31 May 2016

General George S. Patton Memorial Museum

 A statue of General Patton with his dog, William the Conqueror (a.k.a. Willie)

Remembering the fallen soldiers.

 The center trained more than 1 million men for battle.

 Patton was known as a tough general but he was liked by all for his willingness to lead by example.

An old typewriter. One of the many artifacts from this time period of military history. 

Zach kept his eye on General Patton while enjoying his snack.

 We enjoyed a short informational movie about Patton and the Desert Training Center.



 Big trucks...

 Fire tanks.

The chapel.

We've been wanting to visit this museum for a while now. Especially since it's only about 30 minutes away from our house. The folks from the museum came out to the school last week and gave a presentation so the girls came home knowing a little bit about General Patton (and his dog, Willie).

We thought it would be a great way to kick off and commemorate Memorial Day as a family and it was. We especially enjoyed looking at the collection of war artifacts and military memorabilia. Zach enjoyed the big tanks and trucks.

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. But rather we should thank God that such men lived." -Gen. George S. Patton

A relaxing Memorial Day weekend

Zach's doing great!

 Making a choo-choo train with his sissies.

Having big sisters means they like to dress you up. :)

 Although he can't go in the pool for 2 weeks, he still likes to help daddy with the chores. 

He wants to do EVERYTHING daddy does so Morgan got him his own little skimmer. :)

The girls enjoyed a swim while Zach took his nap.

S'mores, anyone?

Marshmallow ears.

Having too much fun.

The fire pit works as a backyard campfire.

Enjoying her treat.

And that's a wrap!

Since Zach can't go in the pool or near any sand or dirt for 2 weeks, we had to take it pretty easy this weekend, which was fine by us. Thankfully, the wind finally died down so at least he could go outside and play (which he LOVES to do).

We relaxed, played, read books, grilled out, watched movies, and made s'mores.

Sounds about perfect to me. 

In fact, I can't wait for more weekends just like this!

27 May 2016

Zach's Eye Surgery

In his hospital gown, watching videos with dad.

Thank you so much for all those that prayed for Zachary.

Surgery went well yesterday and his eyes are already looking much straighter. Praise the Lord! True to form, and no wuss to adversity, Zach dove into surgery with ease. We had to leave for Loma Linda at 5:15 in the morning. I was a little nervous about the fact he couldn't eat a thing or drink a drop of liquid ALL morning. Especially since he usually wakes up and one of the first things he looks forward to (other than seeing his family), is to have his bottle of milk.

And YES, I still give him a bottle. Why? Because he loves it and I see no real harm in letting him have it for just a little while longer. :)

God answered our prayers all throughout the morning and Zach ended up doing just fine. He went into surgery a little after 9:00 and he was done in 80 minutes.

Another thing I was a little anxious about was that fact that he was going to be under full anesthesia and that he would need a breathing tube during surgery. Because of his prematurity and his extensive experience with breathing tubes (MRSA and pneumonia in the NICU), we've worked hard to help him overcome eating solid foods over the last year. Thankfully, right before surgery, the anesthesiologist came out and told us he wasn't going to need the kind of breathing tube that went all the way down his throat. They ended up using one that just went into his mouth. Another sweet mercy! Thank you, Lord!

His surgery was uneventful and he did wonderfully!

 Our sweet brave boy right after surgery, trying to wake up from the anesthesia.

Safe is his Father's arms.

As we arrived early in the morning to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, I felt a mix of dreading yet another children's hospital and also, being extremely grateful for them. In the big scheme of things, this surgery for Zach was very minor. There are kids in these hospitals fighting major illnesses and their parents are struggling just to be brave and keep hope alive.

I have experienced both major and minor now and my heart goes out to every parent who has ever had to step foot in a children's hospital.

Just like UCSF, these folks were amazing and they took good care of us. They will continue to monitor Zach's eyes going forward, as only time will tell...

After coming home in the afternoon and lots of rest, our boy was eating like a champ again by dinnertime.

In fact, it wasn't long before he was running around the house and kicking his ball. :)

Today, he's back to his normal playful self. :)

Only close up, can you see the redness (which will heal in a few days) on the sides of his eyes.

By God's grace, this has been another hurdle our boy has overcome. We're praying this surgery will help his eye muscles to remain straight and last a lifetime, or at least for many many years to come. 

Praising God in advance for Zach's complete healing and restoration, as well as the redemptive power He continues to display in Zach's precious life!

24 May 2016

Update on Zach: Praise and Surgery

A couple of weeks ago, we took Zachary to his developmental check-up appointment. It was the last of 3 appointments we had spanning the course of 18 months.

We were so grateful to hear he's doing phenomenal! Not only physically but cognitively and mentally as well. He impressed the occupational therapists and doctors with just how far he's really come. Technically, he's a 22 month old but in reality, they were looking to see if he was developmentally on track for a 19 month old, since he was born 3 months premature.

They said he was not only on track, but he has now SURPASSED some of the milestones of a 24 month old. Basically, he's all caught up!

Hallelujah!! God is so good.

This kid had so much going against him early on in his life but God, He wasn't done with him yet!

Today, we are all as smitten as ever with our miracle boy.

He's a very active, smart, playful, joy-filled toddler who makes our days sweeter and reminds of the goodness of God.  


Surgery: another hurdle to overcome...

For the last year, we've been patching Zach's right eye (his stronger one) for 2 hours each day. At the moment, this is the only time he ever wears his glasses. We patch in order to make his left eye (the weaker one that drifts) stronger. The day has come where his left eye is finally strong enough to have corrective eye muscle surgery.

If you think about it on Thursday morning, please keep Zach in your prayers.

One thing's for sure, he is one tough kid and he's no stranger to overcoming obstacles. We know the Lord will watch over Him and we trust Him for a successful surgery, according to His will and His perfect plan for our boy.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

23 May 2016

Faith's Spring Piano Recital

Our lovely pianist did a WONDERFUL job!

Here she is with Miss Sierra, her teacher for the last 6 months.

Ellie did a fantastic job, too!

Always fun to perform and be supported by friends.

So proud of our Faith!

Zach decided to help other grandmas out with their walkers.

And Matthew was so kind to give Zach a little guitar lesson.

This was the first recital where there were no grandparents present. Grandma never missed one and when my dad was able to come, he always brought flowers for the girls.

But God in His grace...He provided family through the gathering of all our dear friends. We didn't even know they were coming that morning, nor that they would bring flowers for our girl. :)

Grandma's spirit must have been with Faith because all morning long, she was so calm and poised, humble yet confident.

She played her song the BEST we've ever heard her play it!
(I posted a little clip on my Instagram feed)

Considering school took up so much time this year, we are so proud of her and all the hard hours she put into practicing.

Well done, Faith! Congrats on a beautiful recital!

20 May 2016

Summer Read-Alouds

With only 14 days left of school, the countdown to summer has begun and we're happily creating our family's summer read-aloud list over here. Even though the girls are great readers, we've always been big proponents of reading to them OUT LOUD. In fact, with the girls going to school this year, reading out loud has been one of the biggest things we've missed with them. By the time they got home, a typical day consisted of school work, dinner, showers, and studying. This took up most of our evenings. We didn't even have time to read out loud anymore.  

We've missed the great discussions, the laughter, the closeness, the suspense, the excitement for one more chapter and the many life lessons we learn together by reading good books out loud.

With the end of the year approaching and school work slowing down a bit, we've already begun to sink our teeth into a couple of these books and it's been so wonderful to reclaim that time together.

We can't wait to dig into the rest!

Is it summer yet?? :)

Zach is also getting to the point now where if you ask him if he wants to read a book, he'll run over to the bookshelf and pick out a book for himself. Then he'll plop down on the floor and wait for you to sit down next to him and start reading. His attention span is getting much better, too!

This kid should build quite a vocabulary over time if he has 4 capable readers in the house, reading to him every day! It's so sweet to see the older ones reading to their baby brother. Gah! I love it!

School Update

Aren't they the cutest? They said they're going to MISS wearing these uniforms!

Well, we're quickly approaching the "home stretch" of the school year and like most parents, we're looking forward to summer and the respite we get to share as a family.

This year has been phenomenal for the girls. They faced challenges head-on and adapted through all the trials and changes we encountered as a family. We could not be more proud of them!

God knew exactly what He was doing when He asked us to trust Him by sending them to school.

We have enjoyed many aspects of school for the girls. For example, I feel like it has helped them to embrace the fact that they are unique individuals, rather than a constant pair. They have grown more confident in who they are-- their strengths, their weaknesses, and their gifts! They've been recognized for their character (by someone other than us) and the sense of pride and accomplishment they've experienced, both personally and academically have been priceless. We're also grateful for the opportunities they've been given-- not only to be a light to their peers but for the daily opportunities they get to make their own right choices. The structure, the discipline, and the relationships they've made through school... it's all been GOOD. Very good.

It's been a great year at JCA and we've been so blessed by the teachers and administrators who have become our friends.

So imagine our surprise and sadness when the founders of the school announced back in March the school would be closing its doors permanently in June.

Most of the kids cried when they heard the news (some of the parents and teachers did, too).

To be honest, at that point, although we hadn't formally talked or prayed about it yet, the girls would have probably attended JCA next year.

So immediately, at the end of March (it was actually on the girls' birthday that we found out the school was closing) we had to start praying and looking into what 5th grade might look like for the girls.

Over the last couple of months, we've done a lot of research. We've met with well respected administrators and took into account the recommendations of the girls' teachers, as well as seasoned friends. We've prayed and we've given it much thought. Most importantly, we've asked God to lead us in His will for the girls.

Last year, we had no idea we were going to send the girls to school until the week before school started. We hoped His answer for us would come quicker this time, but we didn't know for sure.

Thankfully, as the months unfolded, His answer became more clear.

We will be homeschooling again next year.

We considered seriously sending the girls to another stellar private Christian school but in the end, for all the benefits that school offered, we felt like the most important things it lacked, at least for our family, was time and freedom.

Time to be together and not be inundated in the evenings with the repetitiveness of mundane homework or memorization, just for the sake of memorization. Time to just be a family. Time to pray, to laugh, to read, to watch movies, to play outside, or just go out to dinner if we wanted to.

In the end, time is all we have. And we missed that greatly this past year.

With that, we also lost some of our freedom to do the things we love to do. Like travel! Or be a bit more spontaneous.

I'm so grateful that I got to experience what it's like to be a mom whose kids go to school. I have a whole new respect for families who do the daily grind-- the moms (and dads) who make lunches, carpool, help out at school all day, help their kids with homework after school, supervise projects, get their kids to extra curricular activities each week, and then make dinner every night! Not to mention keeping up with the laundry and the rest of the housework...Whew!! No wonder summer is SO VERY welcomed come June!

Seriously, my girlfriends, Holly, Mindy, and Heather...you girls are rock stars. You give a whole new meaning to the word, "Supermom."

We knew in order to homeschool again, it would have to look different for us than it had been in the past. The girls definitely thrive on structure and discipline but I knew with Zach, I wouldn't have the time to teach the girls in every subject. Plus, I'll be honest, teaching them academically at this age isn't my particular gifting. But God already knew that so He provided me some help in this area through a dear friend of mine. Lyndi is a teacher, a homeschooling pioneer, and also happens to be my sweet neighbor! How good is God?!

I love how faithful He is to work out all the details when it's His plan.

Lyndi will be helping me with the girls twice a week. Mostly in math, grammar, and writing while I focus on what I do best... bible, discipleship, and everything else. We're also hoping to attend a homeschool co-op for the first time next year. The co-op meets once a week for half the day and the girls will have many different classes to choose from. Hopefully, Spanish will be taught at the co-op because I'd hate for the girls to lose what they learned this year.

All this to say, we're incredibly blessed to have lots of options and resources here so we're piecing together our schooling for next year and trusting that God has a plan for this, too. We couldn't be more grateful to Him. Grateful for all that's happened this year and grateful for what's to come. There is no doubt the girls loved going to school. They still do! But they're also really excited about being homeschooled again, too. It's been a special year for them. Packed full of awesome memories, milestones, and accomplishments.

This year has taught us a huge lesson in keeping our hearts and our hands open for whatever God has in mind for us. He has a plan and purpose for everything. Sometimes, we can be stubborn or prideful in our own ways but there is no greater joy or contentment than when we follow Him, obediently and boldly.

I've also gained a new perspective about school for my kids. I have no idea what the future holds for them-- be it homeschool, private school, or even public school at some point. All I know is that He loves them, He cares for them, and He has great plans for them. Plans to use them for His glory, if we allow Him to.

He simply asks us, "Do you trust Me?"

In the end, isn't that the most important lesson we can teach our children?

That God is trustworthy and that His plans are good.

We're looking forward to next year but in the meantime, we're focusing on finishing well and finishing strong.

Praise the Lord, the countdown to summer has begun!

To God be the glory.

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