Monday, December 26, 2016

New Family Photos!

   Here are our family photos for 2016 from a sweet photo shoot in the fall. 
  My beautiful friend Sarah Boerger-Smith took them! 


Sunday, September 25, 2016

A simply splendid summer!

   What a wonderful summer we've had. I have so many pictures to share, and so much news! 
   First, and very importantly, we have had a new little life added to our family! My sister in law, Shelly, had her seventh baby in July, and she is simply beautiful. No, really. She is. 

   This auntie couldn't be more proud. 
   There is a beautiful story behind her name, Victory Grace. She's named after her great grandpa, Victor,who flew 30 missions as a waist gunner in a B-24 Liberator in World War II. When he got older, and was about to pass, Shelly told him if she ever had another girl, she would name her after him. That conversation was about 7 years ago, which is interesting, because this is Shelly's seventh baby. 
  And she is also a rainbow of hope for us. Because I cannot tell it as beautifully, I will share an excerpt from Shelly's blog post about her birth.
  "Victory Grace, we pray that your name would be a testimony that will help us all remember that you are the baby girl who helped turn our tears of sorrow into the tears of victory that tell the story of His grace and faithfulness to us.  Not everyone is able to have a healthy pregnancy and baby born after miscarriage or still birth loss.  Your daddy and I are painfully aware of that fact.  There is one thing we know for sure though.  God always fulfills His promises and gives a glimpse of the beauty of His hope for us.  One way I know this is because I know that rainbows exist.  They come after the storms in nature and after the storms of this life.  Sometimes they are very hard to spot right away and then once you see them you can't take your eyes off of their beauty.  Other times they are very obvious.  You are an obvious rainbow for us, sweet Victory.  God gave us the grace to hold you in our arms for as long as He will allow.  We are so undeserving but so very thankful."

  She has brightened our lives so much in the two, almost three months she's been here with us. Thank you, Jesus, for such a beautiful, glorious gift! 
  I could go on and on about my sweet new niece, but, because this blog does not need to be an hour long read, I must proceed to other parts of our summer! :) 

  So, we went to Nana's house and...the treats are just bigger and better there. 

Sweet Grandpa and Jared time! 

Sweet Nana and Jared time! 

  We love her playroom too. 

  We also had a blast on the Fourth of July.

This was taken about a week before our Victory made her entrance! 

Okay, so let me just say right here that this girl takes after her momma. She seriously gets so excited over the little things! :) 

  We had a little pool this summer in our backyard, and it served us well. 

We love us some Oma!

  We had a bit of a party for the "birthday girl". :) Miss Victory Grace, you are loved! 

  We went to Brownwood for a family reunion, which Kaleb refers to as "Brownhood". We stayed in a hotel, and the kids got to swim in the hotel pool, and they had a blast! They also got to touch a live lobster at Red Lobster, where we stopped and ate. 

One of Justin's second cousins took to Jared, and it was so sweet! He was such a helper!

Our local library also had a safety awareness day, where the kids got to meet "Sparky," and tour an ambulance and a fire truck. 

I know this one does not need much explanation. She decided to give herself bangs. These days, mommy has a hard time doing her hair! They are cut up to the middle of her head! To begin with, I don't like bangs. So...this is hard for me! Sigh...this too shall pass. 

One of the pics I left out that we took of Brookelynn and Victory. She just warms your heart. She is such a pretty baby!

We also went to Lubbock for a day, and Jared got to hang out with Aunt Deb, which he hasn't seen since he was a newborn. :) We love you, Aunt Deb!

And...we have pretty much taken off...walking, that is. He was 13 months, which is earlier than my others. Kaleb was 14 months, and Brookelynn was almost 16 months! She was just content to hang out watching her older brother. But this one - he is all boy. 

These kids...;)

And, we had a birthday! I cannot believe he is six. How is that possible?!

He's getting so big, and so fun. I am able to have more in depth conversations with him.   

The Star Wars cake. He wanted all things Star Wars this year!

Jared and Jared. I love it! Jared has become part of our family this year, as we've gotten to know him and his family better. His mom, whom we lovingly call Auntie Sarah, has become a good friend of mine!

Jared, AJ, and Andrew and Jared. 

First day of kindergarten photos. We decided to let Brookelynn do it alongside Kaleb, since they are pretty much on the same reading level.  
 I am homeschooling this year, and it is SO fun. I never expected to homeschool, actually. But - it has been so much more fun than I thought it would be. There is nothing like seeing them get something for the first time. That is priceless. 

Cousin time!


Did I mention Jared was very mobile? He climbs on top of things I don't remember my other two ever doing. 

   It really was a great summer! Jared is doing awesome - he eats all the time, and pretty much anything. (Except for hamburger meat. And green beans.;) He has about eight teeth, going on more. He talks up a storm, and uses little baby sentences. Can't understand much of what he says, but he will tell you a story if you will listen! He does say, "uh oh," "Daddy," "Momma," "outside," "book," "boo," and "ba-ba," all the time, among other things. He also signs for "more" food during mealtime, and "please".   
   He is also turning out to be quite the cuddle bug. He has just started coming up to me and hugging my legs out of the blue. It is SO sweet. 
  He is pretty strong willed already. There is a lot of screaming involved in my day, and I hope this gets better over time! Maybe we will get our "terrible one's" out of the way, so the two's are pleasant...? :) 
  So far, I love our homeschool day. The only problem I run into is wanting to involve Jared more. He tends to play by himself while we do school, and I'm still trying to figure out that balance. 
  Our week looks like this - 

Monday - Library time, then school. 
Tuesday - School, then mommy's bible study in the evening. 
Wednesday - School, then Mission Friends (a kids program at a local church)
Thursday - School, then gymnastics for Brookelynn
Friday - School, and every other week is MOPS.

  The kids are involved in a homeschool group that goes different places together about twice a month. Super excited about this!

  Justin and I have also been leading worship out of town on the weekends at church events. That has been a dream come true for me! 
  However, although I've loved it, I think since homeschool's started, and I've realized just how much of a workload I've got, we may just keep leading at our local church for now. And Justin's work is becoming more involved, since he's going to have to start going out of state. 
  We hate to cut the out of town events, but sometimes you have to do what you've got to do. :) That said, though, leading at our home church is still a passion of ours and truly a blessing! 

   So... I think that about covers it. 
   I am SUPER excited about what this next year entails!! 
And, this next few months. The idea of fall and winter this year, in particular, has gotten me more excited than usual, because it is our first official year of homeschool.
  Here's to a great start!  

Blessings on YOUR fall season, 

"So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today - to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul - then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil." 

Deut. 11:13,14