Thursday, December 30, 2010

A History and Rock Climbing Sort of Day

So last fall Christopher took a Presidents class in our homeschool co-op.  He had to give a speech on one president and he ended up with Lyndon Johnson.  He was adorable giving his speech, even if no one could see his face because he held his note papers right in front of it.  Anyways, ever since he did all of that research and found out that there is a state park nearby named for his president, he's wanted to go. 

We finally went.  Chris had the whole week after Christmas off (!!!) and we figured we needed to do something other than sit around the house playing Mariocart on the new Wii.  So we packed the car up with bottles and snacks and baby carrying backpacks and set off for our Texas Hill Country vacation. 

We drove the hour and a half (without the car DVD player!) and arrived at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park.  There was a little history museum at the visitors center and then there was a driving tour, which started off with a visit to a living farm.  It was awesome.  I would love to have chickens and maybe even work up to a dairy cow down the road sometime.  The kids would also, and they really enjoyed seeing all of the animals.  The 'farmers' that work there lived their daily life (day hours only) the way that people lived way back when there was no electricity and all that.  It was neat to see their cooking methods and garden and all that.  One day...

After the farm we drove onto LBJ's ranch and saw places like his birth home, elementary school, cemetery, and his personal runway.  It was a lot more interesting that I thought it would be.  (I seem to say that a lot about historical places we least I am pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed.)

We had further to go on our day trip, so we left without taking the tour of the Texas White House there.  We stopped at Porky's and had some good burgers for lunch and then went on our way up to Enchanted Rock State Park.  We didn't really know what to expect, but it is exactly what the name implies...a big rock.
I don't think it looks as impressive in pictures as in real life.  It's much steeper when you are climbing it!

Well it seems like other Texans had the same idea as us on a Thursday afternoon on a beautiful day in the 70s.  The park was full and we were told to come back in an hour and a half to see if they would reopen.

Yes, that's exactly what we wanted to do with five young kids...find something else to do for an hour and a half in the middle of nowhere, Texas.  But we did what others who had been turned away did as well...we parked on the side of the road and let the kids run around and took pictures.  (Big surprise, right?)

So we headed back to the park entrance after an hour, just to see how much longer it would be (and a farmer came and started mowing the grass in the field on the side of the road we were waiting around in) and they had decided that people could start entering the park again.  Yay!

We strapped on our babies and made our way up this enchanted rock.  We had heard from a friend that it was a long, hard way up, so we knew that we may not make it all the way up, but it would still be a fun, outdoorsy family activity, so it'd be okay if we didn't make it.

Well the boys were so busy climbing on every big rock on the rock that they didn't notice how hard they were exerting themselves to get to the top.  We made it without any whining, pushing, injuries, fighting, crying, or any other behavior that we normally experience on a normal day. 

I think I might be closer to a few grey hairs because of that afternoon with having to watch my boys climb onto the highest rocks they could find.  I seriously have to force myself to let them do anything semi-dangerous.  But I do, and they have fun.

We hung around on the top for a little while and the boys all explored a cave while us girls sat around, trying not to roll down the hill.

When we started to head back down, Anna got mad about being back in the Bjorn, but other than that, the kids did wonderful on the way down as well, finding even more and higher rocks to climb on.

This one had other kids climbing on it and another mom telling them, "Okay, come down now," in the same nervous voice I used.

So we made it down and Christopher says, "Let's have a jumping race to the top!"  And then he and Matthew ran to the stairs leading to the parking lot (yah, I want to climb a bunch of stairs after just having climbed a mountain), jumping up each one.  Where they got that energy, I'd like to tap into!

Meanwhile, little Gabriel, who I was surprised made it even halfway up the mountain, came dragging himself up the stairs.  I was so proud of him for climbing up and down the whole way, on his little five year old legs that usually get tuckered out after walking any distance at a store. 

And we made the long drive home after a really really fun day.
And Gabe was out after about two minutes.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This Christmas was special.
With a husband in the military, we have experienced not having hubby/daddy home for Christmas before.  I think having that experience makes us feel even more thankful that we are all together, because we know that so many families did not have that this year.
And even better, Chris had a long vacation off of work. 
And we got to celebrate Anna's first Christmas.
And the kids are still totally into leaving out cookies and milk for Santa, and trying to stay awake to be able to see him.  We do keep Christ as our main focus of Christmas, but we have a little fun with the whole Santa thing as well.

Christopher wanted to stay up and watch for Santa from the stairs but we told him that he wouldn't come if any kids were watching.
So he wanted to set our video baby monitor up so they could watch on that.  Silly boy.  Santa won't come until all kids are asleep.

So the children all nestled all snug in their beds; While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. 

And we gave them a 7 o'clock in the morning curfew that they had to stay in bed until.  And when I was all set up with my video camera and trusty Canon, they broke loose...

And when the boys remembered that they were hungry, we had our traditional breakfast.

And then Princess Anna decided she'd had enough sugar plum dreams, and she wanted to come down and see what this Christmas thing was all about.

Leah showed her how her ball toy worked.  She wanted to make sure it got played with correctly and didn't think Anna would do a good enough job.  We had to convince her to share.

Her daddy showed her how the whole unwrapping thing worked. She wasn't awake enough yet to understand why, for the past month we told her 'no' whenever she touched the presents, but now we want her to take the paper off. Is this some sort of trick?

Ball?  Paper?  Meh...either one is fun to chew on.

So we thought that taking a quick Christmas pajama picture of all the kids wouldn't be too much to ask.  With five kids?  One of them has to be crying.  (It was Anna that made Leah cry!  Look at that little smile on her face!)

Droid phone, Gators cups and a remote control helicoptor.

 New Bible with cover and a monthly massage gift certificate.

We tried to get a photo of the kids with their 'joint gifts' before Anna escaped.

My favorite 'gift' this Christmas for our family...a little boy from Myanmar that we are sponsoring through World Vision.  I walked into Family Christian store one day and knew it was the perfect gift.  I waited until Chris could go back with me and we picked out a child together.  Chris had to research Myanmar/Burma for work and knew how awful the conditions in that country are because of the government.  Christopher's favorite missionary from our missionary studies last year was Adoniram Judson who went to Myanmar.  This boy is Christopher's age and we are excited to be able to bless his community and to correspond with him through letters and pictures.  We would like to eventually be able to sponsor five different children that are the same ages as our children. 

Aside from all of the pretty wrapping paper and shiny bows and piles of new stuff, we want our children to remember that it's something else that makes Jesus' gift of life so special.  It's loving Him, and loving others, that is the reason for His birth and for this Christmas celebration.

I hope you had a wonderful, loving Christmas!