Monday, December 22, 2008

On the 22nd Day of December....

....My day went something like this:
8 children playing
500 interruptions
345 cookies baked
24 cups of water
16 cups of Hawaiian Punch
5 bowls of Honey Combs
4 bowls of Mac-N-Cheese
4 bowls of spaghetti-Os
1 PBJ (sung like 5 golden rings)
2 bags of pretzels
Several bowls of Cheeze Nips
and a busted forehead on my son Shane.

Despite the chaos in my house today (and let me tell you there was major chaos) I managed to bake probably over 345 cookies (that doesn't count the cookies that those 8 children ate)! I had one of the most productive days ever. (Did I mention that I did two loads of laundry and had to run my dishwasher by 1:00pm!)I am very very sore....must get heating pad....I'll be back with another post tomorrow! Here are some pictures of my day!
This is what happens when we play with sticks!

Lots and Lots of cookies! These are just a few...I didn't have much time to take pictures today...I wonder why?

OH! And it wouldn't be a day with the Engels if we didn't get a shot of some strange critter. Here we have a lizard caught in the act of eating lunch. Lovely huh? Lizard eats worm! What fun!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Empty Mall

It sure is a sign of the times when you can walk into the mall two weeks before Christmas and step right up to Santa and chat for a few minutes without anyone telling you to hurry and without having had to wait for an hour just to get a glimpse. True! The boys and I made our annual trip to the mall to see Santa, buy a few gifts and get a ride on the train and eat some ice cream. The boys each told Santa about one thing they wanted for Christmas. Shane of course had to ask Santa all of the hard questions......"Do you know Jesus?", "Did you fly over our house the other day to see if we were good or bad?" "Are you the real Santa?" We had a blast!
Ok, these are some of the AMAZING gingerbread houses that we voted on! Very Cool!

Ice Cream! YUM! I had the chance to talk to the lady in charge of the train ride and she said that many people have had their hours cut way back this year. People are just not shopping this year. Perhaps because so many do not have jobs, or are just struggling to make ends meet. My pastor spoke on shifting our focus to Christ's Presence this Christmas instead of Christmas presents. It was a great sermon...reminds us to put into perspective the real reason why we celebrate this season! So, bravo my young Shane in reminding Santa by asking..."Do you know Jesus?"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Acts of Service

It is the season of giving after all. Our police and service men and women give to us 24 hours a day 365 days a year. To show our appreciation, my children, along with some of their homeschool friends, had the opportunity to decorate the New Smyrna Police department for Christmas. We have done this for the past two years and it always makes my kids feel so wonderful. Here are a few pictures from this event. Above is my little Santa...clever huh?...his idea of course...he looks kind of cute in his brother's glasses...and yes that is a wash cloth in his mouth - how else could one make a beard in a flash!

Brendan and Shane are just thrilled that this officer didn't put them into the holding cell! :)

We made homemade ornaments....the snowflakes were made by the Engel boys.

Below we are just hanging with the Henrys! Ty and Faith are our dear friends. We are doing the same curriculum for homeschooling. It is great to have such a wonderful support system so close by! I am grateful for opportunities for my children to give back, and for the service men and women who give every day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

18 Years and Still Going Strong

18 years of marriage that is. I married Michael D. Engel 18 years ago today. I still cannot believe it has been that long. That is an adult life....I could be the mom of an adult (that is a huge thought when your oldest is only 7).....I feel quite old right now. Not really! Age is relative anyway. So, on December 15, 1990 I vowed to love and to cherish this man who is still my very best friend. I feel immensely blessed that the Lord saved this treasure of a man for me. We met in September of 1989, started dating in February of 1990, engaged June of 1990 and married December 1990. Whew...but other than accepting Christ as my Savior, it was the best decision I have ever made. We were married at my home church in Pennington NJ. It was beautifully decorated already with Christmas wreaths, white lights and poinsettias. My photographer had said that I was the most calm bride he had ever shot. Indeed I was calm, this was an easy "I do" for me. Michael had been everything I had ever dreamed a husband would be. He loved the Lord with all of his heart, he loved his family, and he honored me with every word he had ever spoken to me or about me. In those important things, he has not changed one bit. He still tells me that asking me to marry him was the one thing he knows he did absolutely right.

We have weathered many storms together, that have indeed brought us closer together. He was there for me when my father died, he even helped care for him during his last hours. We traveled the road of infertility for 10 long years. My husband endured tests, and was a champ at administering shots for 6 of those years. He worked full time and put us both though the remaining years of college. He cried and held me through the loss of 14 babies to heaven as we endured miscarriage after miscarriage and failed procedure after failed procedure. He wept and prayed for my recovery as I almost died giving birth to my twins. He cared for those babies while I was in and out of a coma for 4 days in the hospital. He has remained my rock on this earth and has always been the one to rescue me whenever I am in need of rescuing. He has been an amazing, hands on father, teaching my boys love and life. He is one of the most humble people I have ever met. He is so intelligent, so strong in his faith and convictions, so forgiving, so loving, so mine!

On December 12th we celebrated by double dating with another couple. Two of our dearest friends in Florida...Don and Linda Bradley. We were so honored that they would say yes to celebrating with us. It is such a gift from God to be able to find friends (couples) that click in every way with you (you know how it is...not only are the wives great friends, but the husband are as well...that is pretty special). The Bradleys have become like family to us. We couldn't imagine enjoying such an important event without them. We had such a great time together. Here we are at Bubba Gumps.

So, I look forward to the rest of our lives together. Growing old (or older), raising our boys, enjoying each others company until Jesus takes us home. Ask any of my girl friends and they will tell you, no one compares to Mike Engel. Thank you Lord for gifting me with this priceless treasure of a man whom I have the honor of calling my husband. Thank you that he shines Your light and love to all who meet him. Thank you Lord for loving me so much that you would cause such a union. I pray that you would bless my husband. Continue to mold him and make him into the man you have called him to be. I pray that he would prosper in every good work Lord and that you would open the floodgates of heaven and pour out your blessing upon him in Christ Jesus. Thank you Lord for your clear definition of love: Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, love does not boast, love is not proud, love is not rude, love always trusts, love always never fails.

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

Christmas! Yea!! One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is to play Christmas music. Then the next day we decorate our tree. This event is loaded with tradition (and we all know how much I LOVE tradition!). Since we were married on December 15th our wedding and one of our showers were loaded with Christmas ornaments. My mother-in-law made ornaments for our favors at our wedding. Every year since Mike was born, his Mom had purchased an ornament for him. She must have done this until I married him. For our first Christmas together as a couple, Mike had a box of ornaments from his past. Very special. Every ornament means something special to him. We decided to carry on this tradition of ornament giving when we got married. Every single year we would purchase an ornament for each other and one for us together. When we had children, we passed that on to them. Now, every year, their Meme gives them an ornament, and so do we and we also get a family ornament.

Many of my Christmas traditions come from spending so many of our Christmases with the Jonas family. Ornaments have always meant something special to them too and they are full of tradition in that home as well. When we decorate our tree we talk about every single ornament before it is placed on the tree. We remember who gave it to us and talk about the memories we share with those people. It is a very special time in our home.

Last year Kyle placed the angel on the tree, this year it was Shane's year. It is a huge deal! (I don't know why, but we play it up as some great honor!) So Shane was thrilled this year!

So now our stocking are hung.....also each stocking is very special (each one has a story behind it)!

And my PartyLite is on display! (one of the perks of being a former consultant!)

See, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! We are just missing the salt...frosted windows....gray ice....ummmm.....we are not missing those things (just the white snow, sometimes) We love our palm trees and ocean!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"We Have a Good Life Mom"!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love tradition...I love being thankful...I love passing on traditions to my children. Again this year we were able to host Thanksgiving at our home. It was very special. My dear cousin Ilene and her husband Jim joined us, and it was one of the best I have ever had! I loved having my family for this very special holiday. Ilene is indeed very special to me. I have wonderful memories of my childhood when she and her mother (my Aunt Dottie) would take me out to eat, and treat me like a princess. I was like a daughter to them. I attribute much of my "lady like" manners learned from my early childhood experiences with these two ladies. A lot of my early childhood is better off not being remembered because of the tumultuousness that surrounded it, but there those in my family who cared very deeply for me and even though I was probably more like a pauper, it is etched in my heart those times when dressed and treated like a princess. So needless to say, it is a blessing to be able to grow close to my cousin again after many many years.

My fondest memory of Thanksgiving 2008 wasn't really the amazing meal that my husband cooked, or the delicious calorie ridden pies that I made, or even the very special time of going around the table and listening to everyone give thanks to the Lord for all that was on their heart. It actually was the night before Thanksgiving, when I was tucking my boys into bed. They were very excited about seeing Jim and Ilene and sharing our Thanksgiving with them. They talked about what they might say around the table....things like "I'm thankful for my family....I'm thankful for Jesus in my heart....I'm thankful that Pa gets to spend Christmas in Heaven it must be so exciting to have Jesus at his own birthday party!....I'm thankful for my Daddy getting a job...I'm thankful for my church, my friends,...." It went on and on. It was very precious. I turned off the lights, prayed with them and then my Brendan snuggles in his blankets and says "We have a good life Mom."

That was it for me. "We have a good life Mom." It hit me. All those things that we are trying to instill in our children that we don't think are actually sinking in...things like an attitude of gratitude, selflessness, priorities....if we listen close, we may actually find that it is sinking in after all. This year has been a very difficult year for us in many ways. My goal has been to walk in faith and trust the the Lord, that He would provide for our needs, that he would heal our sicknesses, our relationships, that He would help foster our friendships. My children have been witnesses to all of this and can say with all sincerity....."We have a good life!" Indeed we do! We have a great life. It is not about what we have, or what we are able to do, it is about who we have, a loving Savior and a very close loving family and amazing friends, and its about the love that we can share every single day no matter what our circumstances. THANK YOU FATHER! I always tell my children, I may not ever be wealthy, people may not remember me by my beautiful home or my classy look with expensive jewelry, I may not ever have enough money to travel the world, but one thing I am...I am very rich in friendships and relationships. In those things this family has great wealth! #128 on my gift list (of gratitude) Thankful for those friendships and relationships that I will be able to take with me someday when I go 'home'! #129 Thankful for the opportunity to give back a little blessing to my cousin Ilene who has blessed me beyond words. #130 Thankful that my children are learning what is really important.

Here are a few photos our my favorite day!

Here are my boys helping to peel potatoes!

Ilene, Kyle and Jim

Dinner! I feel full just looking at this picture. That would be my Kyle eating that giant Turkey leg!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Indeed Special

If you haven't read this book you MUST. Before my twins were born, our friend, and now a Medical Missionary (Ms. Nancy D.) gave each of my boys their own dedicated copy of this book. I have read this book a million times to children and adults. It reminds us that we are special because we were created by a God who loves every single detail of us. Below is my little "Wemmick" Shane, with dots all over his face. If you have read the book you will understand what the dots mean....if you haven't read the book....well, get over to that library and read it! You will not be sorry.

Next we have Daddy Wemmick too!
I had to put this in here little student...who must look cool!

Yea....too cool!
The truth is this...what is really special about Shane is that he is not ashamed of the Gospel. I know that someday, he will be a leader and he will be influential for Kingdom's sake. Every person that Shane meets will surely be asked two questions: "Do you know Jesus?" and "Did you vote for McCain or Obama?". He is very clear about certain topics, unwavering in his views and love for his Lord! Gifts List (graditude list) #127 Thank you Lord for a boy who is certain of who he is in You and knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is special because of YOU inside of him!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Is It With Boys & Bugs?

.....and frogs? UGH! Graditude List # 126--Thank you Lord for giving my boys a love for all things gross and creepy! I was so afraid to pass down my "fear of such things" to my little boys! Here are just a few that we've managed to capture on film. It is an ongoing event in this household (to catch them and to set them free)! Of course for Kyle, they seem to just fly right to him!

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's a Jungle Out There!

So we have to make time for friends & fun! Right?! That is just what I did last week. Last Thursday night my small group Bible Study girls (God's Girls) met me at Java Jungle in Port Orange, FL. If you have not been there, you MUST give it a try. Click here for more details--it is a beautiful place with much to offer! We had a blast. We brought games, snacks and ordered coffee/tea and smoothies as we sat and played games for a few hours. We met some great people and we just enjoyed our time together laughing and winning (well, I won)....(I warned them that I play hard...very competitive..I'm a good loser when I lose, but really, I like to win!). We played Apples to Apples and just had a great time! These women endured my leadership for 10 weeks as we studied Believing God by Beth Moore. (There were a few women missing.) I have enjoyed getting to know each of them so much! They have blessed my life more than you could ever imagine. We come from all walks of life, different parts of the country and span different generations, yet we are all on a similar journey....learning to trust in Him! Small groups and Bible studies are so great. You walk away with not only great knowledge and changed spirit, but everlasting relationships! Here are a few pictures of my wild and crazy bunch at Java Jungle! (I think I look sick....that is because I was really sick...I got home and had a temp and I've been fighting this nasty cold ever just thought I would throw that out there for whatever it is worth!) :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Want To Be Just Like You

I used to be afraid that my Baby "B" would be a Mama's boy. To some degree he is (He really loves me!)....but in all other ways, he wants to be like his Dad. Ever since Brendan was a toddler, he was dressing like his Dad and talking like his Dad. I love that "B" is like his Dad in so many ways. Like his Dad, he loves to read, he has a sensitive heart, is very loving and kind. He can eat large quantities of food and he is indeed a man of prayer! Here is all the proof you need to see that what I say is truth! Thank you Lord for an amazing model for my boys. I couldn't have asked you for a better Daddy for KB&S!

OK....but do NOT go growing up too fast!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Little Less Testosterone Today

Yum! Does it wet your appetite a little bit? Well, there is a story behind these beauties! (I know, another story...I can't help myself really!) Join me as I rewind and take it from the top!

The phone rings at friend Jamie had her baby today...its a girl...Julia...Dad sounded very tired, but very excited. Nice start to the morning right? It gets better.

10:30am....a knock at the is my date for the day (I sound like Joe Friday huh?). I could hardly stand the excitement. My friend Madeline and I planned this date for her to come and bake with me today! Madeline is in the 5th grade and she is such a smart, beautiful, loving, sweet girl and I am blessed to know her! Watch and remember this young lady, she will be the first woman on the moon! Madeline's Mom is one of my best friends here in Florida. I have found a sister in her and I am thankful to the Lord for her friendship. She is an amazing woman who, with her sweet husband, have raised 3 beautiful girls. Along with Madeline,there is Amelia, she is in the 4th grade and she proclaims to everyone at school that she indeed has 3 brothers --- Kyle, Brendan and Shane! This girl is full of love, generosity and kindness. Finally, there is Elinor. Elinor is in high school and my boys adore her. Almost worship really! LOL! We all love Elinor, she too has a sweet spirit, is kind and generous and full of love! These are three of the most beautiful girls I know, both inside and out! So, today was my day with Madeline! Here is a photo journey of our date!

Isn't it amazing how all of this seen below, mixed together brings about all of what you see in the above picture. Oh of course, there is my secret ingredient that you don't see here, but that goes into every one of my cookies and my husband swears he can taste it every single time!
Here we are getting ready, aprons on! I am sporting the Official Starbucks Apron, while my partner Madeline is wearing the ever so fashionable Elvis Apron. Does she have great taste or what!

Madeline so delicately yet confidently handles my prize KitchenAid mixer with such professionalism!

We made Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies!

We made Pumpkin Date Cookies. OH MY GOODNESS! YUM!

Finally we made Special Occasion--Sugar Cookies!

After 6 hours of baking and another 1.5 hours of decorating......this was the result!
Now is that a sweet picture in every single way or what? Seriously, we worked very hard today, but we laughed and talked and she just blessed my socks off today! Shhhh....don't say anything, but I heard it through the grapevine that my next treat might be for me to get to spend some time with ALL the girls and Mom too (again...without all the testosterone around). OH I just can't wait! I love you Maddy Moon!