Mr. Big (Texas Spiny Lizard)

Nicholas loves to catch critters.  He is especially good at catching lizards and we have plenty of those around our house.  

We lots of Geckos and a few Anoles but every now and then we find a big Texas Spiny lizard.  

These are Nicholas' favorites.  He caught one a few years ago and named it "Mr. Big".  Now every time he sees one he calls it Mr. Big. 

He showed me how the lizard goes into a trance when it is turned on its back.  Sometimes lizards might feign death as a defense because their predator will likely only attack something that is alive.  However, I have also read that this behavior may be an involuntary response in the central nervous system.  Either way, Nicholas flipped him back over and he was fine and wiggly again.

We have several small reptile boxes in the backyard so the kids can contain what they catch to study it for a few hours but then they must be released back into the wild...or our backyard.

VBS Family Night

Vacation Bible School is always a highlight of summer for my kids, especially the Family Fun Night!  Our church sets up tons of bounce houses, obstacle courses, water slides, pony rides, a petting zoo, and yummy food!  As soon as we got there, Nicholas met up with some of his friends and they were off!  

Rachel was brave and tried this amazing giant ball.  She rolled it up and down the track while inside it!

She loved the petting zoo and went in it a few times through the night.  Such cute little baby animals!

She was brave and did a lot of rides and obstacle courses that she wouldn't have done last year.  I'm so proud of her.  And look how much fun she was having!

It was fun having Stuart hang out with us.  Usually he goes with Nicholas and I hang out with Rachel.  But this year Nicholas was kind of on his own with his little pack of friends so it was neat that Rachel and I got some fun time with Daddy.

What a fun night it was spending time having fun and hanging out with friends.  As the sun went down I couldn't help but snap a shot of the beautiful sunset over our church.

What an Amazing VBS!

My kids always love going to VBS in the summer.  They have fun with friends, play games, have yummy snacks all while learning about and worship our great God.  

But this year, Nicholas is too old to go to VBS.  I was devastated when I went to register him and it said Kindergarten through 5th grade.  He is entering 6th grade this year.  But as I looked around the website a little more I realized that in 6th grade he can volunteer at VBS!  Woo hoo!  Not only would he still get to be there for all the fun but he would actually be a part of sharing that love with younger kids.  Amazing!

For the week before VBS actually started, Nicholas went to church every day for about 4 hours at a time to help them turn the whole inside of the church into a magical place of wonder for "The Great Voyage" theme this year.

He worked on turning a hall into the inside of Jonah's whale.  See the back bone and rib cage?

Another hall was a boat on the ocean.  I love the waves made of blue vinyl tablecloths and the tops cut off of white plastic drinking cups.  So creative!

And how can you save money on decorative life saving rings?  Buy white stryofoam rings and paint red stripes on them!

Nicholas also got to make and custom decorate lots of paper fish to swim in the ocean.  He had lots of themed ones....a school fish, Iron Man fish, Captain America fish, Hulk fish, Pokemon fish, popcorn fish, smiley face fish, etc.  He definitely had fun with this part.

The kids are divided up into groups and Nicholas would be one of two leaders for a group of kids.  There are several different animal characters in the program so the kids are first assigned an animal then they are subdivided by colors.  Nicholas had just said that he hoped that he didn't get put in the Zoe group and just minutes later I got an email from the church saying he was in charge of the Zoe Brown group.  I asked him why he didn't want to be in Zoe and he said because Zoe is a girl character and she is a very pink flamingo.  But he handled it well and even came up with some good responses if he had younger boys in his group who complained about being in the pink flamingo group.

Monday rolled around and he was excited to see how his first day as a VBS volunteer would go.

Rachel was attending as a participant and she just loved that the hallway into the main sanctuary was made to feel like you are in the ocean.  There was blue fabric and fish hanging from the ceiling, bubbles galore, and fun music playing!

Inside the sanctuary, the energy was bubbling over.  How exciting for these kids. God will do amazing things here this week!

Rachel was in Bo Orange group.  Her leaders gave them orange bandanas to wear and painted blue on their faces to look like Bo the shark.

When I picked her up, she asked for some coins to donate to the VBS mission outreach.  She was so excited to add her coins to the big jar on stage.

Rachel has been carrying around some post card invitations to VBS and she cut one of them up to make it into a puzzle.

Bubbles, bubbles, everyday!  How could you not be excited to walk through this many bubbles each morning!

The main lobby held a giant 15-20 foot ark for Noah with each of the animal characters aboard.  

Nicholas asked to go to Party City to get some spirit items for his team.  We found this awesome pink flamingo which I thought for sure he would refuse to hold because it is pink.  But I was wrong.  He wanted to be a good leader and get his team excited and that was more important than his dislike of the color pink so he got it.

He also got some brown bandanas for his team, some crosses that we made into necklaces, and some whistles for them.

I noticed that they had decorated the outside of the Jonah's whale hallway to show that you are going inside the whale's mouth.  So cute!

And inside the whale was complete and lit with a black light that gave it an awesome glow.

I just love our church's Children's Ministry and how to go above and beyond to reach the next generation.  It has been so much fun watching all these kids each day.  They are excited about the Lord, making Godly friendships, and having fun together the whole week!  Here is one of the songs that our church wrote for this VBS.  There are even some little dance moves that go with it.  It was amazing to be in the room watching 600 kids and 1200 volunteers singing and jumping to the music!  You can get a glimpse of the excitement from this video below:

Rachel and her leaders.  

Tomorrow night we all come back together for a big fun family night outside with bounce houses, water slide, a petting zoo, and more!  We can't wait!

Family Bike Ride at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

We love going for bike rides as a family.  It's fun and good exercise but we also get to explore some cool trails.  Today we spent a few hours at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. 

During one of our breaks for water, Nicholas brought me a small bouquet of Indian Blanket.  It made for a nice decoration on the front of my bike, and it looked cute on top of my little red first aid kit that I always have with us.

We always have snacks with us and today we also had our Camelbak water pouches (we love those things!).  We found a nice scenic area to enjoy our snack.

My cute little munchkin is all about the snacks!  Anytime is snack time for her.

The trails were the toughest we had been on yet and Rachel did struggle a little when we went up hill but everyone did great overall.  It was such a beautiful day and it was wonderful riding our bikes through such a beautiful area!

On another stop, Rachel brought me this amazing Passion Flower!  Isn't it just beautiful!

And Nicholas brought us a seed pod from what I believe is a Bois D'Arc tree in which he had engraved, "N {heart} M, D, and R" for Nicholas loves Mommy, Daddy and Rachel.  Aww so sweet!

We had a wonderful day and ended it with a yummy dinner at Chuy's Tex-Mex - Oh yeah!

There is no better way I'd love to spend my days than making such sweet memories with my family.

Children's Check-In at Church

Every week when we go to church we go to the kiosk and check the kids into their rooms.  Nicholas enters the info and Rachel hits the print button.  The computer generates a name tag for each of them with codes on the tags and it also prints parents tickets with the matching codes on them.  When we pick up the kids after service, the children's ministry workers match up our codes with the codes on our kids' name tags.  

Well, this weekend was Promotion Weekend at church so kids move up to the room of the next grade level they will be entering in the fall.  Rachel will be in 1st grade and Nicholas will be in 6th.  He is a big Middle Schooler now so the computer didn't let us check him in to his room.  As a 6th grader, he just goes to the room and checks himself in.  He was a little startled and somewhat nervous about his newly found independence.

Rachel enjoyed getting to take over all of the check-in process herself and hers is the only name tag printed.

Wow!  We are entering the world of middle school and I'm excited and nervous all at the same time!