Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Let's Do the Time Warp Again! Sunny Days and Christmas Morning

Winters in the midwest seem to drag on forever. They are long and cold and sometimes brutal, and half of the time we don't even get the nice fluffy white stuff to enjoy that makes it worth it for a day or two. Most of the time it's just ICE or SLUSH or cold cold rain. In other words, it's not even worth trying to get out a lot. Winter here means that "Do you wanna build a snowman?" sounds a lot more like "Do you wanna break a hip bone?" or "Would you like to catch pneumonia?" ;)  I know some of you weirdos like winter, and I'm thankful for you. You keep our economy moving, haha.

For the rest of us, praise the Lord that we're often granted a little reprieve from all of the yuck this time of the year. I only know and remember that because of this blog. It seems that every year around this time there's a post about us getting out for a walk or an unexpected day at the park or something. Our reprieve came on Saturday this year. Hallelujah!

The ground was wet, but we spread out our favorite blanket anyway and let Lincoln take his first ride on the magic carpet. Lots of memories on this beauty. Lincoln, meet magic carpet - carpet, meet Lincoln. You're going to have a beautiful relationship this year.

There was frisbee throwing and sidewalk chalking. Lots of running around. Later, grandma Joan came up for a visit and the kids got to take a trip to the playground. They got lots of fresh air this weekend! Now half of them have coughs again, but...worth it. Haha.

The afternoon sun was beginning to set, and the kids were playing under the deck. They practically set themselves up for some of our first outdoor pictures of the year. They are well trained. :)

My poor scraggly son got a haircut a few hours after this. :D 

Yes, this day was like a shot in the arm with sunshine - just what the doctor ordered! Now to completely switch gears on you, we're going to do some of that time warping I was talking about last week. From sunny days that almost feel like spring to Christmas morning! I was finally able to put together a little vlog of our Christmas Day 2016. 

It's such a sweet time. And our kids are at a sweet age. These are the years we will remember forever. These are the moments we will always hold in our hearts. If you can stand it, here's one more dose of Christmas cheer, Robert style.

One of our best Christmas mornings yet. :)

You all continue to be such a source of joy to this family! Your encouragement is phenomenal. I have the very best kind of people in my life. On Friday evening we were blessed when a friend sent us dinner, because she knows sometimes stressed out moms just need a little break! Stefanie and I haven't seen each other since college, but through the wonder of the internet meals can be sent even from miles and miles away!

Stefanie blogs too, and you can check out her writing right here!

Thanks again, girl! 

And thanks to all of you for stopping by today! My hope and prayer is that 2017 is our family's BEST year yet. I've been praying the same for so many of you, too. Let me know how that's going occasionally. :) Moving onward and upward! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Christmas 2016 Rewind!

Everything about the life I loved and held so dear was swirling around me in confusion and chaos. My whole world had been turned on it's head. But it was Christmas...and it was time to slap on a smile and make it a good one for the kids. It was hard, but I did it. :) And I think they had a really good one!

When we moved there were a lot of questions as to how exactly we were going to work out all of the holidays. No longer are we a two minute drive from all of our closest relatives! Since Eric typically works on Christmas Eve, it was decided that it would be easier to have the kids and me go to Red Bud a day early so that we were already there for Christmas. We could get ready in the morning and not be so rushed around...because getting five kids ready to go somewhere is a big task! Add in hauling all of our gifts and things, and it's a monumental undertaking. So...we had a sleepover at grandma's!

Pretty sure this is the kind of thing kids remember forever. :)

When we opened our eyes it was Christmas Eve! We all got ready to go to our first party of the day at great Grandma Robert's house, which just happens to be right across the street. Dang our lives were so convenient! 

Grandma had many of great Grandpa's shirts made into teddy bears, and everyone would get to pick their own. Of course the kids had all eyed their favorites! They couldn't wait until it was their turn to choose. We came home with seven different bears, and Grandma, the kids are loving them especially!

Everyone adores the mirrors in the bathroom at grandma's house, haha. I frequently catch the kids in here making faces at themselves. This would be one of the only pictures taken of me all day, so you get a Christmas bathroom selfie, for your viewing pleasure.

It's a little bit of a Christmas miracle to have all of the family gathered in one place for the same holiday anymore. We are scattered over the country, and often the years don't meet up for everyone and we have some here and some there. But this year, the whole gang was here!

The kids love when ALL of the cousins can get together. :) There were no children at all seven years ago!

Soon it was the mass chaos of playing and present opening that we've shared here year after year. 

Gracie ended up with one of grandpa's Hawaiian shirt teddy bears. :) 

Happy first Christmas, buddy!

It was time to go back to my mom's house where the Linnertz family Christmas was this year. Christmas Eve here means one giant pizza party!

I wish I had better pictures to prove it, but there are a ton of people in our family and there were pizzas everywhere. Pizzas on the island, pizzas on the counters, pizzas on the stove. You know those opening scenes of Home Alone where there are people running around and kids buzzing like bees and everyone is stuffing their faces with pizza? That's us. Every year.

Eventually it was time to pack it in and make our trek home. We had sugarplums to start dreaming about and stuff to do!

Each of the kids had special gift requests this year. Reagan wanted a helicopter. Gracie wanted a lava lamp. Evie wanted a sled. The littlest ones still don't really know what's going on, but there were a few things for them, too. ;) They were super excited to wake up on Christmas morning!

There were some cool old school toys found in our stockings this year...

...the favorite of which was a Magic 8 Ball.

Of course, now I find myself uttering the words, "It's just a toy, kids" 389475938475 times a day.

"Mom! This says my name is not Evelyn!"
"Mom, this says I don't have a brother!"
"Mom, I'm supposed to get married tomorrow!"

It's just a toy, kids.

Our kiddos got everything they wanted, and yet it was our cleanest most minimal Christmas yet. FINALLY I think we have figured out a formula that works for our family. A couple of wanted toys, one or two practical things, and maybe some stuff thrown in for the whole family to enjoy together. No one had more than four things assigned just to them. And no one felt deprived for anything. It was perfect

Grace had to try out her new skates right away....

Everyone wanted a turn flying the helicopter....

Bathrobes and slippers were a hit!

Reagan LOVES wearing his robe and slippers around. He sleeps in them! Haha.

As usual, we couldn't stick around and play forever because there were more Christmases to attend that day. But I think we'll leave it here for now!

I'm not a good faker when it comes to my emotions. I can pretend to smile for a while, but it takes a toll eventually. These were the hardest holidays I have ever had. But I was granted a few happy distractions to help get me through it. Once again, God showed his grace and mercy to me, and I was still able to find moments of fun with my kids. I am now convinced that there are no stronger people in this world...none...than moms who have a million problems of their own but who still continue to give and give and give of themselves to others. Even when the world is crashing down. I have a new respect for women doing it all on their own. 

It's hard to feel all alone inside and still nurture. Hard. There are a lot of women walking around today who deserve Nobel Peace Prices and Academy Awards for the good work they do each and every day all while acting like everything is okay. Because our kids deserve okay. 

Christmas was okay. And I am okay. :) And I'm hopeful that some of my darkest days are behind me. Thank you all so much for your encouragement over the last couple of days. It's soul feeding. You are my favorite people. Love!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hello 2017! A New Me

We're back! For the next week or so we're going to be rewinding and fast-forwarding through time as we play catch up and try to bring everyone into our present. :)


Our kids keep growing and are becoming even more jack-o-lanterned!

The Robert family has had a rough couple of months. I don't typically drop everything and stop checking in unless things are pretty bad...and they've been pretty bad. I don't really feel like I'm in a place right now to share everything that has been going on, but after a lot of prayer and many hard days we are trying our very best to work through some things and heal. I have a very special handful of people who have been a great source of encouragement to me over the past few weeks...you know who you are, and I'm so thankful for you!

I know being vague sucks. I don't make a habit of sharing details of deeply personal things that affect more people than just myself in this space. I just hope you all know and realize that we are as imperfect and we struggle as much as the next person and like all families do. For everyone who has asked me, "How do you do it?" "How are your kids so well behaved??" my answers are...I don't, and they aren't. Haha. It is quite literally the grace of God that gets me through each and every day.

The Adrien of just a few months ago is not the same person who is writing here today. Trials in this life are meant to refine us and redefine us. Sometimes God throws something huge in your path to stop you right where you are and force you to take a new direction. Like it or not. Because most of us certainly don't ask for life-changing moments to come our way. Most of us like comfortable, happy life just fine. You would have been hard pressed to find someone happier or more comfortable with life than I was.

Maybe too comfortable.

I was thrown a curveball that smacked me right between the eyes and knocked me out. What followed was a season of stumbling around as I was seeing stars and trying to recover from a major blow. I had nothing...no one...no source of strength to draw from during those moments that was strong enough to sustain me other than God himself. Truly, I spent many nights through the pain and tears just thanking God for the faith that I have, because it was the only thing pulling me through it. I asked over and over, "How does anyone else handle this? How does anyone in this world make it through without knowing they can come to you?"

I was granted a peace through this time that kept me sane and whole. The "peace that surpasses all understanding." It is a very real thing that God grants to His children when they cry out to him, I can tell you from experience. For no reason at all other than the fact that I serve a merciful God, I made it through knowing everything would be okay in the end because "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

I am not in control of anything or anyone on this earth other than myself. I cannot change anything in my own power or on my own doing other than my frame of mind and how I choose to react to what is thrown my way. In times of struggle, we can flee or we can fight. In the past, I have been known to retreat...to hide...to not share my problems or even pray about them because I want to deny them or just hope that they go away. But not this time. I was and am MAD at the evil that exists in this world that seeks to do us harm. I put on the full armor of God, prayed day and night without ceasing, stayed close the Word and read every book and every article and every scripture I could...I bathed myself in the teachings of Christ. And it sustained me.

And then I put my big girl pants on and started making some changes. In my attitude...in my daily routine...in pretty much everything. I came into this world and will leave it as an autonomous person who will be judged and responsible for me and me alone. So I am making changes for ME, to the Glory of God. :) And that's why I'm here. I am crawling out of the bunker and resuming life, because life goes on. And I will praise God for all of it, without apology.

If you are struggling with anything today...anything...I promise you there is no greater comforter and sustainer than the God I serve. I hope you know Him. And if you ever have any questions about that, now would be a great time to ask me, because I've never felt closer to Him. :) Not because of anything I've done, but because he sought me out. He might be waiting for you to come around, too, ya never know. Wouldn't it be great to be drawn to him today through a simple blog post and not a giant curveball that knocks you out? That would be called God's grace and mercy. Take it! From someone who has had to learn some things the hard way lately - take it while it is freely offered. Because if there is one thing I know for sure...the bad days will come. They are inevitable. A broken relationship...a health diagnosis...a great loss. When you least expect it. It will come. Where will you turn when it does?

Friends and family will let you down sometimes. Your career cannot fulfill you. Your stuff cannot be taken with you. Even your own mind wanders and doubts. There is only One who will never leave you and who always has your best interests at heart. He knows the future and can save us all from our own dang selves. I dare you to ask me how I know that for sure.

In an effort to get back to some semblance of normalcy...we're sharing a daily vlog today. A little of the "present" before we share a little bit of our past couple of months. In it you will see for yourself just how very imperfect we all are, haha. I don't have time to edit out all of life's bloopers, so you get it all. Enjoy. :D

I still don't have it all figured out, and I appreciate any and all prayers for our family. When I named this blog seven or eight years ago (whoa) I knew the title would remain applicable forever because, in case you hadn't figured it out yet, I ain't ever going to "get there" in this world. Haha. We are all in the constant process of learning and growing, and there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Over and out.


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