Sunday, January 27, 2013

A little bit of Heaven on Earth... where Jared and I were blessed to spend last week. We planned this trip to Mexico (South of Cancun) for our 10 year has also become my Christmas and birthday present, likely Valentine's Day and probably Mother's Day as well :) Jared likes to stick to was an all-inclusive trip so it will be an all-inclusive gift. I'm NOT complaining. I imagine heaven is a bit like this but only better...I can't imagine. I felt like we were in Paradise. We were able to get a massage, work-out, lay on the beach and read for a week while soaking up the sun. Our biggest decision was which restaurant to eat at. A whole lot different than life at home with 4 kids....
These little "raccoon-monkey" things were around at the resort. Although signs said, "Do not feed", people would stop to feed them. They were a bit creepy to me...I'm just glad they were friendly...
Iguanas were everywhere as well...we got close enough to take a picture with Flat Stanley...(part of Emma's school project). Afterwards, we read that they are NOT friendly in the months of January and February due to mating season. Awesome. We are glad we did not get hurt.
Oh my. I was so fortunate to get a photo shoot on the beach with a Toucan. Yes, this was awesome. I'm pretty sure I WON'T end up on some billboard in Mexico...there's nothing like someone telling you in broken English to look sexy. I was trying so hard not to laugh.
Me and mine. Thank you SO MUCH mom and dad for watching all the girls while we were was SO much easier to get away, knowing that they were in good hands!!

Shop 'til you drop!

The last first haircut....

...such a bittersweet moment. Our youngest (and last) getting her first haircut... (sniff, sniff, smile).

Our little runners...

Emma & Ellie completed their first race in October...the KC Kids Marathon. They started training over the summer, running a few miles a week. They kept track of every mile they ran (up to 25 miles) and on race day, they ran their last 1.2 miles. At the end, they got their very own medal, "just like mommy". We were so proud of them and hope they continue to love the joy of running.
Emma, friend Audrey, Ellie and Bryce after their race!
Posing with Tina who also ran the half marathon with me
The runner girls striking a pose! (with cousin Owen!)
My faithful running partner...planning our next race for April 13th!!
Ready to get our freak on...again!!

JB in Justin Bieber. He came to Kansas City in October and our neighbor Tina gave the older 3 girls and I tickets for our Christmas and birthday presents...and it was the best gift ever. The girls were SO excited and it was so fun to see their faces when he came out! Our friends were able to get seats next to us so that made it super fun as well...thanks again Tina for such a wonderful night out!

Continuing the Tradition....

After church, we made our annual trip to Crown Center, ate at Fritz's and went ice skating. The girls did great...I took turns skating them around the rink for several was quite the work-out. My arms were so sore the next day! They were determined to "keep going until I get it good". We started a new tradition this year and although Eva is still a bit young and ran around the majority of the time we were doing devotions, the girls really began to grasp the Christmas story on a deeper level...not just the birth of Jesus but the events leading up to WHY Jesus had to be born. We did a Jesse tree...we made ornaments (24 of them), each a symbol of the theme of the scipture passage we were reading. And of course, we had an advent calendar filled with chocolates that they got to open AFTER the scripture. Why yes, we used a little bribery positive reinforcement to help them sit quietly through our nightly devotions...

Miniature everything... what we have been making around our house so the girls' American Girl dolls can have an unlimited number of accessories. There are numerous videos which make me want to beat my head against a wall on you tube on how to make everything from mini umbrellas to lamps to food. Ellie is constantly watching them and wanting to create something. So, in a weak moment, I agreed to make food for their kitchen. We used ingredients around the house including flour, salt, water, molds from our Playdough sets, as well as eyeshadow and nail polish to decorate the food. It ended up being a very inexpensive and fun their dolls have the staples for their kitchen....kolaches, doughnuts, strawberries, pears, cinnamon rolls, crescents, pretzels and bread.

Christmas...elves....Jesus...& Grace?

How in the world do all of those go together...that is the question that bogged my mind for the last few years. The girls have wanted an elf. EVERYONE has an elf on the shelf after all. I was a scrooge about this one. Honestly, I was totally against the whole idea for several reasons....I viewed it as a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas. I felt as if the whole concept (ie book) did not reflect the type of grace-based parenting we strive for (If you are not good....then you will not get...) Not to mention...that elf is CREEPY!! So...with the help of other Christian moms (gosh I love the internet),our family compromised. I bought the elf and book and did away the book. Instead, our "naughty" elf came neatly packaged in a box with a letter, explaining that her name was Gracie and she was sent by Santa for the girls to teach Gracie how to be good and to show her grace by cleaning up her messes, JUST like Jesus does for us EVERY day. And Gracie DID make messes....EVERY morning there was so much excitement and anticipation looking for Gracie. And we had a whole lot of laughs! I'm not sure who had more fun with our elf...Jared & I or the girls?!
Here is a snippet of part of our letter from Santa.... "I had to let you know something important. You know that whole naughty and nice list that everyone is talking about?’s not even true. I don’t even have a naughty and nice list. Because I know Jesus, I know a lot about grace which means that we get something we don’t deserve. Like when you make the wrong choice and do something bad, Jesus gives you grace and loves you no matter what. And I know your mom and dad give you grace…like when you deserve to get in trouble but they give you another chance...that is grace. I know that kids are not perfect. And I know that you girls are not perfect. But I do know that Jesus loves you all the time and so do I. So you don’t even need to worry about being on my naughty or nice list. I love to bring surprises on Christmas Eve so that is what you will get. To help you remember about grace and getting love even when you don’t deserve it, I wanted to send you a special friend Gracie!"
Although the girls were tired of cleaning up her messes, they were sad to see Gracie go. At one point Emma said, "Wow this is a lot of work"...I think she got a glimpse of how God views us...the unconditional love you get when you screw up over. and over. and over. So there we went trying to put a Christian perspective on a "wordly idea"....because isn't that what we try to do all the time anyway? Whew...this parenting thing is a lot of work.