Saturday, November 22, 2014

Family Updates--and news on upcoming surgery


Honestly, when I felt God calling me to homeschool our kids, I really questioned it.  I was really looking forward to having some "me time" while the kids were in school someday.  And by "me time" I mean some time where I could get the house cleaned, meals planned and prepped, grocery shopping complete, laundry and dishes done, errands run, bills paid--and hey, maybe even get a work-out done.  So, when God called me to homeschooling I really wondered--"how in the world am I going to get everything done AND teach our kids?" Well, God has a way of equipping you for things He has called you.  While I will admit I am not always able to get everything done that needs to get done on a daily basis, I am able to do the important things.  Perhaps in a few years and after experience, I will be better in this role.  And being the kids' primary teacher has been so much fun!  Of course I know how they learn better than anyone else does (after all, they are our kids!), so it is fun tailoring their education to their specific learning styles.  It is a blessing to watch them learn something for the first time--like reading, or spelling, or math, etc.  I get to see all of those "a-ha" moments that are followed by the biggest smiles ever! So, I have a much different (and better) attitude towards God's call now.  I felt a bit like Moses at first when God first called Him to talk to Pharaoh and the millions of Israelites ("you are wanting me to do what, Lord?  But....").   But now I am in the "thankfulness" state and am praising God for allowing me the time and health to teach our kids.  I get to be with them nearly every. waking. moment.  :-)  And, we get to take field trips whenever we want!  Here are some photos from some of our recent field trips.

Checking out a monument in front of the Texas Memorial Museum

Luke is seeing what it was like back in the days of the pioneers.  Here, he is pretending to fetch some water for a bath.
Abbey's turn to do the same.

imagining what it would be like to live on a farm in the pioneer days.
checking out an old horse-drawn carriage.

Creating at the Thinkery

Like many people this season, our family has been stricken with a slew of illnesses recently.  Abbey and I have this awful cough/congestant that has lasted for several weeks.  The doctor put her on an antibiotic on Thursday, so I am hoping she improves.  She actually feels completely fine--just has the awful sounding chest congestion.  I do as well--of course, when a cancer survivor has a cough that won't go away, our minds often go to the idea of it being cause by metastasis of cancer to the lungs.  So, for me, we are waiting until after Thanksgiving.  If I still have the chest cough and wheezing we will do a chest X-ray.   Luke and I were also both stricken with a bout of Food Poisoning last weekend.  I am 99% sure it was food poisoning, because we both ate the same exact thing at a restaurant and then both became sick at the exact same amount of time later.   Needless to say, we are all ready to be completely healed!   I just made a homemade decongestant/expectorant I found here on the website today.  Hopefully, it will begin working soon.

Upcoming Surgery:
As a part of my ongoing cancer treatment, I am having my ovaries removed on December 15.   Because my cancer is estrogen positive (meaning estrogen makes the cancer grow), the less estrogen in my body, the better.  Thus, I have finally come to terms that this means having my ovaries removed is a good idea.  It has been such a tough decision--especially at my age.  It is a decision that took a really long time to make.  And honestly, I still don't have 100% peace about it.  No ovaries means instant menopause--in my 30's.     Estrogen provides so many health benefits to one's body--it is helpful for bone health, brain health, skin health, sexual health--pretty much everything.  So, life without the ovaries will bring about some issues we will have to try to tackle with health supplements.   Prayers for peace with the decision (if it be a good decision), would be greatly appreciated.   Recovery shouldn't be too difficult.  The surgery will be robot-assisted and lifting restrictions should only be a couple of weeks.  I am going to miss not working out for a while though, because I have really been enjoying being consistent with working out.

We are already excited about Christmas y'all!  I know--it's not even Thanksgiving yet.  But Thanksgiving is so late this year.  We decided to get down our Christmas decorations at the beginning of the week this week, and slowly get things out.  The kids have really been enjoying helping decorate.  Luke helped me decorate the tree one day.  He was such a good helper.  As we put the ornaments upon the tree, we talked about Jesus Christ, our savior and the reason we celebrate.  So, even decorating was a fun learning experience.  By starting early, our hope is to have everything up by December 1, so we have some time to enjoy it all.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fall Family Fun

Fall is definitely my favorite season.  It is my favorite for so many reasons:  the weather, football, the weather, pumpkin-everything, the weather.  But one of the main reasons it is my favorite is because of the gorgeous weather--have I mentioned that yet?  

When fall brings the cooler temperatures, I just want to stay outside all. day. long.  Central Texas has the best fall weather ever!  Drew had last week off and has the coming week off as well.  It was sort of a surprise, so we had things scheduled for some of the days already.  However, on Friday, we had nothing on our schedule; so we declared it a fun family day.  And man, oh man, God gave us the most absolutely perfect weather to enjoy it!!!!

We went to the Austin Nature and Science center (which is awesome, beautiful and FREE), we had a delicious lunch at a new restaurant together, and then we had an amazing hike along the greenbelt in Austin. I was just giddy and couldn't quit telling Drew and the kids about how much fun I was having!  We brought the camera along and captured some of our little moments.  

Luke and Abbey are just so precious together sometimes.  They were just walking a long, holding hands at the Nature and Science Center.  Here, Luke is telling Abbey about the Barred Owl.  

Me and my sweet boy at the Nature and Science Center.

We tried to make the day as educational as possible as well.  We tried to interject plenty of learning moments.  One thing homeschooling Luke and Abbey has taught me is that there are so many "teaching moments" if you look for them and be intentional about using them.  We had a contest to try to find the "coolest creation" in nature.  On our hike, this was one of the first we saw.  It was a neat rock with several fossils on it.  Abbey was feeling it's cool temperature and fun textures here.  
just enjoying each other in the beautiful setting and weather.
Abbey loves to give eskimo kisses--even on hiking breaks.
I'm sure you could guess who was always in the lead during our hike!

a message along our hike.

There were even some tricky areas on our hike.  Like this steep one...
And this one along a cliff with a tiny walkway and chain.  2 years ago, I would have never let Luke do this, but he is SO much more careful now.

We also took plenty of breaks to take in the gorgeous scenery:

and just to be silly.
I found a boulder to set the camera on for this self-timer photo.  It was just so pretty in that spot and wanted to capture the beauty.

And Luke ended up finding the "coolest creation in nature" for the day.  We were along a cliff,  and he pointed up.  As soon as we looked, we saw the largest bee hive I had ever seen.   There were thousands of bees swarming and inside.  It was definitely cool--but we didn't stay there for long.  Later, we found out that the cliff is actually called, "bee hive cliff."  

I am so thankful for SO MUCH.  Spending gorgeous days with my wonderful family in God's beautiful creation is just one of them.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Happy Halloween!

We were able to travel to Oklahoma to visit family over Halloween weekend this year.  This is the second year that we have been able to be there on Halloween.  It is so much fun to watch the Oklahoma cousins dress up and trick-or-treat together.  Also, my cousins and Uncle Ronnie/Aunt Brenda have been putting on a super-fun Halloween party for the past few years, and it has been fun to participate in the last couple.

For this post, I am just going to share some fun photos from our weekend there.  There isn't anything much cuter than little kids dressed up in adorable costumes!  Enjoy!

First off though, I must share this photo of Abbey.  On Wednesday night before Halloween, Luke and Abbey had a party at AWANA.  They were allowed to dress up in fun costumes for their party.  Since we were packing their Halloween costume, we just let them pick from dress-up stuff they had in their closets.  Abbey went as a little fairy.   I thought she was pretty cute, and had to snap a quick picture of her--even though she didn't want to look at the camera.  :-)

So, we traveled to Oklahoma the next morning and the Halloween fun began!

a pre-trick-or-treating photo

Luke and Abbey were the lion and puppy (Toto) from Wizard of oz.

I just could not get enough of the cuteness that was Abbey!

roaring, of course!
Lilly was a ladybug
Linnea was a bee.  My sister made both of their costumes.  I think she did an awesome job.
sweet Batgirl, Kaylee
The kids LOVED running to each house and trick-or-treating.
Abbey was pleased with her first candy pick.
I think you can tell here they ran from house to house.  :-)
Telling secrets.

The next day, we got dressed up for the annual Halloween party:

and there is the rest of the Wizard of Oz characters.

I didn't take too many photos at the party--there was so much fun going on.  But, I did get a few of the sack races.  I just thought Abbey was too adorable in the sack race!

The "big kids" even participated!
Abbey was attached to her cousin, Kaylee pretty much the whole time we were there.  It was so precious to watch.  Kaylee is SO nurturing and "took care" of Abbey all weekend.  There were tons of hugs, hand holding and kisses all weekend long!  Drew snapped a photo of one of the precious moments with his phone:

Fun memories made!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Long time, no see. Catching up.

First off, I apologize to those of you who read this blog for my absence.  God has called me to serve in new ways this year--the time involved in this service has consumed my allotted blogging time.  However, it is right where God wants me for now.   But, I still desire to regularly blog.  There is so much that I want to keep as my life's journal--especially so that our kids can read this someday and see what God has taught me, see what fun memories we made and know me even more by seeing different aspects of my heart.

For now though, I am going to rapid-fire as many posts as I can and publish them over the next couple of days.  These will likely be short and sweet with lots of photos.  But, it is better than nothing.  :-)

Luke's best friend, his cousin Traber, visited a few weeks ago.  They had a blast, as usual.  They get along so well.  At the beginning of their visit, they sound just like brothers who have been away from each other for a while.  Near the end of their visit, they sound like brothers who have spent a little too much time together--ha!  Either way, they love each other so much--like close siblings.  Luke always talks about Traber to new friends as if he sees him every week.  Traber now has a sweet baby brother--Sawyer.  Here are some photos from our long weekend with my brother, Jeremy, sister-in-law, Brandy and their sweet boys.

We visited the (free) Austin Science and Nature center.  The kids had a blast there as usual.  We always end our trip there with a dig in the dino pit.

Little miss expressive Abbey is talking about how she is digging for something here.  Notice her hand--so prissy!

My brother secretly hid real treasures (money) in the sand when the boys weren't looking.  Once they found their first coin, that digging pace picked up rather rapidly.  It was fun to watch the boys get so excited!

Jeremy and Brandy at the Science and Nature Center's Dino Pit.
Silly Traber!
Baby Sawyer--watching the OU game with daddy