Monday, December 31, 2007

13 years and counting.....

We just celebrated 13 years together, years of growing and learning, lots of fun and tears too. I never really knew that I would love being married to my Robb so much, nor did I know the struggles and adjustments that would follow our "I dos". He is a delight to be around and I am thankful for his love and dedication to our little family. He constantly surpasses my expectations as a father, and with all he does to enrich the kids' lives, he still finds time to do things for me that mean a lot. The thought goes through my head almost daily, "I sure hope Lauren can find a husband like Robb." That is my prayer, along with "Please, God...may our 4 boys grow to be Godly men like their father." Christmas was wonderful...we were privileged to spend Christmas Eve with Gramps and Nana before they flew out to PA on Christmas morning. We had snow, which just added to the magic!
Lauren and Nana made pies together...
In the front of the house...winter wonderland!
Robb pulled the kids around the yard on sleds...I don't know who had more fun!
Just before Christmas Eve dinner...Nana and Lauren's hard work paid off!

Christmas Day was delightful. We had friends, Tony and Amy, come for dinner and then the afternoon and evening was spent playing games with them.
We have been enjoying time in the snow, with each other, and with friends. Today we are "on our own" as Tucker is sick. So far, just Tucker! One can always hope that it doesn't move through the family!

Happy New Year to all -"He makes all things new!"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A "Happy Birthday, Jesus" Party

In an attempt to have the children remember the real "Reason for the season", we invited a few friends (from our school's co-op....most everyone else is still in school) and we PARTIED! It was a fun morning of playing guns (anytime there's boys around, you know...) decorating graham cracker houses, eating pizza and then singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. One of the moms then reminded the kids that Jesus instructed us to show our love to Him by loving others, and that is why we give gifts to others at this time of year. It was a meaningful time with several religions (including LDS and Catholic) represented, and I hope the kids will remember it for a long time.

Now off to mop the floor and clean things up a bit... :)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Beautiful Reminder

I wanted to share something that touched my heart.

I hope you take a moment with your older kids to stop and watch this beautiful video of
"Mary, Did you Know?" sung by Kathy Mattea. (Just click on the above link.) It brings tears to my eyes...such wonderful theology in the simple words ..."this child that you delivered will soon deliver you."

As a mother of a little baby boy this Christmas, I have thought on all the care-taking things she did for Him, all the while knowing that He was the Son of God. She must have been so protective as He began to crawl and move around, that He would stay safe and healthy. She must have worried that He was getting enough to eat and sleeping enough and that He was developing normally. She must have fretted over diaper rashes, teeth coming in and ear infections. She must have wondered why she was chosen for the job of giving so much time and attention to this little one and it must have been bittersweet, knowing that He had a very special mission to accomplish.

I hope you enjoy this reminder of why He came as a little baby in the be one of us.

God is with us...God is for us...Emmanuel.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Here is our finished product...our wonderful, imperfect, "Charlie Brown" tree. The kids and Robb had a great time decorating while I added Christmas touches to other parts of the great thing about this tree is the gorgeous smell! I really would not trade it for a perfect tree for that very reason!

It is always fun to add another stocking to the fireplace, but as I looked at the "bunch" we have, I felt a little overwhelmed to think that we have this many little ones to raise to be Godly people (as in "Are these kids really all ours?")! For some strange reason, it was a visual for me and reminded me of the awesome responsibility Robb and I have as parents of these 5 impressionable souls! Our small group has been talking about parenting lately and we have been reading Deut. chapters 6, 7, and 8 - God's principles for raising kids. I can definitely feel overwhelmed with this when I begin to fear and not trust in God's strength and begin to feel that I have to do it on my own. My prayer is that this Christmas season will be for me one of quiet (in my heart; certainly not in the house!) and focusing on the Christ who came to be one of us, to teach us how to live. Whew! I need His strength!

Changes in our house include Preston learning how to crawl. His little knees stay red these days and he is getting into things I forgot babies could get into. He is driving the kids crazy as he gets into all of their things. I told Lauren that all babies do this and that I would soon begin teaching him what he can not get into. She rather curtly replied, "Well, today would be a great day to start!" This made me laugh...there is nothing like parenting advice from a 10 year old! Tucker, on the other hand, loves to make him happy by giving him things that are not good for him. Add all of this with a mouth bulging with teeth to come in (one did pop through) and a double ear infection. Oh, the changes each stage brings! And now there are more of us to adjust!

May your December days be merry and bright!!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thanksgiving Day...and the Christmas Festivities Begin!

Our Thanksgiving, and everyday prayer, hung by our little table: "Oh Thou, who has given us so much, grant us one more thing - a thankful heart."

Before we get too far into the Christmas season, I wanted to post a couple of fun things. (warning: this is a bit long, but I had to fit a lot in.) Thanksgiving was different this year without Robb here, but it was a good day and our hearts were full of THANKS. Lauren made a delicious apple pie for us, as part of the food that we took to our dear friends' home, Willy and Lewis.
Here Lewis is getting the boys' table set and ready for them to eat. Kody, Jayce, Drew and Dawson.
Willy and my good friend Amy (also Willy's niece) sign Amy's "Thankful Tablecloth". Each year whomever she eats with signs what they are thankful for.
This is Preston and Kade, Willy and Lewis' grandson. These little ones have something special in common....they were born about 7 minutes apart, both 4 weeks early and spent several days in the same NICU. It was fun to see them together! Kade is a cutie!!

On Friday after Thanksgiving, we went with Gramps and Nana on the Thunder Mountain Train ride. We rode about an hour on a very old train that is now just used for tourist events. It was a very fun time. Even though there was no snow, the singing of carols, stories and Santa helped put us in the Christmas mood!
Gramps and the boys look out the window.
Our sweet Gramps and Nana! Our kids so love to have them come to visit!

The cute singers that led us in Christmas songs.

And today (Satrday) we headed to the mountains with some friends to find a Christmas tree. What a great time we had, with the snow falling down and the kids sledding down the hills. Above is the Orr family who brought the 4 wheelers that we all enjoyed.
These are the adults (well, Preston is on Robb's back in the backpack)....
...and these are the kids! Can you believe that out of all those 12 kids, 11 were boys! Lauren takes it all in stride...she is used to boys and loves playing with them.

Thanks to lots of layers of clothes, snow suits for kids and baby, hot cocoa, and hand and toe warmers, we all had a wonderful time. Robb and I are so thankful for our fabulous friends to share life with and we were glad to take this day to enjoy relationships and make memories. We hope to not schedule our days too tightly so we can enjoy many more fun events this Christmas season. We are trying as a family to not focus on the gifts (sort of hard in this culture sometimes), but rather on The Gift! Happy December! (The following video clips are of Preston and Gramps, and then Lauren and Drew playing at their vioin Christmas concert last night.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Welcome, Paul, to the family!

Robb is safely home from Alaska! Yeah!
He loved being there for Kathy's wedding and had many wonderful things to say about Paul and his 5 grown children. We are so happy for Kathy and are praying for Jessica, Bradley, Jodi and Brandon that this will be a smooth transition/adjustment time and that the days to come will be good ones. Their story is one of sorrow and joy, losing and finding love again. Robb so enjoyed being with his sisters for the few hours he was there, as well as seeing many old friends at the reception.
Robb said that the service was an amazing tribute to the spouses that had gone on, as well as a celebration to the goodness of God. Kathy is such an inspiration and walking through these dark days has allowed God to shine brightly through her life. Welcome, Paul! We are proud to call you family!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow..."

This is the sentiment from my very thankful heart tonight. We just dropped Robb off at the airport as he is heading out tonight to Alaska to attend his sister's (Kathy) wedding and be with his family for Thanksgiving. We were sad to see him go, but so glad that this worked out for him and he can be there to celebrate with his sis and see his family there. The days will go by quickly, I'm certain, and the kids are already talking about whose turn it is to sleep with mom.

Our plans for tomorrow include a lazy breakfast of egg casserole and fruit, playing around the house, eating dinner with friends, and Nana and Gramps coming in tomorrow evening (their plans were changed due to a big snow storm in Montana).

As I sit here in a warm house with the smell of praline apple pie baking, I look at my children, bathed and in their cozy PJs, watching a movie, and I am thankful for all I have. The list is incredibly long...every good thing in my life comes from my Heavenly Father. He has been teaching me this year to practice a thankful heart every day, not just on Thanksgiving. Some days this is harder than others, but the little song is so true: "A thankful heart is a happy heart" and my attitude is a great gauge and reminder to me to stop and count the blessings in my life. It really changes everything! My prayer is that this year finds my heart thankful many more days and moments than not!

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."

Philosopher Cicero

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy 3rd Birthday, Tucker!

Our little sweet boy turned 3 on Sunday! We knew we had a busy day on Sunday so we celebrated on Saturday. This was the most anticipated birthday in the history of the French household. I love the fact that as the kids grow, they love to celebrate the special moments. On this day, Tucker made all their preparations worthwhile! He so loved all that the "big kids" did for him...I think he really felt like a king for the day!
Tucker had talked about having a football cake for a couple of months. Thanks, Shauna, for lending us the pan. It made our task so easy!

We had promised Drew and Lauren a special outing of some kind for practicing violin faithfully. Whenever they go to practice violin, we light their special candle. When they are finished they blow it out and it is a great visual we use so that they can see how much they have been practicing. Well, they have been PRACTICING! And the candles were gone! So with that in mind, we decided to take advantage of our day together for Tucker's birthday and take the family to Boondocks, which is a family-fun place with games, pizza, laser tag, mini golf, ect. It was a rainy night outside so we all stayed inside and had a wonderful time. Robb and I even got to do some racing!! I think he always won, but it was sure fun!

Preston even enjoyed the evening...I think he was on sensory overload by the time we left!
Drew and Jayce racing (When we were kids, my mom would always let us lick the bowl and utensils, especially if it was our cake.) Here is Tuck enjoying his batter, with help from Dad.

Tucker, you feel our lives with so much joy! We love how you are growing up to be such a great guy, and you do seem to be growing and changing so quickly (my theory is that you are trying to keep up with those big brothers!). I especially like to hear what is on your little mind and love it that you can talk to us so well now. My heart just swells when I hear you quoting your Bible verses..."The Lord is my shepherd. I shall lack nothing..." and I hope you soon experience what those verses are talking about. Your smile can brighten the dreariest of days and we love you more each day! I know that God has big, big plans for you, little one! For now I count it a privilege to be your mom and spend so many days and hours with you.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

More Fall Fun

This year, a chef, an air-force pilot, an American soilder, and 2 lions hopped in our surbuban and rode with me to Boise First Church of the Nazarene where they
all received a bag full of candy (that will last until Easter, I'm sure). We had such a wonderful time this year! The weather was very nice and it was pleasant to be outside. We met Robb there where he was busy directing traffic, but he took a few minutes to ooh and aah over all the kids. Our church has been doing "Trunk or Treat" since we have been going there (almost 6 years) and there are a few thousand people who come through, some never to be seen until next Halloween, but they know it is a safe place. I spent an hour or so face-painting (there was no training involved and it was obvious!). The kids played in jump houses and talked with friends.

It was a nice evening...but I have to say I'm glad it only comes once a year!
Love the little lion tail!

Can you see him?!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Nancy Drew Club - anyone care to join?

Below is an unedited email that was sent to Lauren by her friend. Lauren and Julianne are the leaders of this club. I thought it was too cute...and not bad advice, either!






Monday, October 29, 2007

The Pumpkin Patch

Late Saturday afternoon, we headed to the Linder Farm for a fun evening with our dear friends, the Mullins. They are always so much fun to be with and a great activity is always so much more fun for the kids when the Mullins kids are along. The weather was perfect, a little crisp, but not too cold. We enjoyed the ride to the pumpkin patch first, ate a hamburger, and then headed to the corn maze. By the time we finished, we were getting a little cold, but we had a gorgeous full moon to light the path. Here are a few pictures...enjoy.

Tucker, Jayce, Lauren, Preston, Brandon, Zach, Drew, Kendra and Kaden.