Sunday, December 28, 2008

Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular

My mom, Madi, Carson, and Ally and I along with my Aunt, cousins and some of their kids went downtown today to see the Rockettes in their Christmas Spectacular show.

My mom has a tradition of taking her grandkids (which are all my kids) to the Nutcracker every year at Christmas. This year, we couldn't get tickets (and by couldn't get I mean that we wouldn't pay $80 a ticket) but my mom and her sister had the great idea to see this production instead. I think you can only take so many Nutcrackers in a row, so I think switching it up might work well.

The only boys in the bunch: second cousins, Carson and Cason (funny huh?!) Cason kept asking if it was over!

My cousin-in-law, Wendy (isn't she beautiful?!), and her sweet McKenna.

Nana is so great at making memories with her grandkids... and she makes sure we get good pictures too! :)

The scantily clad tap dancing beauties even cleared the stage for a beautiful telling of the Christmas story... the real one, not the one about believing in Santa making you able to fly. It was surprisingly worshipful. The vocalists sang a powerful rendition of Hark the Herald Angels sing (my favorite!). I even noticed Carson wipe away a tear.

We had a great time together. Aunt Kathy brought binoculars which allowed the kids to see details up close. A dancing bear slipped, which Carson got a kick out of, and the girls have been practicing their Rockette high kicks all evening.

Tale of Despereaux

We had lunch with our tons of fun friends, the Kershes, yesterday and then went to see the Tale of Despereaux. I didn't have any expectations for the movie seeing as the last mouse movie I saw (Ratatouille) was a huge disappointment ~ plus, it hasn't been getting the greatest reviews. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I loved this movie.
It's target audience is a little bit older than some animated films (meaning, the twins played games on my cell phone through most of it). It has a darker feel to some of the movie and has multiple characters and plots. I fell in love with little Despereaux from the moment he came on the screen. He is a little mouse, longing for adventure, committed to honor and decency. The final message of the film is that forgiveness is one of the greatest thing anyone can experience -whether giving or receiving. Like every kids movie I see, it was 20 minutes too long, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie-going experience.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Logistics

It's hard to not make Christmas "all about the presents" when there are so many of them!!! We got 3 gifts each for our little ones and 2 each for the oldest 3 (plus their money.. just couldn't let them get nothing.. I'll update on their project soon). But when you have 7 kids the sheer number of gifts just seems ridiculous (or redonkulous if saw Bolt) even if they each only have a few. Once you add in a few from grandparents and uncles we have a small mountain.

Here's the set up:
Everyone gets their own spot on the floor. Mommy hands out the gifts, takes pictures and does crowd control while daddy films with the video camera and picks up trash.
Each child has their own tub to put their gifts once opened, after which they return to their spot on the floor (and in case you're wondering, no, I did not get this idea from John and Kate plus 8, I've been doing it since before they had a show!). I know, it sounds like Christmas boot camp - and yes, I am the drill sergeant. But you can't imagine the chaos that ensues if they are able to grab and open gifts on their own. It is just a necessity.

Everyone wakes up (at 7 ha ha ) singing "Good Christian Men Rejoice!" and once the grown ups are ready they all get to their spots.

It always seems to vary at this point.. whether we read something, sing Happy Birthday, or something else. What doesn't change is starting with the stockings. I love the stockings - don't know why - just do. Then we take turns opening gifts and watching others open gifts. I was really proud of my big kids this year. They had fewer gifts than the others but shared in the delight of their younger siblings to an generous degree. I was so proud of them, yet again.

Here's Madi snuggled with her Daddy watching the last of the gifts being opened.

Then there are a dozen pictures of kids opening gifts - which I think are rarely ever good pictures - yet I take them every Christmas and birthday. Here is Tyson with a Little Einstein gift ~ maybe this will be the last year he is obsessed with them!

Once the gifts start winding down Papa jumps in the kitchen to make his famous pancakes. Mommy and Daddy try to sneak in naps in between cleaning and helping put together toys, which leads right into meal prep. There is excitement in the air and a sense of relaxation that it is finished. This year, there is a great desire on my part to see some the excitement of waiting for Jesus carry into the New Year. I'll let you know how that goes.

A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

One thing I want to blog about from Christmas day is my sweet little Piper. Does every parent know the feeling of watching your young child open a gift, hoping they will be excited about it or at least grateful if nothing else? Has your child ever thoroughly embarrassed you by tossing it aside to just move on to the next? Did you read my previous post where Tyson said "I don't like this" to the pajamas my parents gave him on Christmas Eve? It's a horrible feeling. You feel like your child is a spoiled brat and that you've failed to instill something important in them. BUT NOT OUR LITTLE PIP!

This little darling was so delighted with each thing she opened! I've never seen such a thing from a 12 month old. She would squeal and clap and then sit and play with that particular gift until her next one came. It was crazy cute. She has an joy filled little personality. I love it.. and want some of it!

Christmas Eve Service

The Christmas Eve service is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Old Forest Road Baptist used to do a midnight candlelight service and I loved it. I guess a midnight service is not all that practical for a family with 7 young children. Our church does a wonderful job at pointing us to Christ in the midst of holiday bustle. This year our 6 oldest kids were asked to sing in the children's choir (they were a little desperate for more voices and Cole, Wilson, and Tyson were happy to fill in... or at least, so they thought).

Once we got there Wilson was just too scared to be up on the big stage. So, I took off his red tie and changed it out for Tyson's yellow one. They all did great. Of course, I expect nothing less from the oldest 3. Colson, who I was a bit worried about did great... I did catch a big yawn during O Come All Ye Faithful. Tyson was such a treat! He kept his hands in his pockets the whole time. He even said the girl next to him and behind him were telling him to take them out "and they laughed at me" he said. But man, was he cute! And he sang (or tried) every word!

After the service we celebrated (Carson's baptism and Christ's birth) at P.F. Changs. YUM! Then the kids got to open 2 of Nana and Papa's gifts... the traditional Christmas p.j.'s... to which Tyson's first response was "I don't like this." Oh well - that's why they get the close out of the way on Christmas eve!

That's just a snipet of the evening... the Christmas season is winding down but may our focus on the long expected Savior grow.

Public Professions

It is my greatest joy to post that my two oldest children have made public professions of faith by way of baptism. Madison was baptized Thanksgiving weekend and Carson was baptized in our Christmas Eve service. My heart was full and my tears plenty.

Childhood conversion can be such a tricky thing. We didn't want to slap assurance on a young child whose central desire was to please us but also didn't want to discourage them and their interest in following Christ. We have told even our youngest ones that we believe it very possible that the Lord could have changed their hearts and saved them but that mommy and daddy will be looking for fruit before they make their profession public (and that is a ridiculously concise way to try and explain a much bigger topic). We had told Madison almost a year ago that we were confident of the Lord's work in her heart and that we she was ready she could be baptized. She didn't take this lightly and said she was praying about the Lord's work in her heart. Finally, prior to Thanksgiving she told us she believed her doubts were not from God and that she wanted to follow Him all her days. Her baptism, by our friend, Chuck, was the greatest night in my life up till that point. Some parents dream of weddings days, graduation days, but for me, the day my children make public their faith was the one I was dreaming about.

Carson too had been talking about the Lord working in him. We were seeing a greater sensitivity to sin and a desire to obey. He was really touched by being in the Christmas production and asked Jason if they could please talk further so that he might move towards being able to be baptized. Jason took him to lunch (Carson picked Taco Bell) and had a delightful talk. Jason came home and said "If we didn't have any reservations about Madison, then we shouldn't have any about Carson."

Carson was delighted to work out a surprise for Nana and Papa, who didn't know he was getting baptized until he showed up in the baptistery. The Christmas Eve service is always one of my favorite things and watching my oldest son profess his faith and participate in the Lord's supper for the first time with such joy was so special.

I am begging the Lord to hold their hearts; to make them desperate for Him. I hope that they do not waste their lives but exhaust themselves advancing the Kingdom. I have two children who have begun a journey of faith. What a Christmas gift. May they persevere.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

He doesn't slumber or sleep

Anyone else with kids look forward to family coming so you can get a nap? Jason, Joby and I stayed up crazy late on Monday night so Tuesday I thought I'd take advantage of having Joby here and curled up on the couch while they were all watching some of a SMURFS dvd. While I was sleeping Joby took this picture with his phone.

That's me wrapped up in a red blanket with the twins on top and Madison beside. He thought it was pretty hilarious that even in my sleep my kids are drawn to me. I'm so used to it. At one point I did wonder if Joby's dog was on me but they all deny it. Despite being constantly touched I did get a little bit of a snooze.

Oh the distractions that come with children! They are so needy. Today when I tried to get away to use the restroom, I ended up having to hold Piper on my lap (guess I didn't get a picture of that :)). I thought that once we had our own bathroom that I might be able to shower in peace. But today's shower was full of its normal interruptions. I'll share three of them with you:

interruption 1: Will "Mommy, you will need to come wipe me when you get out of the shower. I am going to go poop."

interruption 2: Will "I just went LOTS of poop. And I think Uncle Joby could see me when he walked into the laundry room."

interruption 3: Will "I have a present for you... WIPES!" at which point I got to lean out of the shower and wipe his bottom. Ahhh - a poopy bottomed 4 year old with wipes... the gift that keeps on giving.

This is not just a funny thing that happened that I get to blog about - it is my every day, friends. I know everyone says there is coming a day that I will miss of this and I fully believe them - these days are precious - but I also think that I will enjoy the experience of taking a long, hot shower without any interruptions. But for today, this is my life and I love it. There is so much to be said about the phrase "labor of love." The inconveniences that come with 7 children don't bother me. I am overwhelmed sometimes with how blessed I think I am. I will gladly pour every last bit of myself in these darling, poopy, clingy, loud children.

Aren't you glad that we are not interruptions to our Heavenly Father? Aren't you glad that He is not exhausted from His sovereignty? He doesn't pine for naps. He doesn't doesn't need to retreat to a warm shower. He doesn't hint to the other members of the trinity at Christmas time about how much he wants a gift certificate to get an hour body massage. (I have no idea where that example came from!) No, Psalm 121 remind us

"I lift up my eyes to the hills- Where does my help come from?My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.He will not let your foot slip -He who watches over you will not slumber;Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."

His care for us is uninterrupted. He does not find us bothersome. He is a patient, loving Father in whom we can trust.

Monday, December 22, 2008

To Playdough or Not to Playdough

I hate shopping. I don't mind getting fun stuff for my kids, or others, or for myself - but I do not enjoy the process of shopping. Fortunately for me, Joby (my little brother and Dallas' most eligible bachelor) came into town today and went with me in the FREEZING night air to try and finish up my shopping. I always have fun with both my brothers. Here we are waiting in the customer service line at Target. We really complained about how cold it was (not to customer service - to each other). Joby's flashy iphone said it was 27 degrees but we were both certain it was much colder... you know, wind chill and stuff. I couldn't believe I had put back the $1.50 gloves I picked out... $1.50! What was I thinking? It was a pretty successful trip - but all the bags (including groceries) are still sitting out in van (even though we've been home a half hour)because we were too cold to bring them in! It seemed like something we needed to rope Jason into helping with. Hope the milk doesn't freeze.

Right before we checked out we stopped by the strategically placed "stocking stuffers" aisle to waste a little more money. Joby noticed some playdough and I gave him the thumbs down. A woman near by said "get the kids some playdough" and something like "don't be one of those moms who doesn't let her kids play with playdough." I told her I hated the mess and especially the mess it leaves in the grooves of our table. She confessed to just letting her playdough messes sit out until they harden and then vacuuming them up. We had some playful banter. I told her that I had a huge tub of playdough and accessories and she then accused me of having it hidden in a closet somewhere... ummm... has she been to my house???!
Guilty as charged. Anyhoo - didn't get the playdough and don't feel guilty about it. She can vacuum playdough into the new year - I have enough to clean.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Inside Out Christmas

We all get tired of the way Christmas can get - don't we? All the spending and wanting more ends up being burdensome. This year Jason commented that we were kinda having an "inside out" Christmas. Meaning... where we normally try to spend every last penny we can on our own family this year we're trying to spend much less and on others.

We signed up through our church to adopt a family. We were then assigned a family who is not as financially blessed as we are (and we always tend to think that WE don't have much money! Lord, forgive us!) and were given a list of things they might like for Christmas. Our family had a mom, a dad, and three kids. Our own children were delighted at the idea of giving up much of what they could get to be able to give to someone else. They loved going with us to do the shopping.

Today, Jason and the oldest 6 took the gifts. Jason said their tree looked like the one from the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Madison said their house was very small. They had no furniture in the living room except for a lawn chair. They are from Mexico and spoke next to no English. The kids were practicing what Spanish they knew all day (and I was hoping that they'd just stick to "gracias!"). What a lesson for my kids... and for me.

We knew we wouldn't have much money for Christmas gifts this year. About a month ago Jason clearly explained this to the kids after devotions one night. My favorite part of this holiday season came a few days later...

The three oldest children, knowing that gifts would already be fewer this year, asked if they could please request that anyone who might be buying them gifts (aunts, uncles, grandparents...) send money instead so that they could support a child through World Vision. I have never seen them so excited. They set off with little drawings showing how much money they had ($13) and how much they needed ($360). They made signs to put up by their beds that read "Remember, you are sponsoring a child!" They have planned and plotted every which way they can to try and raise more money. As they walk through the toy aisle at Target I see their eyes light up and I ask them if they are sure they don't just want a few gifts and they quickly, and firmly say "No." Madison and Ally were really excited when they realized that if they didn't raise enough money from Christmas donations they could just ask for money instead of gifts for their birthdays in January. They have come up with this ALL ON THEIR OWN and I truly believe it is stemming from something divine in their hearts. I am so proud of them.

The kids each received $10 in the mail today from Jason's Aunt Dolly. While the little boys were rambling off all the things they wanted to buy, Madi, Carson, and Ally ran to their collection bucket and joyfully recounted all their money I think they are up to just over $200. They are so delighted... and so am I. This year I really was feeling like my kids didn't have enough toys. I had told Jason weeks ago that I wanted more for them than their one tub of toys. How humbling and joyful to be rebuked by my own children's selflessness. They are advancing the Kingdom and adding treasures, not to their toy box, but to their hearts....... inside out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Making Friends and Cookies

We had over new friends today. The Millard girls (Beth, Molly, and Emi) joined us in making Christmas cookies. I met Beth at a homeschool cookout. She exudes this gentleness and kindness that I really admire. We had that "We've got to get together" exchange several times but finally put something on the calendar. What a nice time we had with our little pastry chefs.
Look at these darling bath salts Molly and Emi made for my girls. Aren't they precious! Madison ran off to the bath the moment they left!
These girls are so sweet. It is so fun to meet a family that you enjoy. One funny part of the afternoon came when we realized that we had met Beth and Molly over a year ago when they attended another church and we had visited! I also enjoyed listening to Madi and Molly talking about tornadoes.
It was such a pleasant afternoon - except for the part where, Tyson, extremely full of cookie dough, jumped on my bed until he threw up. Other than that, making friends with the Millards really makes me smile. We weird, unsocialized homeschool families need to stick together. :)

Mommy's little helper

Every day a different child is my "helper." The helper has extra things they have to do, like sweep after meals and go get me a diaper when I need one. They are my "go to" child for help so that I am not always asking Madison (who is my true blue "go to" girl). The helper also gets to go with me if I have an errand to run (treat!) and they get to stay up an extra 20 minutes and play a computer game. It has been a very helpful system and the children love for it to be their helper day. Today, Cole is the helper but Piper beat him to the broom after lunch! After I finished recording this video I went to upload it and watched Pip carry the broom through the house, through my bedroom and into my bathroom! Once there she quickly became distracted by all the treasures under the sink. Oh well... I'll keep training her - got to make those little hands earn their keep. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Catch up...

OK, since I didn't wait till the new year to start my blog, I feel like I want to catch up on some of the recent activity in Woodard world. There's been so much going on. Here's a little snippet...

Jason's parents came to visit in mid November. We hadn't seen them in over 2 years. We had such a nice time. Madison learned Grandma's chocolate peanut butter pie recipe. It was especially great that they were able to see Madison, Carson, and Ally in their drama class production of "Annie"

Here's our little peach as the unfortunate and mistreated orphan, Molly. She was so cute.

Carson was hilarious as the scoundrel, Rooster. Here is singing "Easy Street" with Miss Hannigan and his accomplice, Lily.

Madison was AMAZING as Daddy Warbucks assistant, Grace Ferrel. I could not believe how natural she was to have such a big part in her first ever play (outside the living room ,that is).

They had been taking drama classes all semester with Marcell Livesay Hamilton, a tremendous, generous, and talented woman from our church. She gave up her time of teaching at the University to teach a small group of homeschoolers. Isn't that awesome? I really didn't want to add anything to our schedule since we are doing a co-op for the first time this year but Jason and I had noticed real interest and talent in our oldest three and had begun to pray about an outlet for this dramatic ability. We have been so happy with the experience. They are doing it again next semester. Next up... Charlotte's Web!

Moving right along... we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family in town. My mom did popcorn ball crafts with the kids, my dad made his famous (and delicious) pancakes. Jack and David took Jason, Joby, and I out for an awesome dinner at Nona's. The best came the Saturday after Thanksgiving when Madison made her public profession and faith through baptism! More on that in a future post.

During all of this the kids are being taken to a million rehearsals for the Christmas production (ok - maybe not a million, but it felt that way to me at times). Each of the 3 oldest scored actual parts. Once again, I was so proud of them - they have such confidence when they are acting.

December 10, 11, and 12 were the performance dates for "All Wrapped Up." I could post a million pictures of the kids (ok - maybe not a million - but it kinda feels that way) but I will stick with just this one of the opening number. The very best thing about this production is that it truly moved the heart of my son, Carson, who has been diligently pursuing us about following Christ.

So, there you have it. A brief wrap up of the last month... and that's just the big stuff. Each day has it's own blog worthy activities and observations - I just didn't start this thing soon enough. Through all the hustle I have been so proud of my very handsome husband who has faithfully led us in family worship each night before bed. Some days I feel so exhausted I can barely stand it and yet, I see my children learning and growing in the things that truly matter. I am so thankful to the Lord for His abundant mercy.

Entry way ice skating

Somewhere, rooted in my pride no doubt, I had anticipated a blog might show off the best parts of my family. I'm the one in charge of what goes on here, right? SO I had certainly envisioned snippets from our LATIN LESSONS (said with a snooty British accent) or the latest MINISTRY PROJECT the kids were working on. How admirable, right?

And yet, my first entry today of what is going on in our house that I just love is my kids "ice skating" in the entry way. Nana was just here and after assessing the sock situation bought all the kids several pairs of new socks. This delighted them (I know, so easy to please) and this morning they have discovered how well their new socks slip on our entry way floor (probably because it is just so clean, right?!). So they have been skating for some time, giggling with glee, and setting up sliding distance competitions.

SO, stay tuned for future "impressive" entries - for now it's just a typical day at the Woodards. I have the greatest kids in the world (and I haven't even started talking about my wonderful husband!).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Faces

We finally have some really cold weather in OKC. I hate the runny noses (so much wiping! 7 little noses!) but I love the pink cheeks!

Colds are so funny. We can try to prevent them but there's not much we can do once we have one. The body basically works it out on its own. It actually seems that many physical afflictions work themselves out without any conscious assistance from us. Doctors are wonderful, but often merely assist the body's own work of self-healing.

So isn't it interesting that we give so much attention to the body and what ails it (when it generally "heals itself") and yet give so little attention to the ailments of the soul (which are not self-repairing).

Pretzels and Peanuts

I like to think we do fun stuff all the time in this house - but everything seems especially fun and special at Christmas. We bought these cute little espresso cups to have holiday hot chocolate and eggnog. And I just couldn't resist the holiday themed chocolate covered pretzels.

And though we put so much effort into making the holiday all about Jesus, there is just something so "in the spirit of Christmas" about the Charlie Brown Christmas specials. Can't that music just take you back to your own childhood?! Remember before dvd players and tivos and a hundred cable channels when a children's program coming on in prime time was something really special?? We enjoyed some Charlie Brown (on the tivo!) last night.

Here we go...

I've been wanting to start a blog for some time now. I've even been going through my days recently viewing things as blog entries! I have always been terrible at keeping a journal but for some reason I think maintaining a blog will be different for me. I was planning on waiting until January to start but today I though "Why wait?" Christmas is filled with so many things we want to remember. So... here we go!