Tapestry’s 12th birthday – Lake Somerville, TX…

When we visit back home, Brenham, TX, we almost always stay at Lake Somerville. We can’t get over starting and ending each day with this view.

Tapestry turned 12 today, and we had a great day celebrating her!

She chose what she wanted for breakfast.

We read her what we each wrote to her in her journal, and she opened gifts.

Something Tapestry has really missed since we started RVing is playing a drum set rather than a djembe. We gave her an electric drum pad today, and she is so excited about it.

Bravely is really excited about it as well.

We spent the rest of the morning making bracelets, which we all thought was fun.

We watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this afternoon. Most of our older kids have read the book, but they had not seen the movie. They loved it.

Tapestry requested we pick up Mexican food for dinner, so we did. She enjoyed her cheese enchilada meal.

Then we finished out the day with s’mores, wading in the water and watching the sun go down on the lake.

It was a full but relaxed day celebrating our girl!

Happy 12th birthday, Tapestry Noel! You are growing up and becoming a young woman! You are a great daughter, sister and friend. You are fun to be with, and I really enjoy having conversations with you. I love that you think deep and that you like to talk about your feelings. You aren’t afraid to ask questions or admit when you are worried or concerned about something. I think it is really awesome that you are so aware of your own thoughts and feelings, and that you care enough to sort through difficult things. You are learning to find peace in the midst of worry, which is so important for now and years to come. You care deeply about God, and you love spending time reading and talking to Him. You care well for others. It’s important to you to work through conflict and to have good relationships. You find joy in teaching your little sisters and caring for and cuddling Bravely. You love hanging out and chatting with Cherish and Liberty. You like playing games and hanging out with Manning and Rhythm. You are a great musician, artist and creative writer and story-teller. I think it’s super cool that you are a drummer. You are dedicated, structured and organized. You prioritize your time well, and you like to make the most out of each day. I truly enjoy being your mom, and I am excited for the days, months and years ahead that I’ll have with you! I am so happy with you, and I just love who you are! I couldn’t ask for a better oldest daughter. I love you so very much, forever and always! 💖

Back in the RV for Treasure’s 5th birthday…

We spent the past seven weeks with Lolli and Pop while quarantined. We enjoyed spending time with them. Many games were played, books read, meals cooked, songs sung, bikes rode and masks sewed. It was sad to say goodbye, but exciting to head back out with our home on wheels yesterday.

We are now back close to our hometown for a couple weeks, staying at our favorite spot on Lake Somerville in Texas. Then we plan to head north for the summer.

Today, we celebrated Treasure’s 5th birthday.

She had a donut stack with candles for breakfast.

We read her what we had each written her in her journal, and she opened gifts.

We went for a walk around the lake.

Then the rain started pouring down just after some friends arrived. We had planned to grill hot dogs and roast marshmallows for s’mores. We improved by picking up pizza and microwaving s’mores.

All-in-all, it was a great day!

Happy 5th birthday, Treasure Bliss!

Girl, you are just so much fun! You have so much energy, zeal and spunk. You have a motivation and a determination in you that causes you to accomplish most anything you set out to do. Because you were determined, you learned to ride a bike without training wheels far earlier than any of your older siblings. You love to climb high, ride fast and choose the most adventurous option. I often find myself saying, “Oooh Treasure, that’s awesome but please be careful!” You play hard from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. You very rarely sit still. You have a vibrant loud voice. You have a blast playing with your brothers and sisters. You enjoy playing most anything – outside or inside. You love playing games and are really good at understanding many games at your age. You most always have a smile on your face and laughter coming from your mouth. You live for fun, and you spread that fun everywhere you are. Lolli says you are a little Kristin, a lot like your momma. I sure do love you, and I am so happy I get to be your mommy! You are an awesome, one-of-a-kind daughter who brings a big smile to my face every single day! 💗☀️

Through and through, I love being a mom…

There is something really great that’s happened over the years. Being openly real, vulnerable and honest has become popular. None of us like fake, and we all appreciate real.

In my opinion, though, at times we overly project our flaws, failures, dislikes, pet-peeves, imperfections of ourselves, our family members and our relationships in an attempt to be real. It is almost a sin to say or believed a lie if a woman says she is happy in her marriage, adores her kids or enjoys something that many people do not.

I think being vulnerable about my weaknesses and allowing people to see and know me in a deep and more whole way is important. I, also, believe the best relationships are created through vulnerability. AND I believe it is ok to love certain aspects of life and to share those parts as well. If I only share my flaws, frustrations and fears, I am not sharing a large part of myself.

All that to say…I LOVE being a mom! Specifically a mom to Manning, Rhythm, Tapestry, Cherish, Liberty, Jubilee, Mercy, Treasure, River and Bravely. I smile and laugh so many times a day being surrounded by all these unique, precious and fun personalities in each of our kids. I, also, cry, get angry, feel inadequate, don’t know how to handle certain situations, and often question if I am making the best choice. Our kids sometimes have negative attitudes, have fears, and have issues along the way that we do our best to work through. Also, our kids are fun, smart, cute, funny, creative and precious. We have great conversations. We play a lot of games. We all enjoy music. We like going on walks. We all love new adventures. We bicker, we laugh, we cry, we love.

I could have never dreamed of having the life I have. When I say that, I don’t mean it’s a fairy-tale. I have lived through so many hard times, seasons and moments. Everyday something is difficult. Nothing goes as planned ever (EVER) in a family of twelve, but we have to plan or absolutely nothing would ever get accomplished. I used to dissect myself to death. I picked apart my every flaw and perceived failure. I loved my kids with all my heart, but I did not feel like a good mom. I was too imperfect and I couldn’t keep my kids always happy and at peace. I still struggle, more mildly, with these thoughts and feelings, and I cannot honestly say that I believe I am a good mom or a bad mom. But, ultimately, I have come to accept that regardless of good or bad, I am a mom who loves my children more than I could possibly express. I genuinely enjoy them. I truly see each one as utterly precious. I would do most anything to show my kids love. Sometimes that is a spoken, “I love you so much.” Sometimes it’s a “no” or discipline, which is hard but coming from so much love. Sometimes it’s a conversation, just listening, a walk, a game played, a life-lesson taught, a prayer, an encouraging or validating word or a big-ole hug.

I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a Jesus-lover. I like to work and bring in money in some way even though my husband is happy to fully provide. I enjoy design, organization and restoring old things to new. I like talking, writing and expressing myself deeply and vulnerably. I love offering hope to the hopeless, being a friend to the friendless and noticing the unnoticed. I am also a mom. Of all that I am and all that I do, truly being a mom is one of the absolute greatest joys of my life. And it is one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever been given.

I am sensitive in knowing that Mother’s Day is not happy, easy or good for everyone or in all seasons. It’s a hard day for those who’ve lost a mom or a child. It’s devastating for those who’ve wanted to become a mom so badly, and it hasn’t happened. It’s difficult for those who have strained relationships with their mom or child. It is painful for those with a mom who has never been there, whether physically or emotionally. It’s gutting for those who’ve been neglected or abused by a mom. It’s sad and even heartbreaking for moms who feel they’ve failed their child or children. If any of these are you, I pray you know that you are loved today. That there is hope for today and for the future. There is possibility of and hope for restored relationships, even in the most broken or damaged ones. And there is light in the darkness.

And there are moms who never thought they’d get to be a mom, but it happened. There are people who didn’t think they’d have another year with their mom or their child, but they did. There are those who have restored relationships. Those who do have kids, and who are just really thankful for them. If that’s you, today is a good day. Soak it up, know you, too, are loved, and be blessed with a very happy Mother’s Day.