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Archery Tag

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Boys climbing trees.

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Father/son moment. 

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There was always a crowd around Anna.

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Anna has her favorites.

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Just after a diaper change the crowd came back from working on their projects. 🙂

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DADDY!!

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The views.

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So beautiful.

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40 is looking pretty good!

 

Matt has made it!  He’s 40!  He’s earned each one of those years and has done so gracefully.  I didn’t plan a surprise party or an over-the-hill themed event, but opted to have an adult-only dinner at a nearby restaurant followed by some time at the house with families included.

We started his birthday with a family tv show, which turned out to be not-so-family-friendly.  Warning:  there are two television shows called “The Librarians.” One stars Noah Wiley and THAT is the one you want to watch with your family. The other, well, let’s just say that it isn’t quite so appropriate. As in, scrambling to find the remote to make it stop for the love of all that is holy.  We will not be watching the plural version with our without the kids!

After the show we dug in to some serious spring cleaning.  We haven’t had a weekend in months to do this and it was time.  One goal was to Anna-proof the living room… we are tired of having to tell her not to touch certain things.  This area should be a place where she feels comfortable, too, so we moved a few tables out: tables that held tissues, books, and were the docking stations for laptops.  We replaced those tables with her kitchen set.  In the process we swept and mopped under the couches, washed the windows, etc.  For my organization-loving husband, it was a pretty good way to start the day.

We then moved to the garage.  We rearranged a few things to make way for the new bikes we bought last weekend and found several things to donate to the youth yard sale coming up later this month.  This task was a big undertaking but one that was needed.

Finally, the crew moved upstairs and we began a deep-clean of the bedrooms.  Under beds, in closets, etc.  I removed the toys from Anna’s toy box that were Parker’s (little boy toys) and set some in storage for the grandkids.  The rest are heading to the yard sale!  In the toy box I placed all the Little People sets we had saved “for the grandkids” but are now getting used by our daughter!  (That is still so fun to say!)

It was most definitely a work-day but Matt actually said that it was a good feeling to have so much accomplished!  I knew it would be.

Now on to the fun part!

After Matt got his run in, he and I went to HEB to pick out his cake.  Wouldn’t you know it? They only had girl cakes!  It’s a good thing his birthday is on April Fool’s Day and it’s a good thing he has a great sense of humor.

We dropped the cake off at the house and headed straight for Giovanni’s in Copperas Cove.  Friends had already started arriving and we enjoyed over two hours of dining and chatting.  The food was great and the fellowship sweet, even if we missed several friends who couldn’t be there.

The after-dinner-party was at our house and kids from each family arrived making the house feel festive, as they always do.  I gave Matt his gifts and then we had cake, ice cream, and lots of red-dye #4.  While we chatted the North Carolina Tarheels played and kept Matt on the edge of his seat.  Kids played a 2-hour long game of four-square, rode scooters in the dark, and chased Anna around.  That little one stayed up until 10:30!  She was a champ!

The Tarheels won and Matt was thrilled.  He now has plans for Monday evening which include watching the Tarheels in the Championship game.

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I was very excited to give him the gifts I selected this year.  I am not a good gift-giver so when I find something I think Matt will love, I am thrilled.  This year Matt received several sweet cards, an ode from a friend (truly hilarious!),  a new Yetti mug, and from me, a T-shirt blanket made from special tees he’s had for a few years, the Chaplain Crest flag, and the entire Bible with apocrypha in a 5-set volume, formatted as normal books: no chapter headings, foot notes, etc.  It’s made for enjoyment-reading, not studying.

Here are a few pictures from the night.  They’re not great but, I’m trying to get over my perfectionist-issue.  I spent the evening with friends and family, and didn’t take enough pictures… again.

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Backing up; catching up.

So I have decided to attempt something:  I’m going to back up and catch up.  The blog, I mean.  I’m not a perfectionist in many areas, but in chronology, I pretty much want it perfect.  So the idea of blogging out of order drives me nuts.  That little bit of perfectionism is causing me to simply not blog and that has begun to bother me more than the idea of having my blog posts out of order.

So, I’m going to fix it.

I’m going to try to blog once a week and these posts will be short snippets of the past few months.  Few pictures, and most likely all iPhone shots instead of good ones… another blogging-perfectionism-issue I need to get over.

Just wanted to put this here because then I’ll feel like I have accountability.  I’m hoping I can post every Monday morning, giving me the weekend to work on it.

So, stay tuned!  I miss having our lives documented on a regular basis… it’s time I prioritize it again, even if imperfectly.

Blessings!
~j

Somebody likes selfies.

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14 months!

I watched a few adoption videos this week that were not related to anyone I know… I got so engrossed in them that before I snapped back into my reality I felt the old pang of sadness that I used to get when I thought adoption wasn’t a possibility for our family. Within a few milliseconds I realized that we had in fact already adopted!  That this is our reality and we are living in the beautiful-messy world that we have always had a heart for.

Anna is brilliant.  She is learning new words every day and is up to about 20 that she can say, though not all are associated with an object. (Hot and cold, for example, she repeats after us but we’re not sure she knows what they mean.)  She can do lots of signs and typically says the word while she signs it (though she hasn’t said milk she has a very cute full-body dance to go along with the traditional sign for milk).

She enjoys eating bananas which must be enjoyed on the same day as some type of prune dish… I’ll leave that for you to figure out.  Let’s just say that there are troubles in diaper-land if she has one without the other. Anna loves water.  Wa-wer.

This child is a climber.  We’ve had to purchase an indoor slide for her in an attempt to keep her off the tv stand.  Since we bought it 10 days ago she’s only attempted to scale the tv stand one time since.  I’d say that’s a success!  She also enjoys the swing we bought her… we got a pink one just because we can!

Our princess is a ham and knows how to please a crowd.  People still stop us in stores to ohh-and-ahh over her.  Our dentist’s administration staff adores her and loves to watch the bigs with her.  (Benchmark Family Dental will schedule all five of us on the same day so we rotate out of two different hygienists’ chairs.)  During the time I’m back getting a cleaning, some of the brothers are in the lobby watching her.  I had to go back today for two fillings (I know… I know.  At least none of the kids had cavities).  The hygienist and the office staff stopped me before I left to tell me how awesome the kids are and how much they adored watching the boys with her.  They said they could see the genuine love they have for Anna… they watched them without them knowing.  Makes me proud of them for being good to Anna, and it warms my heart that others can see in public what I see in private.

Anna is leaving the stage of putting everything in her mouth.  She used to put everything in there… now we’re down to only a few things a day.  This is giving me great joy because now I can sit out in the back yard and let her roam freely.  Only once has she eaten a clod of dirt.  That’s a success, people.

The pictures below are from just a few minutes ago.  She became interested in my computer so I thought I’d grab a picture… and at that same time she decided to grab my computer! (You can see my hand trying to save this blog post in the second image!  Oh, and please disregard the messy hair.  She hasn’t left the house today and it’s very windy out right now.)

She is still a great sleeper.  She does need her paci given back to her once a night or so, but doesn’t wake fully… she’s got us  wrapped around her little finger.  We never did that with the boys, but don’t tell them.  (Actually, it’s our fault from the start.  We never let the boys have pacifiers in the crib because we didn’t want to start that habit but with Anna, for some reason we were not able to say no.  She loved her paci from the first and since we had that week or so we weren’t sure everything was going to turn out the way it did, we didn’t want to do anything too drastic.  So, she wanted that paci, she got it!  One positive… it seems as if she uses it less during the day than the boys did so I guess it’s a trade-off.  One we’re happy to make.)

Mama Kim and I are still communicating weekly, for the most part.  It fluctuates between weekly and every-other-week.  I hope to be able to visit her in the summer when the kids and I drive to the east coast.  I am so blessed by our relationship… so glad she’s willing to stay connected with us.

I have at least 45 other blog posts floating around in my mind but I am going to leave this one as-is.  I’ll add a few pictures below and write some more posts later.  I’ll close my blog by asking you to keep us informed if you know someone who is considering placing the child she’s carrying for adoption.  I have two great families who are waiting to adopt and I would LOVE to share their stories with anyone who would be interested in considering them.

Blessings!
~Jennifer

Here are some other sweet pictures from the past month.

This is the reason we have a slide inside now.

First time in piggy tails.

She got herself into the drawer I was cleaning out… and ultimately, she got herself back out.

First time in a swing.

First time on a skateboard.

 

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