Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bowling Sunday With Friends

Lately its been so cool because we have been getting Groupons and having more family adventures at a better price. Last Sunday we took our family bowling for more than half the price it would have cost for our family. Man, the month of June has been so fun and it's also been a very long month because of everything we have been doing.

 In one month we have gone ice skating, the teams have gone to a team camp out of town, We went to the lake, Ryan had surgery on his foot (not fun), we went bowling, and we went on family camping with the church.  This week we are having Vacation Bible School and Ryan and I volunteered as one of the leaders. I have been having the worst headaches ever because of the wildness from it but I love it and I'm having a blast. Of course Ryan's surgery wasn't fun but its definitely shaken things up a little bit for us. I am proud of the good attitude Ryan is having still being he has to be in a cast during the fun month. 

When some people from church wanted to go bowling together, I was excited to take my family to bowl with them. Sometimes I'm still so amazed at the friends I have gained in the last 10 months. I feel so blessed and sometimes I still can't believe it. This year has definitely been a new year for us and much, much needed spiritually and emotionally. I feel God has definitely led us to where we are and I have seen the evidence of it in my personal walk with God, which has grown significantly, and joy that I have not seen in myself for many years. Seeing the change in children and in my family as a whole. The fruits is what I'm looking at.
Anyway, here are some fun pics!! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Our First Camping Trip as a Family

We went camping this last weekend with some people from our church. It definitely felt safer for me and it was nice having an place to use the restrooms. It was a walk to it so I had brought our own potty to it that I had bought for last year's camping trip for the boys. I knew when my little kids had to go in the middle of the night we didn't want to be out walking in the cold.

 I knew it was going to be a challenge taking my 2 year old. Originally, I had set up a babysitter. She had even got the two days off but then I didn't know the camping trip actually went for another day. Sooooo, we took her and she definitely kept me on my toes. Juliet is my only baby that hates the stroller and hates the playpen. She knows she has 8 other people in our family to rescue her so she's a bit spoiled in that way. PLUS, I had friends camping with us. The teen girls are so sweet and they would always rescue her too. Finally, on the last day I said she could stay a little bit in her playpen watching the activities. Once she realized she wasn't be rescued, she chilled out and actually took a nap. :)

We had the worst wind while we were camping!! I had bought this awesome propane grill since there was a no fire ban. It was so hard to cook having this crazy wind trying to blow our flame out. We managed to still make coffee in the mornings with my french press. I brought pancakes, bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns for the morning. It was sooooo yummy and even better we were eating it in the woods.

 At night our church friends would get together and have a potluck. Ohhhhh, that was super cool because one of the guys had caught some trout that day and was making a bunch to share. I gravitated toward that table like a bug to a light. Haha. Was so good.

 It was so hard packing for a family of 9 to go camping. My boys for years have been the only one camping. I've always, always wanted to go as a family and we finally got a chance. But our girls had no idea what was needed for sleeping outdoors. I mean, we filled UP our 12 passenger van with kids and gear. I felt like we were moving. Haha.

 We had a 12 person tent with two rooms. It was so big we could easily fit a playpen for Juliet to sleep in and you didn't even noticed the loss of space. It was AWESOME. I had to buy sleeping bags,camp chairs, and a grill. So now that I have everything for camping I'm so wanting to go again next month because that was an investment. I seriously don't want to wait another year. It's summer time but it was soooo freezing at night there is no way in heck we are camping during cooler temperatures.

In fact, I had forgotten one sleeping bag. Mine. There was no way I was gonna take warmth away from any of my babies. The first night I just slept with no blanket and was freezing my butt off. I didn't sleep that well that night. LOL.

The second night Juliet got woken up after she had been sleeping for an hour. Well, it was like a power nap for her because she wouldn't fall back asleep till almost 2am. I was so exhausted from being at the lake that day it was torture trying to put her to sleep. I was too afraid to let her lay down with me because I was afraid she'd escape out of the tent after I fell sleep. So I crawled into her playpen like a stuffed pastry. I mean, I filled that thing. Didn't work. And she peed on me. Somehow when she was shifting around her diapered opened just enough to pee straight onto me. So in the dark and in the freezing cold I had to shift look around and find her more warm pj's. I was doubling up on her outfits at night too.

Ivy is Juliet's buddy so she got the idea to climb in with her instead. Oh my gosh. Juliet instantly calmed down and went to sleep. They just have this special bong. I passed out like a dying animal. Charles was chucking because through all of that I had been mumbling that I was never going camping again for the rest of my life. At least with a toddler. The next day I'm like, "I love camping!" Haha.

We stayed for 3 days and 2 nights. In fact, we stayed till we had to be out and then just went back to the lake. We didn't get home till late Sunday night. Wow! I guess I love camping. Here is why I like camping so much. Yes, I had huge bursts of wind blowing dirt straight at us. I didn't sleep well. I learned to be smart like my friend and bring cushion to lay on rather than hard dirt. But I had nooooo obligations like I do at home. I didn't have to teach, do laundry, take care of the animals, clean. I felt great to know I could just sit around and talk or play with the kids. THAT IS AWESOME.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ryan's Surgery Experience

Ryan broke his foot at church camp.  He doesn't regret going because it was an incredible experience.  How was he to know sliding down a mud slide could cause a break?  It's just one of those freak things.  His foot was so swollen so I knew that could be a bad sign.  Sure enough he broke 3 bones.  The break is pretty bad actually and so it still can't be put in a cast and has to be monitored weekly.

Getting ready for surgery

We originally thought only one bone needed a pin but when the doctor took an xray from a different view, two bones were completely away from each other and had to be pinned together to start healing.

Ryan still waiting but we were enjoying our "oceanside view."

We were told to be at the hospital a day after we got back from our family camping trip (different blog story) and so Ryan and I went alone.  I knew all the walking on crutches was really hard and he was starting to get a rash under his arms.  We had to walk really far to get to his surgery area.  The whole process from surgery prep to leaving was 5 hours. He has two metal pins sticking out of the bottom of his foot and they won't be removed for 4 weeks

Waking up after surgery
 Ryan had a really good attitude the whole time but when they took him away to the surgery room he started shaking.  The nurse told me it would take an hour for the surgery but maybe longer because this doctor was a perfectionist.  A perfectionist?  Awesome. That's a very good thing.  It's a good thing I'm not a surgeon and there is a reason why I'm not. Ha.  "Here's some duck tape.  It should hold good 'nuff!" Haha.  Anyway, Ryan said it was weird to be talking to the doctors, not even know he passed out, then wake up in recovery.  It felt like it was 2 seconds.

But ohhhhhhh, the pain hit later and we had to start his meds because it was BAD.  I keep track on my phone because it's just too much to remember with rotating medicines.  Even these medicines don't take away the pain but it makes it tolerable. 

But guess what?  Both my parents and my in-laws gifted Ryan a knee scooter so he can still be a kid and get around easy.  He has been kinda down just laying around.  Not he's been getting around easy when needed when the pain isn't too bad.  I'm soooo happy for him!  This scooter is the cadillac of scooters.  It's smooth and rides fast.  he loves it.

Ryan on his medical knee scooter

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Broken Foot and Camp Memories

Ryan entertaining sister while waiting for doctor
So I took Ryan to the doctor to see exactly why he needed to be on crutches and what the damage was.  He had xrays and sure enough he had broken 3 bones in his foot while at camp.  Poor guy!  He hardly complained and was in good spirits even though he was hobbling around.  Thankfully, I already had crutches so I didn't have to buy another pair. 
Ryan with a temporary splint

Ryan will be seeing a specialist on Thursday and will get it set in a cast. For now they can't do it just yet because the foot is gonna swell some more.  He's in pain though and has to lay around mostly.  The doctor gave him strict orders to sit down with his foot elevated most of the time.  Only minimal walking around.  When he does have to walk, he gets pretty tired on the crutches.  Poor guy!  We are supposed to be camping this weekend.  :P  I have no idea how hard that's gonna be for him with the terrain.

He still says he is so happy he got to experience camp.  He had an amazing time!  My friend took these pics at camp and I'd love to share.

Ryan holding the team flag
Chaz and Ryan
Chaz jumping into mud pit
This is where Ryan broke his foot.  After you jump into mudpit, you go to the left and slide down a muddy slide.  Somehow he twisted it on his way down.  After he got home and we discussed the results of test, I asked Ryan to find the blessing in the situation. He thought about it for a minute and then said, 

"I don't have to do chores!"

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Once Step Closer to Moving Forward- Leaving the Bullies in the Past

My boys recently went on a church teen cabin trip out of town.  I insisted they go so they can get last year's horrible camping trip out of their memory.  

The one they went to last time was unbelievable. Basically they came home with broken spirits.  They went from loving camping to hating it and not wanting to ever go again.  Bullies were running rampant and nothing was done about it.  I'll never forget their faces when they came back home. Literally, you could feel the sadness in my boys for an entire month after that trip.  It was like a heavy depression was in the house.  My boys shared with me they felt unprotected, hurt, taken advantage of.  Worst of all, they felt the leaders protected the bullies.  Right then and there I said never again.  As long as it is in my ability as a parent, I will never allow bullies to get away with hurting others around me.  I told my boys I would never make them go back any situation like that again.  And they haven't.  

Teen praying before they head to camp
This time, I had found a new Christian camping trip.  I had gotten to know the leaders and these teens for about 9 months.  I was pretty confident in watching them that all the kids had respect for one another and there really was NO bullying allowed.  I was so grateful the leaders made sure it was a peaceful environment for everyone.  When a summer camp for 5 days was announced I knew it was my opportunity to give my boys a newer, better memory.  Even still, I was a bit afraid something bad would happen with other kids hurting my boys again.  I'm not the over protective type and it took me a really long time to finally see what my kids were going through.  I felt ashamed I had allowed them to get hurt for so long.

You can barely see Chaz and Ryan but they're there.  LOL
Today my boys came back encouraged, excited, made new friends, and came back even more closer to the teens they went with!  Praise God!  They had a church service every day and talked about how close they feel to God and what they learned.  Ryan came back on crutches but smiling and happy.  Chaz is burnt like crazy even after the leaders kept lathering him with high SPF lotion.  He is smiling from ear to ear.  Just all good memories and they couldn't wait to tell me about it.  I think this trip was like putting and keeping the past IN the past and moving forward.  

Chaz after his fun in mud pit.  :)
We can never let bullies win.  No matter how popular they are or how popular their parents are. Bullying is bullying and it does break precious spirits.  Every kid and adult is equal in God's eyes and we need to prove it by how we treat others.  Especially as representatives for who we serve.  I know I can't prevent all bullying, that's impossible.  However, I can do whatever is in my ability to stop it when I see it.  Whether it's my kids or someone else's.  No, it's not JUST WHAT KIDS DO.  All kids learn it from others.  Either they are learning it from home or from their peers.  Just because adults bully doesn't make it okay.  

Teen leader show how to jump in the mud pit!  
I really feel like this trip for my boys was like saying we're leaving the past in the past and moving forward to what God is holding for us in the future!  :D  To the ones who brought my boys, thank you so much for being amazing teen leaders.  I can see the difference and impact you are making on the kids around you. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Our First Adventure at the Lake!

Daddy and Ashley
I've been to the lake soooo many times when I was younger but for some reason we just never got around to taking our kids.  I'll tell you why I was hesitant.  The last experience I had at the lake was when I was 18 and there were a bunch of college girls swimming in thongs.  I was so afraid my kids, especially my boys, were gonna see that.  A friend invited us to go to a less popular lake so I thought we'd give it a shot.  

Caleb (4) and Ivy (8) with a friend in the middle
Wow!  It went great!  It only took an hour to get there and after we got past the crazy twists and turns next to cliffs, I finally took my hands off my eyes.  We found the lake and the atmosphere was just other families like us!  We unloaded our stuff as soon as we found our friends.  The kids were so excited but I wasn't ready to let them in the water till 3 of my younger ones had their life vests on.  Ivy kept trying to convince me she's a good swimmer.  She's a very good swimmer but this was the lake and I wasn't taking any chances. 

Me and my sweet teen Chaz
 We stayed for several hours, ate, swam, and fellowshipped with our friends.  I loved how part of the lake was beach style and slowly went down.  I was able to take my two babies in and let them play with waves barely hitting their ankles.  I was a nervous mama though so I was a bit relieved when Juliet was ready for her nap in the portable playpen.  Phew! 

Ashley hamming it up in the water

My friend Cheryl and I
 I'm sooooo not a morning person so when our friends invited us to get their close to dawn, I said no way.  Haha.  We are such night owls and preferred to watch the sunset there instead.  They were brave and got up early anyway without us.  Seriously, this family just takes so long to get out the door I knew it was too hard to leave early. Thankfully they were patient and waited for us.  :)

Juliet with friend Tiffany
Even though the kids swam for hours and hours, I had to pull them out of the water.  They were so bummed to leave.  Haha.  It was so beautiful being there.  I seriously do NOT like the state I live in and loooooong for a place that is green.  Finding a body of water bigger than a bathtub is kinda nice.

Taking one last pic with friends before they leave!

Monday, June 02, 2014

Our Ice Skating Adventure

Wow!  I had the most amazing weekend ever and my heart is so full from it all!

Ryan and I on the ice
I'm a huge fan of Groupon and love to find family adventures to do through it.  I had found a great Groupon for taking my family ice skating so we went on Friday.  My kids were excited to learn to ice skate for the first time.  It took about an hour just to get our skates on and also learn why it's important to tie them tight around the ankles.  We'd get on the ice and go back to the benches to readjust constantly.

Little Ashley on the ice
I had skated back in my teens and I didn't remember having such a tough time as I did this time.  Finally I figured out part of the problem was not just lack of practice but dull blades.  I took it back to the workers and asked them to please sharpen the blades.  They told me people rarely realize that's the problem and quickly went to sharpen them.  What a difference!  Once they gave me my skates back I was able to have lots of fun skating around with my kids.  

Ivy was like an ice skating queen and had no trouble.  She flew around that arena like she had been on it since she was little.  She was begging me to take lessons and let her come back.  Little Caleb had a walker while he was getting used to the ice.  He was in love flying all over the ice!  The older boys had a tough time with their dull blades and bad shoe lace tying.  I kept trying to get them to get theirs fixed but they never did.  LOL.  So they skated on the outskirts a lot.

Caleb with his walker learning how to skate
By the end of the night we were all exhausted and could definitely feel how badly our legs got a workout.  When we got home the kids passed out.  Oh man!  That worked out great.  Ha.

This picture truly captures his energy level!  Ha

It Takes a Church- TV Show Review

I received the DVD in the mail to review the first It Takes a Church TV series on the Game Show Network.  I was a tad doubtful about it but knew I couldn't make a judgement on it till I watched it.  Here is a preview first!

"If you've ever watched a reality dating show and thought the contestants were looking for love in all the wrong places, you'll love the premise here:  all the matchmaking takes place in the contestant's own church, with fellow members recommending and even helping select the potential dates."

Okay, when I first read what this series was about I was kinda scratching my head.  A dating thing in the church?  I don't know.  Then as I was watching it, I remembered how much my views have changed in the last few months about thinking of church as a community, not just an outreach.  An outreach is IMPORTANT, don't get me wrong.  I just think it's good when it also creates a sense of family and community where people look out for one another.  There is nothing wrong with having fun together and fellowshipping.  I did think it was a tad odd including a dating thing into a regular church service but I guess really there is nothing WRONG with it.  It just felt a little out of place for me.  I could be wrong as it could have been a separate event.  Anyhow, it's definitely interesting to watch and I loved how they put lots of emphasis on how it was important to talk with your pastor about the guy, ask questions, and know more about this person's history before just jumping into something serious.  In the show,You do see a HUGE difference on what to look for in a Christian spouse verses a big emphasis on money and good looks only.

What I LOVED was how close everyone in the church seemed with each other.  They weren't just weekend service friends but seemed to be more like family.  Do you even see someone dating and wish you could show them what you see in who they are dating?  You know, like to spare them from a bad mistake?  This girl in the premiere of the show states that she had made some poor decisions in the past trying to find someone she could marry.  This time she was gonna trust her church family to find her someone.  The whole church comes together with Natalie Grant as the host to help find her a Christian soul mate.  Not just for the fun of dating but in hopes of finding a Christian to marry.  I thought it was pretty cool and it was exciting to see who she picked to date in the end.  I watched just the first one that will come out on June 5th but might have fun catching some of the other shows coming after it.  :)