Catching up.

Well, hello there! It’s been awhile. 🙂

Christmas and New Year’s was quiet around here, and it was beautiful. Our little family of 7 enjoyed some time off work and school and enjoyed the mild weather over our first winter in Florida. The weather has been just wonderful! Most days are mild and sunny, and the evenings cool enough so that it feels cozy and warm to slip on a hoodie sweatshirt. It’s just perfect for us. Although it’s a tad cooler now, this picture was taken 2 days before Christmas:

2 days before christmas 2014

 

We’ve enjoyed some visitors over the last couple months. My brother, Tim, and his wife and boys were here in December. We had a wonderful, low-key visit with them . . . soaking up some sun and catching up on each other’s lives. We sat on the beach and visited Ron Jon Surf Shop. We ate well, laughed a lot, and loved our time together.

cole and trevor dec2014 jake and timmy dec2014

 

(Trevor and Cole)                                 (Timmy and Jake)

beach soccer dec2014

 

In January, we had my sister-in-law, Tracy, and her girls visit. It was a busy and fun-filled time, complete with a visit to SeaWorld and a drive out to the beautiful west coast. We all missed the one person we wished could also be here making memories with us. Steve is so greatly missed and thought of often. Kenny helped Jordan with the art of riding a bike while they were here. When he came inside with tears in his eyes, missing Steve, Tracy and I just about lost it. While Tracy and I drove with 6 kids out to Punta Gorda (beautiful, by the way!), we may or may not have cranked the music and danced and sang shamelessly to Shake if Off . . . and even the youngest in the suburban belted it out!

tracysvisitjan2015

 

seaworld with tracy 3 seaworld with tracy

 

About a week after they left, our dear friends from Maryland, the Rutley family, flew in to visit. With their 4 boys joining forces with our 5 kids, we parents were significantly outnumbered! But true to form, all the kids were respectful and kind and played together as great as they always have. We, again, hit up SeaWorld and had a blast. The highlight for most of us was our visit to Wekiva Springs and the Wekiwa River. (I’ll write more on that place in another post – it was awesome!) It’s so wonderful to experience how God knits hearts in such a way that even when miles separate us from dear friends, we pick right back up where we left off and enjoy such sweet fellowship.

rutleys visit jan2015

 

We’ve spent February catching up on some school and tasks around the house. Jake and Cole have been participating in a leadership class at River Run Church. They’re reading this book:

do hard things

 

They meet weekly and have homework to complete at home. They’ve taken a spiritual gift test and that’s been neat for them to see what their God-given strengths are. Cole said to me last week, “Mom, I really like this class!” So sweet. They both diligently get their work down, most of the time without any reminding.

We’ve passed around a short-lived but nasty stomach bug. Ugh. Never a good time. In fact, it’s Dean’s turn now as I sit and type this. Poor guy! We’re hanging out on the couch together while the others are out and about. But I love how I can open the front door in the morning and leave it that way all day, with a gentle breeze and sunshine coming through the screen door. This was my view a couple afternoons ago:

 

view from my screen door jan2015

 

Which reminds me, I joined Instagram recently. I posted that picture. Feel free to find me and follow me. It’s been fun! It allows me to post quick snippets of our lives, and share with a sweet community of friends and family, new and old.

That photo also reminds me: we’re making some changes to the front yard! I can’t wait to show you. We’ve had dirt brought in and the over-growth (palmettos everywhere!) cleared out. We’ll be planting some grass and waiting patiently for it to fill in nicely so we can romp around in our “new” front lawn! I’ll do my best keep you posted on the project. (No promises though; you know my track record!)

I think that’s enough information and pictures for one post! I hope this day finds you enjoying life and loving God.

–Beth 🙂

Advertisements

I’m thankful for . . . Part 2

**I’m going to take a little time to write a “featurette” about each of the kids this Thanksgiving season. Because, well – I’m thankful for them! And I love ‘em. How unique they are! We are blessed by them being a part of our family and we enjoy watching each unfold into the person God has created him or her to be, and we are grateful.** If you missed the first part about Jake, you can read it here.

Today we’re featuring our 2nd born son, Cole — This guy is laid back. But hyper. He’s quiet. Yet talkative. Contradictory? Not really. Cole *is* laid back, until you feed him sugar. Then he’s hyper. And he’s quiet, until he’s really warmed up to you and has something on his mind. Then he’s very talkative.

003

He’s also very busy. These days, you can find him tearing through his school work. Not because he loves it. No; he’s almost always got a project on his mind and knows that getting school done will then allow him to get his chores done which will free him up to getting on with the things in life that matter most to him. Hunting. Fishing. Exploring. Creating. Building. Trapping. Making smoke bombs and fireworks. He’s got numerous hobbies and interests. Like rabbit hunting. He skinned it, cooked it, and then ate it.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES rabbit fried dean and coles hunt

“Cole??!!” I call this morning. “Yes?” He answers from the dining room table where he’s tackling grammar. Or was it signing up online for the FL boater’s licensing course? Or –is it possible– both?? Yep, I told you he’s got numerous interests. 🙂

Cole is a great student. I enjoy teaching this kid. We learn similarly so it makes homeschooling him pretty simple. He’s focused and independent. He likes a list so he knows what’s required of him. He can sit down in the middle of a crowded room, with all sorts of noise happening, and get his work done.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I just love how great he is at entertaining younger kids. He has a knack for including them in what he’s doing. He’s playful and fun and little ones are drawn to him. He’s patient with them, including his younger siblings. Dean loves to tag along with Cole and join in on all the fun adventures that are sure to be had! But it might just be tinkering in the garage. And that’s ok, because with Cole around, of course it’ll be fun. At some point, there’ll be a ‘possum in the trap or a fish in the skillet, or knee-boarding behind a golf cart (don’t ask!).

november pool time 4

One of his latest endeavors is gardening. He began with saving pumpkin seeds to plant. Next thing I know, he’s got a garden plot in the back field. Of course that means a fence has got to go up — we have deer back there. No worries, he’s got that covered. He checks in with dad along the way, asking about using this board or that. “Who put these posts in?” I ask. (Silly question). “I did,” he answers. “What did you use?” (Another silly question.) “Those,” pointing to a digging bar and post-hole digger. He’s a man of few words when it comes to his work. The posts don’t wobble; I’m impressed, but shouldn’t be. It just surprises me that a 13 year old boy spends his free time building a fence for his garden. For fun! And to think I brought home a “surprise” for him from the hardware store: garden plants! Broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. How many kids would think that’s great??!

coles garden 7

He can work alongside Ken on a job site and keep up. He’s got a way of thinking ahead just enough to grab that tool when Ken needs it, or hustle to the trailer for a saw. He’s strong and hardworking. He’s determined and focused and yet still has creativity running wild in his brain . . . like his latest idea of raising pigs.

001

Cole has a refreshingly black and white outlook on life. And sometimes annoyingly so. You know, things are not always so cut and dry. So he’s got to learn to bend a little with the gray areas of life. And realize that technology isn’t all bad! He’s sassy and sarcastic, and is learning to reign in his tongue (which happens to be my struggle too — poor kid!!) However, we love his “off the cuff” style which shows he’s not overly concerned with what others think of him.

fishing with grandmom.coles big bass on sandhill lake

We’re so thankful for this young man — this boy who is filling out through the shoulders and arms. Which reminds me that he’ll not be a boy much longer. I want to hang on to him. Keep him right where he’s at. He’s fun. He’s energetic. He’s uncomplicated. He’s brave. He’s deep. But I don’t think those aspects will change. I think he’ll keep those traits long into adulthood. I pray he does. God’s got something special planned for this adventurous guy! And I can’t wait to see what it is.

wildmen capture crayfish in pool        SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

–Beth

P.S. To all family members: any thoughts on who he remind you of?? 😉

Rocking ‘Riss.

We love our front porch rockers. Nothing like sitting in them with a mug of coffee, the ceiling fan on and the local tree frogs serenading. Rain or shine, it’s a nice place to be.

I’ve mentioned it previously: even before we moved our bodies into our new home, my dad had picked some rocking chairs out of the trash at the end of a neighbor’s driveway. What a treasure! He not only hauled them over to our new porch, but he put in his own sweat and time to paint them!

I casually mentioned I like the idea of black chairs. He gently informed me he wanted white chairs. They were his, after all. They’re just on loan to us while he’s not here. When he visits, they’ll be his. But I’m sure he’ll share.

In the meantime, Riss is keeping them from “rusting up”. And she’d love it if Grandad were here, rocking right next to her!

rocking riss

–Beth 🙂

P.S. I fessed up to the neighbor that it was we who took the chairs. She said she figured someone would take them, which is why she put them out. She had intended to refinish them herself, but got overwhelmed by other projects so she decided to abandon the idea. I know the feeling!

Creative boy.

It starts like this: just a conversation over lunch. Of all things silly, simple, and innocent. Quite childish, but in a wonderful, refreshing way. Just 5 kids chatting about the life they lead — free of stress, financial responsibility, or relationship challenges.

Then the wheels start rolling in a boy’s head. A boy who knows no limits. A boy with a sharp mind and lots of creative genes coursing through his body. A boy who loves to build with his hands and wants a boat really bad.

And this is how it ends:

coles boat 1

coles boat 2

coles boat 4

coles boat 3

Oh, when all the fun was had, they had to clean the old fence panel particles out of the pool. 🙂

–Beth

New set of wheels.

Down here in the land of the tropics, where all things in nature grow quickly and in plenty, a good mower is a must! In our effort to be as transportable as possible, we decided to find a mower in Florida, rather than haul one down all the way from Maryland. Ken’s brother has been loaning his to us weekly since our arrival. He would graciously continue to do so, but this good deal popped up for sale right in our own neighborhood:

new mower

 

We drove by it for over a week before stopping. Ken kept thinking that it wasn’t a large enough mower deck. However, the urge to pull over took over and we stopped in a few days ago. Turns out, it’s everything Ken had been looking for (except an over-50-inch-cutting-deck). We reasoned that since the operators of said machine will for the most part be under 5 feet tall, it was quite a suitable size.

new mower colenew mower halia

 

new mower dean

 

new mower riss

 

So we’re the new proud owners of a mower. Don’t worry, only those trusted and shown approved will be cutting the grass. Maybe 1 or 2 of those pictured above. 🙂

–Beth

 

Ken’s office.

A top notch remodeling company is storming Winter Park, Florida. It’s so exciting! Ken and his business partner, Richard, are busy getting all the details in order for their their new residential remodeling company. One of those details was finding office space to rent, and they’ve secured a place! It’s really so quaint — here are some pictures.

View walking into office, which will be the “conference room”:

 

 

 

view walking in

 

View walking into adjoining room, which will be Ken’s private office:

view in ken's office

 

window view

(See that arched window?? Here’s the view from it, which will be a view from Ken’s desk):

direct view from desk

 

Back to the conference room . . . here are the views from those windows:

table view, view out main window

 

Can you see him eating his lunch at that table?? I’m so excited for him. He’s looking forward to getting settled in!

I get to help decorate this place . . . fun, huh??

We’ve already been busy getting it just right for the new company (and by “we”, I mean mostly Ken – although I have been helping to paint the last couple days).

I love Benjamin Moore paint colors. Ken loves Sherwin William’s actual paint base. Back in Maryland, we painted our whole remodeled house with Ben Moore colors *in* a Sherwin William’s base. It was a happy union. Down here, I bought a 5 gallon bucket of a color I *thought* I loved (I did on my MD walls) – turns out, it’s not loving being on the walls of a Florida home. I’m not loving it either. Ben, I’ll always love you and I’m sure we’ll be reunited someday, but for now I’ve been let down and I need some space. It’s time for me to explore other options.

So, we chose Sherwin William’s colors for the office. Since olive is one of the company logo colors, Ken wanted to do an accent wall in olive. I went along with it – it IS his office, after all. Considering my love of all things gray, I had to choose an olive with undertones of gray. Well, at least “gray” is in part of the name. Here’s the color of the accent wall, followed by the color of the other walls:

SW 6165 Connected Gray:

 

 

 

 

 

 

connected gray

 

SW 6162 Ancient Marble:

ancient marble

 

I like to choose colors from the same color strip (which is what we did here), so the undertones are the same. I have no idea if this is the way it’s supposed to be done, it’s just the way I like colors blending in my house, so it’s the way I decided to blend colors in the office. I hope the two rooms’ final look comes together the way I have it pictured in my head!

Oh, something fun to stay posted for – we found some cool “alligator leather” chairs for the conference room. I’ll share photos when the room all comes together! 🙂

–Beth

P.S. If you have a few extra minutes, take a look at the city of Winter Park: http://cityofwinterpark.org/. It’s really a beautiful city (town??). Well, whatever it’s called, it’s lovely.

P.P.S. I really don’t know why there are such large gaps between my text and photos, and since I’m new to blogging, I don’t know how to fix it. Sorry, it doesn’t look pretty, but at least it’s not cutting anything out!

Dean.

This guy just turned 7.

dean2dean 4dean

 

Yikes! I can’t believe my baby is that old! And it’s been never a dull moment since he came into the world. He’s keeping us smiling (the things that come out of his mouth!), dancing (he likes to come up with “new moves”), laughing (the expressions he can make!) and sleeping well at night, in order to re-coup and keep up with him the next day.

He had a mishap around the pool last weekend so we got ourleselves an introduction to the local children’s hospital near to our new home. He ended up with 7 stitches but received so much attention from the family I don’t think he minded the whole ordeal! When I mentioned putting a healing oil onto his wound to help reduce scarring, he told me, “No, I want a scar. Scars make you look tough.” Since that fateful night of stitches–with siblings and parents, an aunt, an uncle and cousins fawning all over him about it–he’s run into opportunity for a few other more minor injuries as well. If I didn’t know how much it is annoying him due to the hindrance of swimming time, I would think he was purposeful about it!

I tucked him into bed last night, his foot wrapped with medical tape, a Band-aid on his thumb and a rather large scar on his left shin, fresh-free of stitches. I thought to myself, “Man, he looks tough!” 😉

–Beth

dean driving golf cart 3  dean driving golfcartdean driving golf cart 2