family

I absolutely love apple picking with my kiddos. 

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This year I found a great price on delicious locally grown honey crisp apples at the local grocery store and we enjoyed them all fall and I was so tempted to skip out on apple picking b/c we had already enjoyed such delicious apples this fall.  But apple picking is about so much more than the apples for me.

It’s the memories.

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I love walking through the rows of apple trees.  I love watching the kids pick apples.  I love the big blue skies, the fall colors, the cool air and warm sunshine.  I love fall.  I love pretending we live in the country even though we live in suburbia.

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And so I was so grateful that we were able to slip away for a few hours this weekend and pick apples together as a family.

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Fall fun at its finest…

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1o years ago Scott and I went before our church and made a commitment before God to raise our son as a disciple of our Lord Jesus Chris.  Father’s day weekend, 2004, we rejoiced with our congregation as he was baptized.  This was not a sign of our sons salvation.  It was the sign of God’s promise to save and cleans sinners who call upon Him.  Our son was not saved, but we rejoiced in the seal representing God’s power to save.  In June 2004 our son was accepted into our church family to be raised as a disciple in the community of believers.

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This weekend, we watched our saved son go up before that same congregation and make a public profession of his faith.  Our son has accepted the promise and this weekend he was recognized as a full member of our church.

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What a blessed experience!

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I remember vividly when he was four years old and he first told us that he had asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins.  We had prayed with him before bed and I prayed something to the effect of, “please draw him closer to you, help him to know you as a his Savior and to seek to glorify you with his life.”  After saying Amen, he said, “Why do you pray that every day?”  We answered, because that is our hearts BIGGEST desire.  We want nothing more than for him to know Jesus as his Savior.   He replied, “I do.  I prayed to Jesus one night in bed.  I told him I was sorry for my sins and asked him to be my Savior.  You don’t need to keep praying for that.”

Since then I have truly seen God at work in his heart and life.    He is far from perfect.  But, I see a genuine desire to glorify God with his life.  And nothing, nothing gives me more joy than to see my child walking with the Lord.

3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

My heart was so full this weekend and adding to that precious experience was the fact that our extended family came to witness the event.  As we filled two pews with grandparents, uncles, aunt and TONS of cousins, my heart was overflowing with gratitude.  What a blessing to be able to raise my children in an extended family of believers.  What a blessing to know that not only Scott and I are praying for and seeking to model Christ to our kids, but their entire extended family is as well.

Psalm 100:5, “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

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This year in History we are studying American History from the explorers to the war on 1812.  I love history.  It is my favorite part of home schooling.  And I am so grateful that we live within driving distance of so many great historical sites. 

I really wanted to take the kids to Philadelphia  for a day trip over spring break.    Scott graciously rearranged his work schedule so that he could join us.  (because he is the best ever)…. I love day trips with the family.  It was such a relaxing, low key day.  We left the house a little before 9 am and were home just before 9:30.  We saw all that I wanted us to see and had an enjoyable dinner in historic Philadelphia. IMG_1827

I know I mentioned it this summer, but I gotta say it again.  The Junior Ranger programs that the US National Parks do is just fabulous.  Especially for elementary age kids.  It gives them something to do while waiting in line.  It teaches them a thing or two and keeps them engaged.  I love it.  This year the Historical Parks also added trading cards.   Anytime a kid sees a park ranger they can ask for a trading card.  The rangers will give them a card after answering a trivia question.   They made the questions age appropriate… for my 3 year old they would pretty much accept the answer “Philadelphia” to almost any question.  Smile  The older ones had to work a little harder for it… but what they didn’t know is they were learning more information in the process.  (sneaky rangers)  My kids LOVED this!

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We visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the US Mint.  It was really interesting to learn the history of our currency and to watch money being made right before our eyes.  (sadly we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside of the US Mint).  We saw several historical paintings, saw the actual chair George Washington sat in at the Continental Congress and stood in the room where the founding fathers signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  We even ate dinner in the building where our forefathers ate and met years ago.  We learned about Ben Franklin’s printing shop, and watched how the printing press worked.  Then we visited the original Post Office and mailed ourselves an envelope so we could have it hand stamped with Ben Franklin’s post office stamp. IMG_1787

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I was more than a little awestruck by the history.  History makes me so reflective and contemplative.  Would I be able to do what they did?  Would I be able to risk my life, my family’s life and our well being for the good of our country?  After watching a movie at the visitor center we asked the kids which side they think they would have sided with.  My 9 year old very wisely answered, “I really don’t know because I haven’t been through what they had been through.”  If I am honest, I don’t know either, but I do know that I am grateful for the wisdom, bravery, and sacrifices made by our founding fathers. 

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It’s funny how our New Years Eve festivities have changed through the years.  Scott and I have never been big party animals, but we did go to downtown Pittsburgh on Dec 31, 1999 to ring in the new millennium with a kiss on the Roberto Clemente bridge.   For several years we would watch the fireworks in Annapolis at midnight.

Then we had kids.

And New Years became a stay at home night.  Some years we’d have friends over, some years we’d do an in home date night of dinner and a movie after the kids were in bed. 

The past few years New Years has been a Family Fun Night. 

Last night we sat around the table and talked through the year… we broke it into quarters and talked about some of the highlights of those months.

2013 was an epic year for the circus family. 

We went on a mega vacation.  Without a doubt that was one of the major highlights of our year.  6 months later and when the kids recall our trip, their highlights were Mt Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, prairie dogs, and the choo choo trains.  When we are out driving and see the sunset our three year old will exclaim, “Look a sunset just like on vacation!”  As I recall my blessings in 2013, that trip is  without a doubt one of my greatest blessings.  I am so thankful for the opportunity we had to spend 3 weeks together away from home, as a family seeing our beautiful country.  I don’t know if any trip could top it ever. 

We also grew our family… TWICE this summer with the addition of our beloved pup Wendy and our patient and slightly bipolar cat Cartwheel.  I am grateful for both of them and the joy they bring our family. 

Other highlights as we recounted the year was our Labor Day tradition, our 6 year olds first lost tooth, our son starting Jui Jitsu and even competing in his first tournament, our 6 year old joining the gymnastics team, our 7 year old scoring her very first 9 in a gymnastics meet, our sons 1st NFL game, , getting to spend time with their cousins, and swimming in the summer.  Honestly, it was a ridiculously good year for us.

After recounting our blessings, we headed downstairs for some family fun. We watched Monsters University, then dived into some chocolate fondue at 11:00 PM and started pulling out the party supplies… IMG_9840IMG_9834

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Our girls know how to party hardy… Our seven year old is most def the night owl of the bunch… I think she could have held on past 1 am if I had let her.  She was in a fantastic mood.  I gotta tell you my boys battled some illness all day… with temperatures over 100 they were downing ibuprofen every 6 hours and the 3 year old was taking his nebulizer every 4 hours.  It def wasn’t their happiest of New Years for them, but they hung in their like troopers till midnight. 

This year we added confetti to the New Years festivities… which was super fun (and super messy).  new years eve collage 1

Today marks a new month and a new year.  As I look back on 2013 I am very grateful for the memories and good times that our family had.    I am mindful though that not everyone had such a banner year.    Some people that I know, some people that I love dearly, had a very difficult 2013.   I don’t know what 2014 will hold for us.   But, I do know that God is the same, unchanging good God in the good years and in the bad and my prayer is that our family will praise His name ALWAYS in any and every situation. 

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A Relaxing Christmas

December 29, 2013

in Christmas,family

It has been a very relaxing Christmas vacation at the circus house.  My sister in law and her family came in to town the evening of the 23rd.  We had too much fun making cupcakes for the kids for baby Jesus’ bday party on Christmas night.  She is an awesome trooper.  She happily obliged my request to roll out 19 baby Jesus figurines out of marshmallow fondant at 10:00pm.  Seriously, worlds best sister in law.   IMG_9448

Christmas Eve was low key.  We did a gingerbread house with the kiddos.  Which was a mess.  I think it remained standing for all of 2 hours before it collapsed on itself.  But, we had fun and that was the idea. 

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Scott and I took our nephews to the playground for a little while so we could have some time alone with them.  Then the girls went with my sister in law to Nana’s to do a little cooking, while I grabbed a shower and tidied up the house.

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Then it was church in evening and Scott and I started wrapping Christmas presents at 9pm on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day we lived in our PJs.  My parents, Scott’s parents and Scott’s sister and her family came for the day.  We opened presents in the morning.  And then spent the day in our pjs hanging out and playing.  In the evening we enjoyed lasagna for dinner and Jesus’ birthday cupcakes for dessert.

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My brother and his kids were supposed to come for dinner and to spend the night, but the kids got sick and weren’t up to traveling.  I missed them immensely

Since Christmas, the low key easy going status quo has continued.  I can’t believe Scott only has 3 days left of vacation and the kids and I only have a week.  I am loving the break. 

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Nothing like a back seat driver. 

Especially a 3 year old back seat driver.

At 1 am.  On a Snow covered back country road.

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As we slip slided around the roads approaching my parents the other night, I seriously thought we might end up in a ditch and all the while my 3 year old was WIDE awake and chattering non stop about all the snow.  He kept saying, “Dad, don’t get in an accident.  We wouldn’t want to get in an accident and die dad.” 

Over and over. 

Truthfully, it provided a little comic relief to Scott and I as the conditions were less than ideal.

Thankfully, we made it safely.  And my dad greeted us with his plow and tractor.  At 2 am.  He was out plowing the driveway.  My three old thought he was out to give him a tractor ride.  We figured, “Why not.  It wasn’t like he was asleep.”  Besides, how often do you get the opportunity for a 2 am tractor ride in the snow. 

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The snow was gorgeous and we had a wonderful day on Wednesday.  My poor mom had to work, so I offered to bake the pies.  I baked while my Dad and Scott played in the snow with the kids.  All day. 

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Then, the only thing that could make playing in 8 inches of snow at your grandparents EVEN MORE FUN, was the addition of 4 cousins and an uncle.  IMG_8300

Thanksgiving was a low key relaxing day.  We did a photo opp for Grandma’s Christmas card.  They went sledding again.  They did crafts and my grandparents came for a visit.   Then we ate our feast, enjoyed those pies and ended it all with watching the Steelers/Ravens game.  It was an ALMOST perfect day.  (darn that painful loss to our rival)

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It was a wonderful visit.  Full of family and fun and snuggles, beautiful snow and yummy food.  I am grateful, so very grateful for my family and the opportunity to spend a few days with them.

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