I asked my friend Nikki Walker to take some pictures of our family back in November. She did an amazing job! These were taken at the Prayer Garden at our church. Thanks again Nikki! These are some of the best pictures ever taken of our family.
A couple of weeks ago my ladies Bible study group mentioned helping with The Magi Project. Basically, you fill a shoe box with toys, school supplies, books, and/or candy to send to a child in Mexico and other countries who might not otherwise get Christmas presents. I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do with our girls. Wes and I discussed it with Avery and Abby. We talked about how God wants us to share our money and belongings with other people. We discussed how they could really bless another child. We wanted them to share some of their own money from their piggy banks. They gladly agreed. They said they wanted to take $10 out of their piggy banks to help out (I think that is awesome considering that they don't get an allowance. That is probably a fourth of what they have in their piggy banks.) Later today, Abby told me she wanted to give $11 instead of $10. Tonight we went shopping for the gifts. They each decided they would buy things for someone their own age. They had a fun time choosing the different toys, coloring books, hairbows, bracelets, and other items. We came home and decorated the boxes with stickers and the girls wrote notes to their girls. We also included a little picture of them. This is what Avery thought of to write on her note all by herself:
"I hope you love these toys and God and you mite not no were you got thes toys ther from us all thes toys are just for you boht from us piked by us! and remember God loves you and me and don't bother the cany its mine all right. Im kidding haha! hay, can I tell you I'm six too"
The pictures didn't turn out great, but you get the idea.
Isn't it priceless! I think this will be a new tradition for our family to do each year. Wes and I feel very strongly about instilling a giving spirit in the hearts of Avery and Abby. I would love to hear any other ideas of what you might be doing in your families.
Wes and I thought our youth could benefit from helping with this project as well. We have been discussing Matthew 25:31-46 lately with them. Last week, we encouraged them to bring their own money (not money they bummed off of mom and dad) to small group for this project. Before we piled on the church bus to go shopping we totaled up the money that 26 teens had brought. They brought a little over $500! Wow! We were so proud of them! Because of their generous donation we were all able to shop for 22 boxes. Yay! We all had a good time picking out our treasures then filling and decorating the boxes. They even added sweet notes to the boxes. We said a special prayer for the kids that would be receiving the boxes. I absolutely love watching our teens serve and share!
This year Wes and I celebrated our ten year anniversary. Yay us! Debbie and Ernie wanted to help send us on a trip so we chose an all inclusive resort in Cancun. We also invited our friends Karla and Blake. Karla was in our youth group years ago and now she is all grown up and married to a youth minister. The resort was great, the relaxation was much needed, the food was wonderful, and the company was loads of fun. Too bad the weather did not cooperate. Tropical storm Ida (which later turned into a hurricane) decided to make an appearance at Cancun while we were there. We were still able to have a terrific time despite the cloudy skies. We just didn't get a good tan or enough time in the water.
Because we were staying at a Grand Oasis Resort we had access to the other Grand Oasis Resorts in the area. One day Wes and I went to another resort where the waves were known for being higher. Well, they were even higher than normal because of the storm. We rented boogie boards and had an adventure riding some really high waves. One time, I rode a wave right over two teenage boys. I didn't even touch them at all. Wes saw the whole thing. What a thrill! The rough waves really gave us a beating and we had to get out and rest at times. The next day we planned to go again with Blake and Karla, but the waves were too dangerous. The lifeguard even blew the whistle at Blake when he started to get in. (We can't take him anywhere!) :)
We had an amazing time and made lots of memories. Thanks Encalades for helping to make this possible and thanks Karla and Blake for joining us! We are blessed to have you for friends!
I love you, Bookie!
A yummy Asian restaurant we ate at overlooking the waves we had just boogie boarded in.
I think something bad is about to happen!
Cute couple - scary waves and storm.
Blue water - where are the blue skies?
Braving the strong winds and watching the amazing waves!
This was in the middle of one of the buildings at one of the other Grand Oasis Resorts.
I am glad we didn't break the palm tree!
Shopping is fun for everyone! These masks were great!
Blake actually bought his mask and thought about wearing it in the airport, but decided airport security might not like that. Good decision Blake!
Abby and I joined Carrie, Sybil, Kristy, and Kyra for a trip to a local pumpkin patch. I was pretty impressed with the set up they had out there. First, the girls enjoyed watching a neat video on how a pumpkin starts from just a little seed. From there we headed to a fun maze which even gave the adults some trouble. After that, we petted a pig, and bunny, and fed chickens and goats grass. The kids played on the playground before getting on a hay ride to the pumpkin patch. At the pumpkin patch we dressed a naked scarecrow and had fun taking lots of pictures. The girls got to choose a little pumpkin, too. It was a fun outing for sure! (Avery was in school or she would have joined us. Next year I plan to take both girls.)
The three cutie pies!
They found each other in the maze!
Not sure what to think about the pig.
Abby's new friend.
She sure enjoyed those chickens!
On the bumpy hay ride.
I love ya, sweet Abby!
On top of the world! (or hay)
Abby feeling sorry for the poor naked scarecrow.
The scarecrow looked much better with his clothes on.
That was a lot of fun! We will be back next year!
We had our annual Fall Festival at the preschool. Dad and Gina joined us for this fun occasion. We spotted them in the parking lot dressed as a hobo couple. It was too funny! The girls loved it! Gina even had a stuffed dog on a leash to complete the costume. I was joking when I had talked with Dad earlier that day. The last think I told him was, "Don't forget your costume!" I was totally joking, but he and Gina got their creative minds working and pulled these outfits off in a few hours!
The girls had a ball, as usual, playing all the games, eating hot dogs, and going trick-or-treating.
Let the fun begin!
Grampy and Abby going fishing.
What will Avery catch?
On Halloween we had a terrific time at Park Avenue's Fall Festival. The weather was perfect and the girls enjoyed all the activities. Wes and I even got in the bounce house and jumped with them. It was a good work out! That night we took the girls trick-or-treating around our neighborhood. When we got back home the girls raced to the door every time the doorbell rang so they could pass out candy. As our candy began to dwindle I asked the girls if there was any candy in their buckets they would like to give other kids. They both shouted, "Yea!" so we dumped all their candy out and they picked out tons of candy to give away. That shocked me that they were willing to share their loot.
Good times with the family!
It's apple pickin' time!
Thanks for painting my face Jessica!
Kayla concentrating on her lovely artwork.
Brittany was also Tinkerbell. I originally got this costume for Avery to be a butterfly, but she thought it looked more like Tinkerbell. Whatever!
A couple of weekends ago we went back to Abilene for our ten year college reunion at ACU. Yes, we are that old! I will always consider Abilene as one of my homes. (I guess I have three homes, Kenya, Abilene, and Denison.) I will always have fond memories of the 11 years I spent in that great town. (Notice I said "great" town not beautiful.) It was especially neat to take the girls and show them where I grew up and to show them ACU's campus. We even showed them one of my Christmas trees that we planted in our front yard when I was in middle school. It is really tall now and it brought back sweet memories of Christmas with my family. Wes and I drove them by different places we lived during our college years and shared stories of different things that had happened during our time in Abilene. It was pretty sweet that they actually cared and seemed interested.
When we arrived on Friday I headed to the Queen's Tea, an event that honored the homecoming queen nominees from 10 years ago, as well as this year's nominees. My good friend and old roommate, Holly, was being honored. The nominees got to invite friends and family. It was fun catching up with friends that I hadn't seen in a long time.
The nominees from our year and friends.
Soon after that I met up with Wes and the girls for some shopping at the ACU Bookstore, dinner with Paul and Audrey, Summer and Chad, Julia and Cory, and all their little kiddos. It was pretty fun watching all the kids get along like they had known each other for a while.
Julia, Baby Lila, Summer, Kristin, and I in the Campus Center.
Ava, Emma, Addie, Avery, and Abby had more fun pushing each other in the stroller and sliding in the Campus Center.
After dinner we went to the carnival. Yes, ACU does homecoming very well with lots of family oriented activities. The carnival was lots of fun! I was glad the girls were in good spirits despite the long day and no naps. The petting zoo was the biggest hit. The girls thoroughly enjoyed holding chicks and a bunny and feeding the goats and llama.
Abby trying to get the bean bag into the wildcat's mouth.
Let's try fishing!
Can we take it home, Mom?
What do you like better, the lollipop or the chick?
Could we at least take the bunny with us?
What a sweet bunny. I was afraid she was going to take off from Abby.
Goats with bandannas? Really?
Reaching up to the llama who is sporting a bandanna, too.
The carnival didn't wear us out too bad, so we kept the good times rollin'. We headed over to Taylor and Heather's house to visit and see even more friends. On a side note, Heather and I were in the same youth group at Hillcrest from 6th-12th grade. I am so thankful that they provided a place for all of us to get together and hang out and just catch up.
We headed back to the hotel pretty late that night which made me even more thankful that I had decided not to wake up for our club breakfast. Sorry ladies!
The next morning we met up with Alexis and her gang and Amy and Ginny for the homecoming parade. We had a good time watching the parade go by. It seemed like a bigger deal when we were actually in it. It seemed like we put an awful lot of effort into our floats for club. Ha!
Watching the parade.
After the parade we headed to Chapel. It was wonderful to worship once again in Moody Coliseum. We felt a little bad skipping out towards the end to meet our Denison ACU students at Betty Rose's Bar-B-Que. Amy and Ginny got to come with us, too. The girls had fun playing while we visited. Seeing all our old youth group members in Abilene brought my heart a lot of joy. Just knowing how much my experiences at ACU helped shape me made me happy that they were getting to experience some of the same things. The relationships and experiences are truly priceless!
I gave in to Wes and went to the football game. Thankfully, Amy and Ginny were there too, and we met up with some other friends once we got there.
Willie the Wildcat and some random boy who wanted to be in the picture. Was he hitting on our girls?
That night we had a special dinner just for our class. Childcare was provided which was a nice plus. About 180 people from our graduating class made it, which is awesome! We had some good laughs and shared some good times.
Best friends since middle school and high school. Lauren we missed ya!
It was wonderful to see Amy again. Her and her family are only in the states for less than a year before they head back to Paraguay where they are medical missionaries.
Hall-mates, roommates, we sure had a lot of fun together!
Cory and Julia - I have fond memories of doing our Bible study together and going on a Spring Break Campaign.
Summer and Chad - lots of fun times with you all, too.
Greg Jones and Wes - these two could get into some serious trouble together.
It was was truly a wonderful weekend! It was such a blessing to meet up with everyone again. There have been births, deaths, sickness, health, hard times and good times. But through it all we recognize that God is good. He does have a plan and He will take care of us. Sharing that belief with a large group of friends through the years provides strength and encouragement that really cannot be explained. Thank you God, for blessing us with great friends!