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Monday, August 31, 2009

Picnic and Playin' at the Park

The weather here has been absolutely GORGEOUS lately! And seeing as how the baby boys weren't too happy yesterday.... we went to a nearby park for a picnic.

I made sandwiches for the oldest 4 members of our family. Isn't there something about sandwiches at a picnic? They just seem to taste better....

Apparently Zander thought so, too! I packed a slice of turkey and a cheese stick for them (same lunch they DEVOUR everyday), but on this day they wanted our sandwiches....

And after stuffing all that bread into a 15 month old mouth....it needs to be "washed" down with some milk....


Doesn't he look good with mayo all over his face?


After lunch, Eli and Emma Kate ran off to the playground while Zane and Zander tackled Philip. Zander is on top and Zane is laying on bottom....
I love this one of Zander. He had just gotten "knocked" down in the tackling game and was LOVING it!....

They also had fun on the swings....

Sweet Zaney showing his sweet smile....
I tried to get a picture of the 4 of them together. It wasn't in Zander's plan to sit down! See those legs trying to get up and Eli grabbing him?....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Five Character Words

Emma Kate's teacher gave each parent a sheet asking for some information about their child. The very first question asked us to "List 5 character traits about your child." I shouldn't admit this but I'm going to.....the first 2 or 3 that came to mind were not positive, encouraging thoughts! Now you know she is a sweetheart but man oh man, she goes from syrupy sweet to grouch-O in about 0.5 seconds! (I also put that same comment on the sheet for a different question!)



So I googled character qualities. Not that I don't know what those are, but I wanted a nice long list of words that I might not think of. As usual, Google came through with several links of great lists of character traits.



There were 6 words from the 3 lists I looked at that immediately jumped out at me in describing Emma Kate. The questionnaire said to list 5 (and the 5 was underlined so I didn't want to break the rules). So I narrowed it down to these 5 which soooo appropriately fit her:



*quiet

*cautious

*gentle

*loving

*sweet



She is absolutely ALL of those things, but I don't take enough time to notice the good characteristics and praise her for them. The day that I wrote these down on the questionnaire, I noticed that I immediately started recognizing each of these things in her. And I appreciated them. I am so thankful for: a)this questionnaire which made me take a few minutes and see what a wonderful girl she is. b) a teacher who wants to know the small details of each child in her class c)teachers and a school who love the Lord and want to partner with the parents to grow children who love, honor, obey and serve HIM.



**As a sort-of related sidenote, earlier this summer, Emma Kate and I had a couple of very rough weeks. She was disobedient, rude, un-loving, not kind, etc... Certainly not the character qualities I am trying to teach her.


My method of disciplining her was NOT what it should have been. If you know me at all, you know that through genetics, I am loud. So when I would get on to her, I was more often than not yelling at her. Can I just tell you that with her attitude, that was like throwing fuel on a fire???


About two weeks ago, I opened my email inbox and started reading the email devotional that I receive each weekday. I clearly felt God speaking to me with this devotional. Loud and clear, I could hear Him saying that my yelling was not only spurring her negative behaviors more, but I was also not modeling the kind of behavior I want her to have. (Click here if you'd like to read it.) I was convicted. I immediately began to try to be calmer, quieter, more gentle, kind and loving with her. She had no idea of the changes I was purposefully trying to make. But, I can tell you she noticed.


One night as I was speaking calmly to her about a situation, she came over to me, put her arm on my shoulder, started rubbing it and said "Oh sweet Mama, you're so gentle." Melted my gentle heart. Thank you Father for speaking to us through all sorts of venues!



Back to the character words....I felt so good about the words I'd picked out describing Emma Kate that I decided to do some for Eli, too. His were so easy. He is full of life and spirited! He's always been such an easy kid. Here are his 5 character words that I chose:



*enthusiastic

*friendly

*imaginative

*obedient

*studious


Don't you just get a glimpse of fun-loving Eli when you read those words? :-)

I've already got some character words in mind for Zane and Zander. The words are as completely and totally different as those 2 little guys are. I'm not posting them now....waiting a while to see if their little personalities change much.



What a reminder this has been of how uniquely God creates each one of us. Thank you Father for entrusting me with these 4 precious lives that you created!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Finally Walking!

I have never had babies that walk early. No one has been walking by their 1st birthday. Eli started about a week or two after his 1st birthday. Emma Kate started at about 13 months. And now, these last 2 babies are taking their very slooooooooooooowwww sweet time about it. You may remember about a month ago, when I posted a video clip of Zander saying that I thought he would be walking on his own in a couple of weeks. Well, make that 4 weeks later. I have no idea why he didn't start sooner because he totally could have. But whatever. He decided this week that Wednesday was the day. He just took off like he'd been doing it forever! He loves the new freedom of being UP so that he can get to wherever he wants to go!


(remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit the pause (II) button to stop the blog music. Then scroll back up to this video and hit the play button.)
video

Why is it cute when babies have big dimply thighs like that but on ladies its considered gross? :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of School '09

Today was the first day of school for Eli and Emma Kate. I LOVE LOVE LOVE our school but I wasn't ready for it to start. I know parents all across the country were so ready for school to start back so they could be kid-free. But, I don't feel that way. Yes, it is nice to have a break, but I truly love them being at home.....well, most days. :) Maybe it's because even when my kids are in school, they are still with me most of the time. (In case you're not familiar with our school, we do University Model which means they go to school 2 days and do school at home 3 days). I LOVE that I am with my children more than I'm not with them. Proverbs 22:6 and Deuteronomy 6:4-7 are passages of scripture that remind me what an important job I have in training the Busy Blessings!

But since this entry isn't about me, let me get on to showing you pictures from the 1st day of school. I'll also be throwing in a couple from the first day of school last year for comparison purposes.


Eli, now a 3rd grader....

The picture below was as a 2nd grader in '08. Look at where his shoulders are compared to the door hinges on the picture above and below.....

Emma Kate, now a 1st grader.....
Picture below is last year as a Kindergartener. Look at where the top of her head is compared to the door hinges in the pictures above and below.....


Getting ready to get in the car and head to school....

Walking into school....


Eli at his table....


Emma Kate with her friend Lydia at their table. They sat beside each other last year too!


This water bottle seems to be Emma Kate's "pacifier" when she's not comfortable on her first day. This is today....
This is last year....


I think the first day is harder on me than it is on them. Here's why I think that:
When I got ready to leave Emma Kate's classroom this morning, I said "well I guess I'll leave now." She said "that's fine. I don't care." Then she said "wait. Did you give me a hug and kiss?" I did and her final words were "okay. I'm good now."
When Eli got home from school I told him that I had really missed him today. His response was, "I didn't even think about you one time. I was too busy doing school."
I guess its a good thing not to be needed and missed!

Beach Memories

I have been planning on posting one last entry from our beach trip. Each day keeps flying by and at the end of the day as I fall into bed, I realize that I still haven't done it. We've now been home 11 days, so I think its time to do it!



I've given this post the title of "Beach Memories." These are just some random things I jotted down that I want to remember from our trip. Some are accompanied by pictures. Some are not.



**I want to remember.....going out on the beach at night with Eli and Emma Kate to look for crabs. They took their buckets and flashlights each night and chased little white ghost crabs all over the place. Eli took this picture while we were out hunting ghost crabs.....




**I want to remember.....Eli getting up EARLY (5:45'ish) in the mornings to stand on our balcony and watch for dolphins playing in the ocean.....




**No picture with this one, but I want to remember what Emma Kate told me and Philip one day when we were all playing in the water together. Philip and I had Zane and Zander out about chest deep in the water. Eli and Emma Kate were up closer to the shore with their boogie boards "riding" the waves. Emma Kate yelled out to me and Philip, "Mommy, Daddy, I haven't even got drowned on yet." Needless to say we were so very excited that she hadn't drowned! We laughed at her innocence and use of wording.
**Which reminded me of.....when we lived in Florida, I enjoyed buying our groceries at Publix. Since we now live in Walmart-ville, there are no Publix, but there was one at the beach. Seeing it reminded me of the way Emma Kate used to say Publix when we lived in Florida and she was 3 or 4. "Momma, we need go to Pug-licks?"




**I want to remember taking walks as a family in the mornings. As soon as Zane and Zander woke up at 7:00, we would load them into the stroller along with their milk and cheese toast. They sleep in footed pajamas at night, so we took those off before heading out for our walk. I thought they would burn up if they went outside in those pj's!



**It was on these early morning walks that Zane got to tell us all about his favorite beach animals....the birds. Everytime he saw one, he would point to it and say "kah." Not sure why he chose that word for birds. Here he is pointing to one in the sky....




**Also on those walks, Eli and Emma Kate took bread to feed the "kah" (aka birds). (you can click on the pictures to make them bigger)



**I want to remember how much fun we had at Lambert's. I mentioned it in one of the previous beach posts but didn't elaborate. We each enjoyed different things about the atmosphere & food. I decided that I may work there someday and be a sassy waitress like the one we had. Philip decided that he may work there someday and be the roll thrower. Zane loved boppin' his head to the loud Southern music playing. Zander loves to eat, and he especially loves bread products, so he was just in heaven! Not really sure what Emma Kate's favorite thing was. But, Eli, without a doubt, loved all the practical jokes that the waiters and waitresses played. Our waitress came to our table with a pitcher of soda, started to pour it in Philip's cup, and pretended to drop it in his lap. He jumped only to learn that it was fake soda. Another guy came around with what appeared to be a bottle of mustard. He squirted it in Eli's face only to have yellow silly string fly out. That is what Eli was laughing about in the picture below.....


**I want to remember how totally relaxing it was to lay on a raft in the pool. I do not like to "lay out" and work on a tan but I think I could've laid on the raft in the pool ALL DAY LONG!


**Of course it wouldn't be a beach trip without remembering the beautiful sunsets.....



**As I mentioned earlier, Eli woke up early early each morning. Most days Emma Kate would get up 20 or 30 minutes after he did. On our last morning there, we had to be out by 10:00. Zane and Zander woke up at their usual time of 7:00am but Eli and Emma Kate were still not awake. 7:30 went by, 7:45 went by and still not awake. Philip and I decided that they must be fake sleeping or purposefully staying in their room to try and keep us from going home. I peeked in their room and much to my surprise they were still sleeping.....



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dolphin Cruise

Philip took Eli & Emma Kate on a dolphin cruise while we were at Orange Beach. We contemplated taking the babies also, but the boat ride was 1 1/2 hours long. We thought Zane would be fine but thought Zander would be trying to get IN the water....so I stayed with them.


All the children on the boat were required to wear life jackets (probably a very good idea!).








Philip did a great job of getting camera pics as well as video!




















If you want to hear the video, remember to scroll to the very bottom of this page and click the play/pause button on the music playlist.

video
Philip said the boat was only going about 16mph but doesn't it look faster than that? Those dolphins look like they are speeding through that water.


So I don't want to spoil this fun post, but feel I need to go ahead and tell you what the boys and I did during the dolphin cruise. A certain family member, who will remain unnamed, asked me if I would be going to the outlet stores while we were at the beach. I said that I didn't plan on it since I just went while we were in Branson, as well as it would be difficult on Philip to have all 4 kids at the beach or condo by himself. This unnamed person said that if I should happen to go would I please go to the Polo store and buy some shirts for her offspring?
I decided to be adventurous while the other 3 were on the dolphin cruise and take 2 babies to the outlet malls. Can I just tell you that doing so was DUMB DUMB AND DUMBER of me! Seriously. Because of all the stuff we had packed in the car (see picture in the Vicksburg post), we only had room to pack a single stroller. This means that I had to put one baby in the single stroller while I wore a Bjorn front carrier with a 23lb. baby attached to me. Are you mentally picturing this?
I won't give you a play-by-play but suffice it to say that by the time we got to the checkout of the Polo store both babies were SCREAMING (in their defense, it was lunchtime), I was sweating and most of my fellow Polo patrons were either staring at us or whispering to their shopping buddy about that poor woman with the crying babies.
So to the sweet unnamed family member who will be reading this post and is probably laughing right now, NO MORE. I love you but I am not doing that to myself again!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Busy Blessings at the Beach

Having lived in the Sunshine State for the past 5 years, we have never really done a "beach vacation." Well we did do a trip to North (or was it South???) Carolina 2 years ago......but that was for a family reunion. So can it really count as vacation? :) Back to living in Florida.......anytime we were in need of a beach "fix" we could go over to either coast for the day.

Seeing that our summer of 2008 was totally consumed by:
a) Philip graduating from pharmacy school
b) having twins
c) moving a family of 6 (which included 2 week old babies) 900 miles away and
d) Philip starting a new job, we didn't seem to fit in a vacation last year.

So this summer, I wanted to go somewhere with ALL 4 kids. I started looking at options that were a few hours drive away such as Kansas City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, etc.. but they would all require that we do extra "stuff." (museums, zoos, etc...) So I decided the beach was the best choice. The only problem......now that we live in Arkansas, the beach is a mere 12 hour drive.

It took about a month to convince Philip why we should go to the beach....my commercial to him was this, "Once we get there, we won't have to do anything else....just the beach and the pool. I'll stay with the boys while they nap, you and the older kids can play in the water. Then , when the boys wake up, we'll join you in the water." His answer went something like "I'm not worried about that part. Its the getting there w/ a 12 hour drive that I don't like." But, being the accomodating wonderful husband that he is, he gave in!

So on August 9th, we headed to Orange Beach, AL. The drive there and back was thankfully, uneventful. Everyone did great! And boy was I glad. Cause you know if the boys had been awful I would've NEVER heard the end of it!

Here are Zane and Zander playing in the sand....


and then out in the water with Philip....
I know Zane looks unhappy in the picture below. He wasn't unhappy. This is just his look when he's not sure about something. He was never fully convinced that he loved the ocean water. Zander however, wanted us to NOT hold him and just let him play in the big ole ocean by himself....
Eli enjoyed flying a kite....

The picture below shows Eli's kite flying in the air. You can also see Philip pushing the boys in the stroller. The silver/greenish building on the left is where we stayed....

Emma Kate having fun on the boogie board....
I was hoping we could take a family picture on the beach. My professional photographer friend Mindy, suggested a color scheme of white, khaki, blue, and green clothes. So I packed the appropriate clothing for the beach pictures, but they never happened. :( We just didn't have enough hands to go around! Philip said that along those same lines, the one thing he would do differently next time, is bring a helper or another family along.
Here is the only picture we managed to get. I asked a random dad out on the beach to take it....
We ate breakfast and lunch at the condo everyday but went out to eat at night. No one in my family, except me, had ever been to Lambert's, so we went there the last night of the trip. I LOVE that place! Such good Southern cookin' and friendly people. That sounds exactly like something my Grandmother would say!
Here I am with the boys waiting outside for our table....
These boys are really very good babies. (It's just often that no one notices how good they are since there are 2 of them!) The whole trip they stayed on their same eating/sleeping schedule. Here's a look at what I got to see every morning at 7:00am....
The last morning as Philip was packing up the car, he brought a luggage cart up to the condo. Apparently it looked like fun because both boys climbed on....
More beach posts to follow later.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vicksburg

Surprise! I didn't expect to be blogging again today, but decided I had to because I snapped some cute pics today and our hotel has free wireless in the room.

We left this morning at 9:00 am for our trip to Orange Beach. We are breaking the drive up over 2 days. Today's destination was Vicksburg,MS.

My sister has been laughing this week everytime she thinks about all 6 of us and our belongings loaded up in the car! I told her I was striving to get all of us packed into 1 suitcase. If you know anything at all about my packing habits, you will know that this seems completely impossible. I am one of those that has to weigh my suitcase at home before going to the airport to make sure it doesn't exceed the 50lb. weight limit. My big red bag (see pic below) usually averages 46lbs. everytime I fly somewhere and that is often only my stuff. Don't all girls need 9 or 10 pair of shoes per trip? :)
Well, I am SO proud to say that I did get all of Team Jackson loaded into the big red bag! I took a picture of the car right before we left just to prove it. The only other bag is a duffle bag which just had our things for the overnight hotel stay in Vicksburg.
In order to make this happen, I had to sacrifice and only bring 5 pair of shoes!
I usually always plan car trips so that we leave in the morning at naptime. Here are the 2 little nappers about 45 minutes into the trip....


Our ONLY stop of the day (yes, we drove 7 hours with 1 stop!), was for lunch at Burger King. Here's curli-locks (aka Emma Kate) showing off her Burger King crown and pink sunglasses that she got with her meal.

We made it to Vicksburg around 4:30. Hung out in the hotel room for a bit, then went down to the Yazoo River area for dinner. After dinner we took the kids to a splash park. It was a great way for Eli and Emma Kate to let loose after being in the car all day.


The four of us watching the kids play....
After a bit of watching their older brother and sister play, Zane and Zander wanted in on some of the action. Zane being the observer that he is, only wanted to stick his hand in.

And Zander being the adventuresome one that he is, wanted in all the way. So, I got all trashy and let him be the naked diaper baby.

As sad as it may be, this might be the last blog until we start back home from the beach. I don't think our condo has internet. What will I do all week? :)