Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today At The Zoo

We started off early, hoping to beat the heat, but by 9:30 am it was already 85 out!  Oh well, the kids didn't seem to mind one bit.  
We checked out the improved rain forest, which was really neat, and finally not so hot.  Additions included the waterfall, and what looks like fruit trees.  There was a nice cool breeze throughout and they were so happy to see the flamingos were back.
They kids were wide-eyed and exited at all the additions made.  I started taking binoculars to the zoo with us this year, not because they need them at our zoo really,
but they add a little extra fun element to our trip.

Grace had won a painting done by an elephant almost two years ago, we kept forgetting to go to the gift shop and ask about it, but today, she remembered, and I was stunned that they still had it with her name on it.  She is so excited!
The newly refurbished primate exhibit is pretty neat, they are doing a good job updating it.  We were about to leave, when it happened again!  You may have read this post and know what I'm talking about, but it has happened at least four other times (that I can remember!).  Zach will be minding his own business, just watching an animal that is going about its business, when something about him catches their eye and they come right up to the glass, following his every move!  
This is Tiffany, and she is OLD, I remember her from when I was a little girl and I had to look it up to confirm that she has been at the Topeka Zoo since 1969.  Maybe it goes without saying that she is not the most exciting gorilla, but today, we watched her sit by a tree for quite awhile, when she gets up and walks right up to the glass where Zach was standing, it scared him a little at first, he wasn't expecting that to happen.  She then just sat staring at Zach for the longest time, the kids were captivated! 
Previous animals have even been know to bang on the glass when I would touch him or when he has started to walk away.  It really causes me to ponder what my Zachary "Lion" (the nickname Ethan accidentally gave him at birth when he tried to say Zachary Ryan) will be when he grows up.  A veterinarian?  A Zoologist?  He seems to have something that attracts the animals to him.
A good trip to the Topeka Zoo needs to end with a mini train ride, so of course, we did.  And then we were home by lunch and before it got really hot!  We only visited half of the animals today, so we will be back to visit the other half another day.

Friday, July 27, 2012

This Week...

It seems like every week is a busy week, at the beginning of the week when I don't think there is going to be much going on, there is a drastic change and we end up running here and there all week.  Not complaining, it's been a great week.  I'm so thankful to have the friends that I have, there was so much fun this week too.  Swimming, Bunco, friends came over for dinner, a great date with Rob, a surprise birthday party, and somehow my house got really spic and span cleaned too! 

The day we went swimming, we went over to the Collin's house to help break in their new pool. 
I was expecting to be there for a couple hours, after 5 hours, we were on our way home, and no one wanted to leave, it was such a fun day!
Apparently I have fish for children!  Zach is swimming so well now, he was keeping up with the older kids even.

And Faith was even all over the pool!  When we got there, I thought she may not leave the steps, but she got braver and ventured out on her own too!  Even surprising us by swimming under water to the ladder by herself!
I hadn't really noticed the weight-loss until I put on my swimsuit that day and realized that I may have some trouble keeping my strapless suit up!  I have definitely lost some weight, I admit, I'd rather it was from a different spot on my body, but loss is loss, so it's ultimately a good thing.

The kids all have come down with the sniffles this week too, but nothing serious, as you can see it definitely did not keep them down!  They are all on the mend now.
Do you know how HARD it is to take a picture of three ninjas? 

Last night, it was my pleasure to help suprise a friend on her 30th birthday!  We went to Paint Therapy Uncorked, and had SUCH a GREAT time!!!

This was the most fun!  We each learned to paint a canvas together, I think Lara was really surprised, it was a really fantastic time.  These ladies are some really fun friends to have.

Okay, so, as for my goals this week, I am so happy to say that many of them, I am accomplishing.  Here are the goals I made...

1) With God- I will have a quiet time alone with Him at least 4 days each week.  Consistent by July 27, 2012.
2) In Health- I will exercise at least 4 times a week.  I will cut back white pasta, white rice and white breads to once a week, cut out pop all together and cut back sweets to once a week (this worked great for me before and I didn't feel deprived of foods I really like). Consistent by July 13, 2012.
3) In Weight Loss- (This is kind of a proof of #2) I will loose 7 pounds per month, this should be attainable for me. Consistent by September 28, 2012.
4) With Rob- I will have one date night per week with him (even if it's just a night of "face time" at home).  Consistent by July 27, 2012.
5) With Kids- I will start implementing "Have a New Kid By Friday" EVERYDAY.  Consistent by July 27, 2012.

On #1, I have been very consistent, I am really enjoying my time with God, everyday that I possibly can, I have been starting out in the Word, before checking my email, or texts or doing anything else.  Before I even get out of bed, I have been trying to start out by praying, this is helping me with the morning grouches that I encounter!  #2 has been going well as far as my eating habits, I have really been proud of myself.  Working out has not been happening as much as I want, but I have lost a total of 10.2 pounds!!!! 

That is 10.2 pounds in just 21 days!  
This is a picture I saw on Facebook, I have to admit, I am feeling pretty good about my loss!

#4 is going great, better than I even hoped.  Rob and I have not been turning the TV on at all, which is leaving a huge amount of time to talk after the kids are in bed.  He commented the other day on how much he is enjoying our talks in the evenings.  I'm so glad, I am too. 

In the area of #5, I don't know why this is continuing to be the hardest area for me, I would have thought that food would have been harder honestly, and I expected exercise to be hard, but this one has caught me a little off-guard.  I have become a lot more consistent with them and I have started getting more creative with discipline too, which I think has been effective, but I still need to work on this area.

This week I am going to be contemplating some new goals to make.  I don't want this momentum I have to go to waste!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What's Your Path?

This past week Grace and I attended two Bright Lights conferences, here in town.  One, called, Strong In The Lord, and the other, Radiant Purity.  I will admit, it was like a flash from the past when I walked in to the room of skirts, I was very familiar with the beliefs and values of these young ladies and their family, it was how I was raised.  While it is not how I have chosen to raise my family, I would be lying if I said I didn't wish that I had kept on that path in life.

While regrets, I believe are something Satan can use for real destruction, I think the Holy Spirit can also use them as tools to learn from.  In my life, I was given two godly parents that really did what was the opposite of the world's way of raising kids.  Homeschooling, the way we dressed, the movies and TV (or lack of) that we watched, even the music we listened to was different.  While I didn't agree with them most of the time growing up, I can now see as a parent myself in this very scary world we live in that it is hard to be lights in the darkness.  And I even wish that they had said, "no", more than they did (I seriously can't believe that is true!).  My regrets are from way back when I was a teenager and I chose not to listen to my parents teaching.

This was Grace's first experience to be around young ladies like these.  Even though we home schooled for a few years, she was never exposed to these high standards of living.  I was so surprised at her eagerness to learn and her excitement to do something different than the way the world does it.  She picked up a few books that actually took me off guard a little, not the book, but her interest, one was "Before You Meet Prince Charming", a book all about keeping yourself pure for your husband, not only sexually, but in every way...the first touch, the first kiss, your heart.  That is such a radical way of thinking for girls today.  Having not lived this out, I know the pain that goes along with giving these things away to the wrong guy.  It is a painful lesson that I continue to suffer through, and I would never wish for my daughters.

Sarah Malley said this week, "My will for my life would be the same as God's will for my life, if I could see the big picture".  I think that is so true, obviously looking back we can see things a lot clearer, I know I can.  And I am now saddened by choices that I have made that were definitely not God's will for me.  This is not to say that I am somehow not blessed by God now in my life, or I wish for things that I do not have, but I do wish that I had not wasted so many years of my life not serving Him in everything I did, it grieves me to think of the people that I did not share with, the ripple effect that my life has had in negative ways by my actions when I was not living the way He wanted me to.

Something else that Grace shared with me this week was her desire to be a witness at her school, she even got a book and CD to help her learn the best ways to do that and a packet of all different kinds of tracts to give out.  I am so proud of her for making the commitment to be a light in the darkness, and I am going to be praying for her daily that she can do that.

This morning, I took the kids to the church that I grew up in.  I have run into the pastor, Casey Ingold several times in the past year, I attend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) there, and I honestly kept feeling a tugging from the Holy Spirit to visit there, I had also messaged Pastor Casey's, wife, who I knew previously from MOPS, and got the "scoop" on CBC now.  Rob and I have talked about it a few times, and we had decided to try it out a few months ago, but with his work schedule we really haven't been able to go anywhere together as a whole family.

Today, I decided was the day that the kids and I would try it out though, and of course, Faith and Grace's allergies were acting up and I almost decided to stay home, but something told me I really needed to be there this morning.  It was a pain to get out the door alone with 4 kids, but we made it (on time, even!).  Like I had said before, this is the church that I grew up in, the only church my family ever went to.  And there are a lot of people that still attend there that I know, but what caught me a little off-guard was all the people that I did not know and how welcoming everyone was.

We have visited a few churches in the past year trying to find a fit for our family, with not a lot of luck, quite honestly, we have not felt welcomed anywhere else that we have visited, and the kids have felt like outsiders, even when we have visited several times.  This has really burdened my heart.

This morning when Pastor Casey started in with his sermon, I was amazed by his honesty.  His topic was Urgent and Unashamed Ambassadors, he spoke with such conviction and inspiring enthusiasm.  He is not one that just steps on toes gently, just to have us contemplate our lives, he is STOMPING on the toes of the lukewarm Christian, causing us to rethink our commitment to Christ and where we really stand when push comes to shove.  Challenging anyone in a comfort zone of faith to get uncomfortable and MOVE into action.  This was just the message I wanted to hear this morning, it was just what I was talking to Rob about last night, about wanting our family to be a light in this darkness.

After service, my kids were introduced to some of the kids that attend there and were whisked away to Sunday School, afterwards, each of them asked me if we could come back next week.  This has not happened before.  Grace was so excited about their youth group and felt like she could really fit in there.  I felt like all my prayers for a church home were being answered this morning.  Praise the Lord!

Something that struck me after Pastor Casey spoke was, just like I was thinking about the negative ripple effect that my disobedience to God has had, who was or is supposed to be sharing their with the gunman or would-be gunman?  As much as we hate to think of being like someone who could do something so evil, he is human, WE are human.  That was his path he chose to follow, what is our path that we choose to follow?  Do we keep our faith to ourselves, do we choose to keep silent, when thousands around us die without knowing their Savior, is that our path?  That is not my path, that is not my family's path.

Update...A Couple of Days Late!

I wanted to post this update on Friday, like usual, but it's been a busy week, and it didn't happen.  So, today, my update is...
I have had so much time with the Lord this week.  It has been amazing!  I am finding out a lot about what God wants for my life and my family.  More about that soon.

For my health I jumped rope on Tuesday, this pretty much shot the rest of my week, because walking HURT, I probably should have worked up to 20 minutes, but I guess you live and learn, even Thursday and Friday, my calves and shins were still killing me!  My diet of healthy foods is still going well and my weight loss is 6.8 pounds now, I was hoping that would be a little higher, but for a total of two weeks, I am feeling pretty good about that.

Rob and I have spent some really great, quality time together talking in the evenings.  We will be putting into effect a date night of Sunday nights, as of tonight, that will be a standing date.  A kind of staff meeting, if you will, where we can discuss the week to come and keep getting to each other better.  Each of us are growing and changing every day, and I think we need to keep up with each other, instead of living separate lives side by side.

I feel like I have barely seen most of the kids this week, which is maybe why it seems like they have been doing so good.  Grace is really standing out to me though, I am so blessed by her, she is such an amazing young lady, she helps me so much around the house and with the younger kids.  She has always been helpful, but I think what I noticed this week was that her attitude has changed, she is not helping because I have told her to, but it seems like more out of love, not duty.  I am really appreciating this change in her. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Kansas City Adventure

 Rob and I like to try and have a family "adventure" away from home at least once every other year.  This year we planned our adventure for Kansas City.  With the new aquarium and Legoland at Crown Center, we knew it would be a hit.  We planned ahead as much as possible, I turned out like my dad in that area, I appreciate a well-planned trip, it is less stressful to me to know what and when we are going to do things, and what or where we are going to eat.  Also, in an effort to save money, I found as many coupons and deals as possible too. 
We took a HUGE Coleman cooler and FILLED it with lunches, breakfasts and snacks for the trip.  The plan was to eat out only for dinner.  And we succeeded!  I planned planned planned ahead! 
Even for me to eat some healthy salads for lunches.  I took two of my favorite salads with me.  I love these divided dishes from Ziploc for food to go, I paired this with a little container of dressing. 
 It worked perfectly! 
I took, milk, yogurt, OJ, strawberries (prepared), cucumbers (sliced), baby carrots, apples (cleaned), grapes (cleaned), cheese sticks, Lunchables little subs and the cracker kind also (I wanted the plastic sealed containers for the cooler, plus they were at a great sale price!), pop for Rob, and lots of bottled water.  And that was just in the cooler!  In a big basket, I took, chips, cookies, sunflower seeds, donuts and cinnamon rolls (a treat for this trip), and granola bars, let's just say,
 NO ONE went hungry!  
We left Topeka as soon as Rob got off work on Friday and headed out, my mom had sent us a deal from the Westin at Crown Center, awhile back that was good for 1 night stay and 4 tickets to the aquarium and 4 tickets for Legoland, plus coupons and a $20 gift certificate for anywhere at Crown Center, all for $169!  I went online and bought 2 extra tickets for each place, that we picked up at the door there.  
This was a great savings for us!  
Walking into the Westin, the kids FREAKED OUT!  It is very grand, with its water falls in the lobby, they felt like royalty.  Zach and Faith have not been to a hotel that they could remember, so this was pretty exciting stuff, even the windows in the elevator were extra exciting!  I love experiencing places through their eyes. 
The room was great, two to each of the beds, and two in sleeping bags, and there was plenty of room, the room was very large, and with awesome views of KC,
 their favorite was the Western Auto sign all lit up.
Right after checking in we rushed over to The K for an amazing game, the Royals V. White Sox.  It was Buck Night, and Friday Night Fireworks (this was very deliberate), it was Zach and Faith's first Royals game (that they can remember), so I wanted to do everything.   
As soon as we got in the park (we were about and hour early), I saw a hotdog stand with no line, and knowing how Buck Night can be, we got our hotdogs, peanuts and pops right there. 
We then sat down under the concrete ramp in the shade to eat, this was MUCH better than hauling food to our seats, and it was so nice and cool under there.  
 (Faith took my picture, I' was going to say that I'm not usually so cheesy, but I guess I actually kind of am!)

Ethan said, "Mommy, there's nothing like a ballpark hotdog!", right you are son!
We mistakenly gave Faith a can of Pepsi, she didn't slow down till 2 AM, live and learn, live and learn!
I got tickets on ScoreBig.com, I bid on tickets up in the 420 section, for $15 per ticket (about half), and I got my bid!  A little later I got an email saying that our 4-star tickets were being upgraded to 2-star tickets in section 112 (WOO-HOO!).  When we got to the game, I was STUNNED at how awesome our seats were and the kids were just jaw-dropped the whole walk down to our seats!  It was so exciting to watch them enjoying themselves so much. 

Up there is where I thought we'd be sitting...
THIS is the view from where we actually got to sit!  $15 per ticket!!!!

The handsome men in my life, having a great time.

The original Princess, Grace, that I got to sit by and who even shut off her phone to talk to me!  I was feeling the love tonight!

The kids got up close with the field, Ethan was in heaven.
 Check out that dimple! Sorry ladies, this one still just loves his momma!
 Hard core, aren't they? 

After 14 innings, the game finally ended, with the White Sox winning by 1.  Then we enjoyed some Saturday morning fireworks (it was 1am before they started!).  Back at the hotel, it was 2am before Faith FINALLY fell asleep!  9am came VERY early.
We started out our day at the Sea Life Aquarium in Crown Center.  It was a pretty neat place (It's not the Denver Aquarium, but still cool), the kids LOVED the touching tank!
I was SO nervous Faith was going to tear apart one of those star fish, but she did good.
Grace is very interested in bones and stuff, as a career, but somehow, I still see her in some line of work that puts her in the ocean or at least near it.
Here, at the aquarium they had neat cards with scratch off places for the kids to answer fun fact questions, and then all through the aquarium there was fun facts on the walls for them to read and then help them answer the questions, it was neat to watch Ethan with Zach.  He read all the fun facts to him and then quizzed him at each of the stops to scratch off the right answers.  At the end they each got a sticker for getting the answers right.  The whole aquarium took about 2 hours to go through.  If I have one bit of advice for this place, it would be, get there when they open, and get tickets online, ahead of time, so you can bypass the LONG line AND they are cheaper that way!

After the aquarium, we walked back to the hotel and ate lunch, then we had about an hour and a half of family nap time, after our late night, EVERYONE needed a nap.  I was planning on that, and it was MUCH needed. 
After nap time we went back over to LegoLand.
This was REALLY cool!
First there was a little tour telling about how Legos are made. 
A spot to demonstrate painting your own design on a Lego.

You can see the walls really well in this picture, all of them had this really cool Lego wall paper on it, different scenes in each room and hall.
 Every wonder how much you weigh in Legos?

Or how tall you are in Legos?

There was a room of Lego models of famous spots in KC, and even an Wizzard of Oz display.  Most parts had buttons to push that were supposed to make parts move, but a lot of the buttons were not working (bummer!), but The K was pretty cool, especially since we had just been there. 

There was an area of Lego Friends, for little girls to play in, Faith loved this section.
There was a race car creator station, the boys had a BLAST doing this.
Build it, then test it on the race track, this was really cool.
Even Grace enjoyed building a car.

Also while we were there, Ethan got to go to the Master Creators class, where he got to learn to build a dinosaur, he had a great time in there. 

Included in LegoLand was a couple of rides, a 4-D movie, and a play area for little kids (kind of like Going Bonkers).  There was a cafe in there too.  They suggest 2 1/2 hours for your trip, but if you really let your kids play, plan to be there 4-5 hours, I really think we could have been there a whole day, if time aloud.  
We spent 3 1/2 hours there and the kids DID NOT want to leave.

We needed to get to dinner though, we were meeting our friends, the Mallinson's at Fritz's in Crown Center.  I snagged a couple of pics from Amy, mine didn't come out so good.  Faith, just adores Titus!  
And these boys are just an amazing little trio.  I am going to love seeing them grow up friends, I have already had the pleasure of the past five years.  Zach just loves these boys so much, he calls them his brothers, since Ethan has brothers that he doesn't live with full time, he was pretty convinced these were his brothers that he doesn't live with.  When they recently moved to KC, he asked me, "Will they remember my name for always?", I about cried, "Yes, baby, they will always remember your name, Mommy will make sure".  
I value these friends so much.

Because Fritz's is in Crown Center, we used our $20 gift certificate that we got with our hotel deal and ended up saving half our bill!  If you haven't been to Fritz's, I won't tell you the food is amazing, but the kids really loved the trains, and the theme look was really cool.  For me, the best part, was the company!  
After dinner we all went swimming at the hotel pool.
No pictures of that, but it was great fun!

After a good night's sleep, we headed out to Schlitterbahn water park.  This is a really great day!  I got tickets online ahead of time and I found a coupon code (sorry, I don't remember where, I just Googled it and found one that worked, it save us about $7 a ticket, I think).  We got there about 10:30, I wanted to be there earlier so we could get a table in the shade, but no luck, no worries though, 
we spent very little time at our table.  
At Schlitterbahn you can take a cooler in, so we did, this saved us SO much money!  We applied sunscreen three different times, and still all of us got burnt.  I would highly suggest just wearing t-shirts (we definitely will next time!), Faith and Zach wore life jackets all day 
(they were free to borrow), 
and they turned out a lot less crispy than the rest of us.

We started out all together in the two kiddy pools, but then split up, Zach, Grace, Ethan and Rob all rode lots of rides, Faith and I stayed in the Torrent River, which was like a wave pool, river style, she was perfectly content to ride the waves all day, and I didn't mind a bit, it was very relaxing, really.  
I think next time she will be ready to ride some other rides. 

We left the park about 7pm, it was a full day of fun.  When we got home, everyone showered and I coated them all in Aloe.  They were all asleep FAST.  This morning, my early risers were not heard from till after 9.  That NEVER happens around here.  
I think we may have worn them out a bit.

Our somewhat short adventure ended up being just the right amount of time, we had a lot of fun and did a lot in a short amount of time.  It was a really fantastically fun weekend.  Several years ago Rob and I started calling our little trips with the kids "Adventures", hence the name of our blog, and it was on our license plates even, but we haven't referred to them as that in a couple years, 
so I thought it was funny when Zach said, 

"Thanks for the adventure, 
it was so much fun!"