Sunday, May 27, 2012

Branson vacation...where else?

We went to Branson this last week (I know, shocking right?)  My kiddos get just as excited as their daddy about going to the big "B."  So I now live with 3 Branson monsters...Lord, help me!

Hayden and Deacon all smiles as we enter Branson city limits

The first day we arrived around lunch time so we decided to go and feast at Cracker Barrel.
Deacon loves a good pancake

Hayden and I both love the chicken and dumplings
After lunch we drove down to my favorite place in Branson...Branson Landing.  I love it here.  While my husband comes to Branson for Silver Dollar City, I come to Branson to shop!  The kids also like Branson Landing because of the water fountains, play ground, Build-a-Bear, and "the fish store" (Bass Pro).
I'm pretty sure one day one of them, probably Hayden, will fall into the fountain.  Then we will be "that family."
Hayden is definitely my daughter when it comes to shopping.  In the picture below she was already wearing her new purchases from the previous store.

Claire's is probably her favorite store.  She finally settled on buying some fake neon-colored hair extensions.  Who wouldn't?
Hayden shopping at Claires

Deacon also wearing his new purchase that he picked out...a  Mater hat from the hat store.
After a few hours of shopping and dinner we took the kids to the go-cart track and bumper boats (dumper boats as Deacon calls them.)  I would have more pictures, but I was happily participating in the fun.

It was a blast.  My kids laughed the entire time.  My heart is filled to the brim with joy watching my kids have fun.
posing in front of the go-cart track

My husband loves Silver Dollar City.  Actually, I'm pretty sure "love" isn't a strong enough word...

Anyhow, we went on Wednesday morning.  It was perfect.  There weren't many people at the park, so we didn't have to wait in any lines.  The weather was even great--no sweating!  

As season pass holders, we have so many pictures like this.  You could seriously chart my children's growth with them all.

Somehow, Kerry talked Hayden into riding the giant Barn Swing with him.  She actually did very well!  She got a little nauseous toward the end, but luckily it was a pretty quick ride.  I was proud of her; there is no way I will ever ride that thing!
Hayden strapping in for her biggest ride to date!

I have to admit I was freaking out on the inside!

Deacon's favorite ride, "the frogs."

Later that night Hayden went with Mimi and Bear for some more shopping.  So Kerry, Deacon, and I headed to Landry's Seafood House for our one "splurge" meal.  I wanted to photograph our meal, but I was too embarrassed because we were in the middle of the restaurant, and I didn't want to be the weirdo photographing her food.  Anyhow, I had the stuffed shrimp and it was incredible.  Deacon got a corndog, naturally.

A few months ago I messaged a friend that lives in Branson to ask her if there were any decent beaches on Table Rock Lake.  She said "yes" and told me about Moonshine Beach.  Don't let the name deceive you.  It was a nice little beach.  There was sand, which Hayden has been dying to have, and the water was nice and clean (and freezing).  There was also a volleyball court, concession stand, umbrella rentals, and a nice playground.

Kerry likes to make our kids laugh and freak out the other beach visitors...
I love this :)
Isn't she adorable?

Bear taking a little nap on the beach

This pretty much sums up Deacon

Mimi helping Hayden collect "sea" shells

A few years ago our friends Steve and Sandy came back from Branson telling us how we must go see the show SIX.  Well, we finally got around to seeing it this time.  We loved it!  It really was a good show.  I'm usually pretty picky about watching shows in Branson, but I would love to see this one again.  It's six brothers and they do all the music and singing with just their own voices.  You would never know there isn't music playing.  They were also pretty funny.
The kids waiting outside the SIX theater.  Yes, Deacon is wearing boots with shorts.

Hayden bought a poster and couldn't wait to get it autographed.  We waited around after the show so she could get her autographs and her picture made with the group.

Hayden wanted to get her picture with SIX.  The usher insisted I get in the picture too.  I felt like a  Branson groupie. 

Deacon made it half-way through the show and then passed out.  It started right around his bed time.  He has yet to make it through any show in Branson.

So we NEVER have to wake up Deacon in the morning.  He is always raring to go at 7:00.  This particular morning they were both so exhausted.  We had to wake them both up to start our last day of vacation.
The kids the morning after our longest Branson day. 
I love my family and the memories we make on our vacations.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Deacon's Toy Story Party!

We celebrated the Deacon Monster's 3rd birthday this last weekend. 
Ever since his big sister's birthday party back in January Deacon has been dying to have his birthday party.  He has informed me every single day--since January--that he wanted a Toy Story birthday cake.  So I did my best to honor his wish by throwing him a Toy Story birthday party.  
We had his birthday at the campground (perfect venue, so much room for kids to run, run, and run), so his Daddy displayed it on the entry-way sign.  Deacon can't read yet, but he does recognize his name so he was very excited to see it on the sign.

We just happened to have this huge cardboard rocket laying around in storage at the campground.  So Hayden and I got out some spray paint and did our best to make it look like something Buzz would be proud to fly in.

I so wish I had gotten a better picture of this.  We used some square hay bales left over from the previous summer to decorate with. Big sis Hayden helped me arrange our toys.

Woody is Deacon's favorite Toy Story character. So, the goody bags were made to reflect him.  

Hayden and her Papa playing air hockey.  This was pretty funny to watch.  Papa doesn't ease up or let you matter how young or old you might be.


Aunt Anna brought some wonderful chocolate fondue, a big yummy hit. 

Here are some of our friends at the kid's table.  I forgot to take pics of the other tables :P

Deacon with his Toy Story cupcake tower.  This was his first year to blow the candles out without spitting on the cake.  Big sis helped me decorate the cupcakes.

I found a website that had a huge variety of Toy Story coloring pages so I printed them off for the kid table.  Big sis is meticulously coloring a picture of Jessie.

Deacon instructs Granny on how his picture should be her.  

I borrowed a cowboy boot from my dad and bought a rubber snake from the Dollar Tree so the kids could toss the snake into the boot.  This turned out to be much more difficult than it looked, but it made for a cute game none the less.

This was by far my favorite thing.  A giant size Mr. Potato Head!  Deacon was super excited about this.  All his parts were velcroed on, and there were more in the bucket so you could actually play with him.

Aunt Tori and Uncle Blake bought and filled (and I mean FILLED) this Toy Story pinata.  

Deacon taking his turn.  Also, this pinata was crazy, ridiculously strong!  We eventually had to "help" the kids a bit and cut a hole so it would bust!  But when it did, oh wow, did the candy flow!

Deacon was super blessed and received lots of great presents from his family and friends.  We were so happy to share the day with them all!

Love this kid :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy Mother's Day Mom!!

Since it is Mother's Day this weekend I thought it would be nice to dedicate a blog entry to my Mama.  I have composed a list of things I love about her.

I love my Mom because...
  • She loved me first
  • She loves her children with her whole heart
  • She is an amazing granny, and my kids adore her
  • From the time I was little and even now she has taken me on "mother & daughter dates"
  • She taught me how to respect my husband (long before I met him)
  • She loves yard sales as much as I do
  • When I need comfort she is the best
  • She is the most dependable person I know
  • She devotes the majority of her time taking care of my Granny and is happy to do it
  • She loves the Lord
  • She loves children and serves God by serving and teaching them
  • She is an excellent cook
  • She still calls me to make sure I'm watching the weather when it's severe
  • Even though she didn't get to go to college she made sure I did
  • She loved Kerry and knew I would marry him before I did
  • She has always supported Kerry's decision to go into the ministry
  • She prays for me
  • She has always loved and hugged on me
  • She knows how to text message--finally!!
  • Anytime I need her, day or night, she is there
  • She loves to go to women's conferences and retreats with me
  • She makes by far the BEST coconut creme pie
  • She cried with tears of joy both times I told her I was pregnant
  • Even though we were always on a tight budget growing up, she saved and saved so we could go on some great vacations
  • She taught me how to live on a tight budget
  • She loved being a stay-at-home mom
  • She survived my teen years
  • She has a distinct southern "twang"
  • She does crafts with my kids (something I do not enjoy doing!)
  • She gets very excited about food network reality shows
  • She is simply the best
This is a short list.  I could go on forever.  

I love you Mom!!!  Happy Mother's Day!!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Helper Becomes the Helpee

My heart's desire and passion in life is to serve God by helping and loving people.  I am flattered and honored whenever someone trusts me enough to come to me for counsel. I am humbled when I feel God laying someone on my heart to reach out to.  I have always preached the importance of sharing your struggles with other believers.  It breaks my heart to watch people alone in their pain.  We were never meant to go through our suffering alone.


Guess who has a hard time admitting when they need help?  Guess who hates to admit when they are struggling?  Yep, this girl.  

I'm like a strong-willed child:  "I can do it by myself!"

Oh, I'll ask you to pray for me, and I'll tell you the situation, but I rarely ask for help, wisdom, advice, etc.  I'm supposed to be the strong one, right?  I help others so I should be able to figure out a solution for myself.  I don't have the luxury of being weak, I have people to help.  If I need help then won't those I've helped think less of me?  I'm supposed to be an example.  I'm the helper, the helper doesn't need help. I need to figure this one out with just me and God, and be tough.

Problem with all that is life is harsh at times, and it will catch up with you.  (Not to mention how hypocritical it was.)

Over the last few weeks I've just been in a pit.  I have felt slammed by life. Several different trials all hit me at once, and combined they leveled me.  I have felt hopeless, tired, and depressed.  Satan saw an opportunity to sneak in and got right to work.  He filled my head with lies and I believed them.  

"You shouldn't be depressed, you are supposed to be strong."
"It's your fault for not working hard enough."
"You need to keep this pathetic weakness to yourself."
"You cannot ask for help; you might lose your credibility and people will see you not having it all together."
"You will just burden people if you share your struggles, they are too busy."
"Keep this hurting pain to yourself, grieve alone, don't be selfish by talking about it."

I was in the bottom of this pit with what felt like no way out.

Praise God, I finally became so overwhelmed that I knew I needed help.  I reached out to a wonderful friend and mentor.  I was hesitant about calling her, but I knew God put her in my mind for this reason.  I poured out every bit of my heart and told her how I was drowning.  She then lovingly walked me through every bit of it and imparted wisdom given to her by our God.  She spoke truth into my life that I was lacking and desperately needing.  She cared, counseled, and prayed for me. 

I hadn't realized how Satan had crept in and set up camp.  He fed my weakness and filled my head with lie after lie.  I kept eating them all up and he kept on feeding and feeding.  Even though this is prideful and embarrassing to admit, I was shocked to see how sneaky he really can be.  I was shocked he could creep right in without my knowledge.

I'm not a special exception.  I need help just like everyone else. 

But oh my goodness! What a burden lifted when I asked for help.  My dear friend now knows I need accountability in this area and will hold me to it.  This prideful heart of mine needed to break, yet again.  I needed to cry out for help, to admit I was drowning.  

It's okay to be weak.

Share each other’s burdens.  Galations 6:2

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.  Proverbs 27:17

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10