Jo & I had the privilege of taking a trip to Belize last week with some friends of ours and their church group. Our goal was to love on some kids by doing a little Vacation Bible School, building part of a basketball court, and teaching them some basketball skills. I took 3.8 million photos and made a little movie. The photos will be ready later this week, but the video is ready now. Enjoy.
Hey hey hey!!! Long time no personal updates. Sorry. I know you all have been dying to know what’s going on with my little herd of people. Well, here is the rundown since the beginning of 2014. (Many of these have been pulled from Instagram. You should follow me there.)
The boys all enjoyed playing a bit of basketball. Jo was given the nickname J-Money and Luke & Eli loved being teammates.
That one time it almost snowed the kids tried to make snow angles.
2014 is really shaping up to be Eli’s year. He turned 5 and finally was able to sign Eli Maldonado and thus was granted his very first library card.
One of our favorite parts about homeschooling is all the random field trips. Our kids love museums and zoos, so we visit them often. :)
Eli thinks he could take on anything.
Jo turned 11 which means birthday parties have transitioned from cake and silly games to going and getting pizza while dad sits at another table. (This is me crying on the inside.)
Other cool things that happened were Sara’s first dance and Jo getting his baptism on.
Basketball is our favorite sport. We like the way they dribble up and down the court. Jo & I made our annual trip to the Texas high school state tournament as well as a Rockets game with young Luke.
Eli is now building Lego sets and trying to sell them to other people.
When the school year came to an end, everyone received their diploma. Boring diplomas are for public school. ;)
On to some of our Summer Adventures. 1st up was Box Day. The kids had a blast with this one. The massive box fort actually stayed up about 5-6 days, too. Crawling through and in there, totally made me feel like a little kid again.
Danielle left for 2 days and I managed to chip Luke’s tooth and get a new high score on Flappy Bird. All in all, a good weekend.
We were lucky enough to spend a couple of days out at Lake Tyler Petroleum Club. It’s super fun out there. You can also get married out there. (Give them a call ladies.)
May the Fourth. Big day at our place.
Danielle and I surprised Jo with this double feature. She took him to see Captain America. Then when they pulled in, I got in and took him to see Spider-man. By far the hardest part about having this many kids is making sure we carve out time for each of them on their own. Our kids love hanging out as a family, but when we give them one on one time, it’s like this other side of them shows up and it’s great to just soak it all in.
Sara turned 9 and busted out this new t-shirt. “My brother has the best sister. (Me!)” She then made all of them take a photo with her. Because you know… she’s totally in charge.
Another Summer Adventure. Beach!!!!
We took this first photo back when Jo was 2; right after Sara had been born. Anytime we are in Galveston, we try and recreate it. (Photo credit: Sara) I hope that one day he can wheel Danielle & I up there and sit between our chairs.
I am so proud of Sara. For just about a year now, she has been saving and earning as much money as she can. She wants to go on a cruise and has a chart she has been filling in along the way. Every other month, we have “spending day” where the kids can spend their salary on what they have been saving for. Every other month, Sara watches them all come home with new toys/books/games, and she sticks her money in a jar, colors in some squares and inches that much closer to her 5 day dream vacation.
Eli lost his first tooth just last week. It was kinda of a HUGE deal.
This shot is one of my favorites. It’s Eli being a little bit sad because it hurt when he pulled his tooth, but it’s Danielle being a lot of bit sad when she realized we’ll never have another kid lose their first tooth.
This is where this post gets kinda creepy but good. So get ready. :)
When your kid loses their first tooth, you keep it. Because that’s what you are supposed to do. Because…. it’s what you do. Then they lose another one and you keep it to. Why not. We have a little baggie. Just toss it in. Then one day you look up and you’ve had 4 kids and 3 of them have been losing teeth and you have 3 bags full of teeth. So Danielle and I looked at each other and thought. This is strange. Why would they ever want these? We should chunk them. But then in a stroke of creepy brilliance, I decided to wait ’til Eli lost his first tooth. I had this image in my mind of Eli’s tooth next to all the others he’s had to endure.
You see, Eli has been around to see all these other teeth pop out. And, as the youngest, he’s always wanted to lose a tooth. Not for the dollar under the pillow, but more for the status symbol. I, too, am one of you guys. I can lose a tooth. I’m just as big as you.
So month after month, year after year, teeth would come out and Eli would continue to long for his day. His day when he would also be a “big boy”.
Well, last week, that day finally came. He ripped that bad boy out just as he’d seen his brothers and sister do 42 other times.
He was now just like them. He could lose a tooth.
He was excited. Jo, Sara, and Luke were excited. Danielle and I were excited.
But then it started to set in.
He’s growing up.
As parents we are always aware of it. But every now and then moments happen where you can’t avoid seeing it.
That first time they don’t laugh at your dumb joke.
The first time they don’t want to hold your hand when walking into the store.
The first time they are not interested in your fashion advice.
The first time they lose a tooth.
As much as it’s tempting to feel your heart sink just a little, this is when we most need to take heart.
This is our job.
This is what we have been called to do.
Raising these tiny humans is our greatest challenge and doing that job well, means little milestones along the way.
Our family loves to play together. We are around each other so much, and Danielle and I can’t imagine any other life. At the same time, part of this life is growing and teaching these kids.
Teaching Jo to understand that being the biggest does not mean he can’t also be the most tender.
Teaching Sara that boys who don’t open doors are not worth opening your heart for.
Teaching Luke that being a good listener is more valuable than being a good dribbler.
Teaching Eli that patience is important.
That there is a time and season for everything. Even losing your first tooth.
UPDATE: ALL THE MINI SESSION SPOTS ARE SOLD.
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO SPREAD THE WORD.
Last year my 11 year old Jo and I were able to take a mission trip to Haiti. By the end of the 1st day Jo was hooked and could not wait to go back. I loved seeing him connect with kids from the other side of the world and I love how he came home understanding that there is a bit more to life than video games and new Lego sets. This year we are planning a trip to Belize. We will be helping build a basketball court in a village as well as teaching vacation bible school during the week. Jo loves basketball and playing with smaller kids so this will be right in his wheel house.
(This is the part where you come in.)
We are funding the trip ourselves and are still a bit short of the full amount. So I thought, why not see if anyone out there is interested in contributing?!? As a little thank you for your gift, I’ll come out and shoot a mini-session of your choice. Family, baby, maternity, senior, kittens? You pick it and I’ll shoot it. (These will take place in the East Texas area.) I’m only offering 10 of these so get em’ while they last.
10 mini-sessions, $150 bucks each. All proceeds go to getting Jo & I to Belize.
Two more things…
1. If you don’t need photos, but still want to donate. That’s allowed. (Email me here: email@example.com)
2. If you don’t need photos, and don’t want to donate. That’s also allowed, passing this post along to others would be a HUGE help.
(Email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to book a session.)
Here is a little video I put together from our trip last year.
It’s that time of year again, as we flip the calendar and look towards April and all things spring, it’s the time of year when our little house celebrates one of our favorite holidays. I’m talking of course about Snake Attack Day.
7 years ago while sitting at my desk working I heard Danielle let out a blood curdling scream. Being someone who likes to document events I grabbed my camera and headed her way. The following video is the result.
So now each year we celebrate our victory over the slithery beast. We partake in gummy worms and crushed oreos to remind us of how close we came to defeat. We tell tells of battles won against the serpents of yesteryear. We share theses stories to remind the young that one day their time will come. They will have a family and house of their own to defend. And just when all hope seams lost they will think back on April 5, 2006 and remember how their father conquered the carnivorous reptile and protected his legacy and linage.
Happy Snake Attack Day everyone.