Friday, July 29, 2016


Our next stop on the great american adventure was Houston, Texas! America is great, despite the current presidential candidates. But we won't go into that because that's just depressing. What we will go into: humidity, good food, awesome gas stations, lots of swimming, and an awesome pair of in-laws. Jeff's mom was kind enough to pick this walking circus up from the airport, even though she had a migraine! Poor lady. Jane got to see her cousins Sam, Eliza, and Zoe for like, 3 seconds but the  next morning they left. Good thing they are moving to Belgium so we will hopefully get to see a wholeeee lot more of those cute kiddos and their awesome parents. 

The first day, Lindsay drove down and we went to the temple together while Colleen watched all (7!!) of the kids. It was so nice to go to the temple again. I've missed it. And I loved being able to chat with Lindsay. I could pick her brain all day because I have A LOT to learn from her. She is an intentional, and passionate mother who is never afraid to do hard things. 

The next day, we went to Cami's house while she went to find out the gender of her little growing babe. (BOY!! :) When they got back, we all packed up and headed to Lindsay's house. But not without a stop to the coolest gas station in existence. Texans have a tendency to brag about it's enormity and gloat that "everything's bigger in texas!" and, I have to say that their claims are correct when it comes to gas stations. Buccees blows any other gas station away!
 These cute girlies were holding hands, skipping, and giggling through the store.

We got to Lindsay's and it took about 3 seconds to jump into their pool. Their backyard is what dreams are made of.

 And watching these cousins play together was worth the trip in and of itself!
 This kid is just truly too cute to even handle.
 And same with Briggs. AHH! Those cute little boys make me excited to hopefully have a little boy one day.
 ^^ and watching these sisters play together make me excited for a few years down the road when my girls play together. (which I know it won't always go swimmingly (ha!) but excited nonetheless.)
 Grandma Andersen is so fun to get in the pool and play with the grandkids any chance she gets! And she is a bronze babe because of it.
 Most of the time, Jane was content to be in her own little world. Getting out, and jumping in by herself over, and over, and over.
 And this dog MUST BE DOCUMENTED as the first dog that has ever pushed me to even consider getting one of our own. (the answer, forever and always, will still be NO.) I'm heartless when it comes to animals, I'm afraid to admit. I have much more patience for children than for animals and prefer to only expend my energy on the former. They make me allergic, they lick me, they scare my kids, and I always walk away with hair all over my clothes. But this little Cato dog is an award winner, because he gracefully endured a mild form of torture for the whole time we were there, courtesy of Jane. He made my girls inexplicably happy, he didn't bark, shed, or make me allergic and I could almost kiss him for it. Almost.
 That night Lindsay made an absolutely delicious dinner! That's a lot of mouths to feed! She's 9 months pregnant with baby number 6, but that doesn't stop her from being a 5 star host.
 Just love this table of cute cousins eatin' dinner on the back porch. 
 Lindsay's sweet kids (seriously...I hope my kids are like hers one day) made this giant poster for sweet Lyla's birthday! And it was vibrantly displayed in the living room all day. As you can see, Lyla was over the moon about it.
 I made a cake, and we all sang happy birthday to this darling girl.
 What a perfectly captured Lyla face :) I think somewhere deep down, she knew what was coming and that it would be a sweet dip into the world of sugar. 
 Her grateful expression as everyone sang to her. ^^ I die over this picture. I just wanna kiss her face off! And whoops...I already do. On the daily. I'm a lucky momma.
 Here it goes. Her first dive into her very own piece of cake, and it did not disappoint.
And since this is a birthday post sandwiched between other fun texas activities, I'll take this moment to reflect on some of my favorite things about this darling little girl. My very favorite is that she knows how to make me happy. ie.: I pick her up, she smiles at me and then lays her head down on my shoulder, while grasping my arms like a little koala. She then lifts her head back up, only to deliberately lay it right back down. Repeat Lyla hugs are what I call them, and they are enough to transform any bad mood or sadness into joy. Her passion(!!) is something I love to witness, and I can't wait to see where she chooses to place her passion as she grows up. I love her. For anyone interested, I made her first year video here! Those things never fail to turn me into a blubbery mess, even though I'm the one who made them....

Her celebration couldn't have been more low-key, but I think she was as pleased as a 12 month baby girl could possibly be. She had cake. She had entertainment via 7 adorable cousins, and she had undivided attention for a good chunk of the day. That's her bliss.  
The next day, it took the stamina, strength, and patience of all the mothers in the house to keep the kids out of the pool until 10 am. It was a sweet reunion with the water when they gleefully jumped back in. Here is grandma and Brynlee teaching Jane the baby bumblebee song :)
 That afternoon, we ate lunch and then Lindsay whipped up these beautiful, delicious, and refreshing Lime Ricki's.

That afternoon, we headed back to Dean and Colleen's house. I am so grateful that Lindsay and Kenny let us come stay at their house for a day. It was so, so fun, and provided me with a glimpse of my best-case-scenario life later on down the road: kind, intelligent, hard working kids with parents who walk the walk, not just talk the talk. A family that is very obviously solid, united, and centered around Christ. Cami & Tyler are in the same boat, and were also gracious hosts on more than one occasion and I'm so glad we got to spend time with both of those amazing families. I just am always learning and observing because I have so much to glean from all of them.

And I do have to add in that Jeff's dad was gone with his church calling for most of the time we were there, but when he was home, he was very intentionally bonding with my girls. In fact, when we got back to Germany I asked Jane what her favorite part of the whole trip was, and her answer was: "playing games with grandpa!" (he patiently taught her how to play Trouble.) I have a full heart when I think about how we were the recipients of so much love and kindness during our time in Texas. So glad we got to go!

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