Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrated with some new friends and without some key family this year. JoDee was in Virginia preparing to be commissioned for permanent assignment with the International Mission Board.We are excited to see her fulfilling the calling on her life, but missed her today!
The table looked beautiful thanks to Grammy and the kids and we had so much GREAT food. The usual turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry butter and rolls, cranberry jello mold. We made thankfulness rolls from a magazine article. Each person filled out a slip of paper with what they were thankful for and we buttered the strips and rolled them up into crescent rolls. Then, at dinner, we pulled out the strip and had fun trying to guess who wrote what. Great in theory, but pulling out the strips wasn't easy and destroyed the crescent roll and one person at half the strip because she forgot about the paper! Probably won't do that again, but it was fun and new. For dessert, we had pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate cake, lemon bars and key lime bars and homemade vanilla whipped cream.
I didn't do a very good job of photo documenting the day, but did talk the kids into going outside for a few pics since they were all dressed up...you can tell they were thrilled!
Thinking of those who couldn't be with us today. We love you lots!
August 11th was Riley's big day! I feel sorry for him because his day was a bit overshadowed by our annual church event Easter in August where we were volunteering all day. He rolled with it and decided for his birthday he would rather travel 1 1/2 hours to the closest Texas Roadhouse as a family to celebrate. So the next day, after church, we went to Wesley Chapel for lunch. We ate our weight in rolls and all had a great time. Our waiter had Riley convinced that they didn't have any birthday rituals after I asked about embarrassing saddle rides and birthday announcements to the entire restaurant...and the rest of us were convinced too until...
He got up fairly quickly and sat in the saddle, I was worried he would just refuse, much like he did when he was three years old at his preschool Christmas program (one of my favorite memories of him when he was little--seems like so long ago that he was "little"!!) when he was supposed to wear antlers and jingle a bell as he sang. He took the antlers off three times before the teacher finally gave up and didn't make him put them back on. He sat and stared out into the crowd as his classmates belted out the adorable songs they worked weeks to learn. We laughed so hard and thought we might be getting a glimpse of his personality.
Turns out we were right! He is not a go with the crowd kind of guy unless he agrees with what the crowd is doing. He has his own idea of what is cool and his parents can't change his mind either! He LOVES shoes and loves the Nike website where you can design your own cleats, basketball shoes, or any athletic shoes. He asks to go to Ross almost every week because they have inexpensive name brand shoes and get in new shipments every week. Further, he is now in a size 13 and they always have a lot of selection since its not a popular size. He also loves any sport, playing football, basketball and soccer this year. He enjoys working out and playing basketball or swimming at the community center in our neighborhood and was very consistent in doing that even by himself this summer. His hard work has paid off for football this fall. He was named a captain of his team even though he is one of the youngest kids on the team. He is playing defensive end and tight end. Its been difficult for him to learn to catch the ball while getting hit (he has been the one to deliver the hits in the past!) and even more difficult to watch from the stands. I never knew they don't have a rule like in the NFL for the "defenseless receiver". He has been hit brutally a couple times already while stretching up for a catch.
Now for Riley's statistics: Height: 6'1" (>99%ile) Weight: 152 (96%ile). What he wants to be when he grows up: professional basketball or football player, policeman. Loves listening to music (Skillet, Lecrae), quoting Bill Cosby and competing. He makes me laugh. He has managed to learn to juggle a demanding sports schedule with his school work (with some reminders) and is consistently on the honor roll.
You changed everything when you came into our lives. You are the exact opposite of your older brother and keep us on our toes constantly. You are a precious gift from God and bring so much laughter to our family. We are so proud of your dedication and determination and willingness to work hard. You are a positive role model for your siblings and teammates. Keep up the good work! God has a plan for your life and we pray that you seek that path with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!
Time marches on and is no respecter of my intentions! I am embarrassed that it has taken me so long to get this posted! Holden turned 11 recently and had a low key party with a couple friends at the pool and wanted an Olympic ring birthday cake to acknowledge the start of this year's games on the same day as his birthday. He has decided he wants to be an Olympic athlete and is now trying to decide what event he will compete in. I already burst his bubble by telling him that many athletes have trained since preschool, but so far he is not put off. Got to love his optimism!
Holden is our very special youngest boy who is very smart (nearly straight A's every year), and to whom most things come easily. He rode a bike without training wheels before he turned 4! Having two big brothers has always motivated him! He thinks the point of most activities is to have fun, including the van ride to school (about three miles from our house). He loves to play any game and is a fierce competitor. He loves chess and I quit playing with him years ago because he could beat me so quickly and decisively! Too bad that isn't an Olympic sport! I think if ping pong is then chess should be too...but I digress! He is currently playing basketball and football. After faithfully attending conditioning all summer long, he has earned a starting spot on the offensive line of his football team (he is proud to play the same position as Michael Ohr--The Blind Side movie). We were fairly surprised because its only his second season and he is the youngest boy on his team. He is playing with some kids who have played for 7 years and are 13 years old! He tries very hard and is fairly...ahem...bulky and strong, so those are all in his favor! Its pretty amazing what they go through at practices and games in the heat and with the sun beating down on them! They have all earned my respect as I sit in the shade and drip with sweat!
I think I posted on FB about his latest statistics, but here they are again for posterity: Height: 5'0" (81%ile)
Weight: 112 (93%ile). What he wants to be when he grows up? Still trying to decide between Air Force Pilot and Dermatologist. He was just baptized recently and is in 5th grade. He loves video games (of course!), legos, swimming, playing any board game or card game and eats almost anything I put in front of him.
My favorite memory of something cute Holden said was the topic of conversation today at lunch and I thought many of you might enjoy it too. I was VERY pregnant with Alayna and he was almost three years old. We were chatting with Darryl and Kathy Lindley at church one Sunday and I was standing directly across from Darryl with Holden in between us just about belly button height at the time. He was looking at my belly, then Darryl's belly back and forth and I could see the wheels turning, but I wasn't fast enough to stop what came out of his mouth. He gently laid his hand on Darryl's belly and asked, "That yours baby?" I was mortified for a split second before Darryl threw his head back and laughed out loud.
You are such a special blessing to our family! I know God has lots of plans for your life. We are so glad God chose us to be your parents and are looking forward to watching you grow into the man He wants you to be!
All six of us went to Adventure Island recently with the kids' school. The big boys had a great time and enjoyed some freedom to hang out with their friends while we stayed close to the youngest and had a great time watching Alayna enjoy the rides and slides for the first time. Several of her good friends were there too and she thoroughly enjoyed the day as we all did. We were sitting together at the table after dinner reflecting on the day. She told me it was on the list of her favorite days included with our swim with the manatees last year for her birthday and also our Disney cruise for Gabe's 13th birthday. I was impressed she remembered either! Then she asked me what my favorite day was. I thought for just a few seconds, days like my wedding day (AWESOME day), graduation days (there were three!), landing a job, the birth of my children all flooded into my mind.
My mind settled on the day of her birth. Not because I love her any more than my boys, Lord knows that is impossible! I think its my favorite because of the anticipation it accompanied, followed by the most unbelievable words..."You got your girl." Those four words I will never forget. My doctor, after catching the baby turned her toward her dad and allowed him to make the announcement by asking, "What have you got Dad?" I hadn't dared hoped for a girl after so many boys. Seems the track record was rather proven. After two heartbreaking miscarriages, I was so delighted to carry this baby to term that I truly was ecstatic to be having a fourth, the sex didn't matter. But, there were a few moments when I would let my mind wander to the thoughts of my reaction if in fact we did discover she was a girl on the day of her birth. I thought I might scream and rejoice very loudly, and then would push those thoughts from my mind.
Deciding to be surprised this last time was so much part of the fun of that day. I cried several times that day: on the way to the hospital, while I was in labor (we can probably blame that on the hormones and PAIN!) just to know that the anticipation was coming to a close and we were finally going to have an end to the mystery! I actually thought I was keeping the anticipation alive so I could at least buy a couple girl outfits for the "just in case its a girl" as I truly thought those were the only girly things I would purchasing for a daughter of my own. I just didn't want to spend even one single second feeling the tiniest bit disappointed if the baby was a boy.
Turns out, I was speechless and unable to make a sound at the time Paul spoke those words. We recently watched the video of her birth and verified that. Frankly, she was making enough noise for the two of us! Since that day, she has brought so much joy and diversity to our house! While you can imagine, with three big brothers, she isn't always the girliest girl (asked for a batman cake for her 4th birthday), but she loves to color, draw, twirl and TALK! She has never been interested in baby dolls, but swaddles and cares tenderly for her stuffties as she calls them. She has such a tender heart and is growing tall and willowy. She seems to love sports like her brothers too and is looking very much forward to starting volleyball and continuing basketball. Now the anticipation continues as we wait out see what plans God has for our special, precious gift.
We love you and are so blessed to be your parents! We are proud of the young lady you are growing up to be. We pray you continue to search for God's will in your life and allow Him to guide your every step!
All our love,
Mom and Dad
Alayna found this patch of flowers as we were waiting at a park.She enjoyed picking them without knowing I was snapping pictures like crazy! Love that girl!