Friday, November 10, 2017

Corn Maze

For the past two years, our church has created a corn maze for our community. The maze is in a field that is actually right next to our church-- kinda gives a perspective of how rural the area directly surrounding our church seems to be. Our family didn't make it out to the maze last year, but our boys absolutely loved it when we went this year! They were at a perfect starting age for it. The weather was breezy and not too warm, so that added to our lovely day as well.


The goal of the maze was to find 14 clue words hidden throughout the field. If we found all the words, we would uncover a secret message. Then, if we could make our way out of the maze and hand in our completed code sheet, we'd earn a prize. Jaden and Cody were eager to start word-hunting! After a brief orientation video, we were given an orange flag that was to be used if we ever got lost and needed help (Jaden and Cody took this very seriously). Finally, we were sent on our way into the maze! The boys took turns being the leader (aka the navigational decision-maker).  



Each clue word was displayed with a Texas-related symbol (like an armadillo, Texas star, or cowboy boots) on a wooden stand. Jaden and Cody eagerly copied down each word as we found them hidden in the corn.



Adley was a pretty good sport during our 45+ minute hunt through the corn. She wasn't too much help with finding the words though.


If we ever got stuck, we could climb a wooden platform in the middle of the maze and attempt to scout out any missing words. We climbed this platform several times! Finally, we successfully completed our code sheet and uncovered the secret message: "You might give some serious thought to thanking your lucky stars you're in Texas."


Hooray! We did it! After hunting down all of these words, it was a piece of cake finding our way out of the maze. Cody and Jaden happily turned in their code sheet and received some prize candy. Outside of the corn field, there were a few more kid-friendly activities-- a large open area to run around in, a hay pile to climb on...


...and corn hole games to play. This was a fun game for the boys to try, although we still need to work on improving our aim. Let's just say that we had to search through the nearby pumpkin pile several times for a few missing beanbags! ;)




The corn maze site had some pumpkins out for purchase and a great display for photo ops too. We loved our family day at the corn maze and look forward to attending again next fall!



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Pumpkins!

Only in Texas do kids decorate pumpkins in shorts and T-shirts. Sigh... the cooler weather will be here eventually, right?? Happy fall, y'all! :) 

Cody and Jaden had a variety of opportunities to decorate pumpkins this year. First of all, the same day we visited the Oil Ranch, the boys asked to paint the pumpkins they had received there. Mommy brought out the acrylic paint, covered the whole table, and then chuckled when the boys spent less than 5 minutes painting a simple face on their pumpkins. 



These pumpkins (affectionately named Halloween and Orangey) quickly became dear friends.



Cody and Jaden wanted to pose in numerous pictures with their pumpkins...





...and even take a few of their own pumpkin photos.


 

A couple weeks later, Ms Amanda from church gave each of the boys a pumpkin that was leftover from an Early Childhood event. Jaden and Cody were thrilled and happily painted their new friends.


All 5 of these pumpkins (including Adley's pumpkin from the Oil Ranch) were the objects of a variety of upstairs games in the following days, including this pumpkin jail.


The week before Halloween, Jaden and Cody received yet another mini-pumpkin from school. (Thankfully, one of them could replace one of Cody's that had fallen and cracked.) These boys were quite pleased with their large pumpkin family!


We did go out eventually and buy a couple of larger pumpkins that we could use for carving. Cody and Jaden each picked out a free carving template from the pumpkinlady.com website (highly recommend this site!). Cody and Daddy worked together to carve Clement,



while Mommy helped Jaden carve Cain.


Honestly, the carving process was actually a little rocky this year. We had a few tears when one boy struggled to use the carving knife independently, more tears when the other boy pinched his finger, and then both boys refused to do anything that would require them to touch the yucky pumpkin guts. On top of all this, Adley wasn't happy at all being quarantined to her jumper, so we had an adventure trying to keep Adley from stuffing the newspaper in her mouth. Ooof! At one point, both boys were just sitting on the couch watching the Praise Baby video that we had put on for Adley (who of course was much more interested in the pumpkin process) while Mommy and Daddy were carving away in the kitchen. Hmmm... 

In the end, though, all the hassle was worth it when we saw just how pleased Jaden and Cody were with their (our??) final jack-o-lantern faces. The boys were so excited!



Cain and Clement were a hit!




Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Funeral

In mid-October we heard the unfortunate news that my grandma had passed away. Just weeks prior, Grandma Walquist had turned 95, a milestone that had been a goal for her. While we will miss Grandma's spunk, her honesty, and her firm faith in the Lord, we rejoice that Grandma is now together with her Savior Jesus in heaven. What a blessing it is that we do not have to grieve like those who have no hope (I Thess 4:13), but that we can take a confident comfort in Christ's victory over death and in His promise of heaven for us, His children.

Grandma's funeral was scheduled during a very busy week for Jason, so our family decided to just have Adley and me fly out to Missouri for the funeral. We traveled with my sister Kim and her son Nathan, too. It was so great having travel buddies! Adley did great on her first flight. It helped that the flight was super early in the morning (5:30am), so she slept nearly the whole way (when she wasn't trying to chew on the flight information cards, that is...).


Nathan was an awesome traveler throughout the whole trip. He was very impressed by the airport's moving sidewalks.


One of the best parts about attending a funeral is having a chance to see extended family. I had not seen my Uncle Rick or Aunt Mary from New York for quite a few years. I loved catching up with them and letting them get to know Adley.


A lot of our stay was spent chatting with family at Grandma's house. (I love this candid photo that Sarah captured of us relaxing on that first evening. My siblings and I almost look as if we're trying to pose like the pictures of my dad and uncles behind us.)


We went out to dinner as a big family to a Chinese buffet, Grandma's favorite restaurant to take us to when we visited her in Missouri.


Our trip to the Midwest gave Adley her first experience with cold weather. Mommy had to dig out some warmer clothes for Adley before we left! Doesn't she look pretty cute in her first-ever pair of tights?


Grandma's funeral was a wonderful service. The pastor gave a comforting message of hope in Jesus' resurrection while also celebrating Grandma's life and legacy of faith. Kim and Sarah sang a hymn, "The Lord's My Shepherd, Leading Me" while I accompanied them on the piano. Kim and Sarah's voices sounded so beautiful together! Following the service, we had additional time to visit with family at a dinner that the church provided for us. Adley was primarily content just in Mommy's arms on this trip, but she did get a little bit of hang-out time with other relatives during this funeral dinner.

Adley and Macy

Adley and Aunt Jill

The extended Walquist clan:


The last hymn sung at Grandma's funeral was "Abide with Me." This song is one of my very favorite hymns. The lyrics are perfect for providing comfort at funerals, reminding us that we can rest assured in God's presence and His triumph over death. Even when we are faced with the worst that this life can give us, we can always praise God for His power, His unending love, and His faithful presence!

"Abide with Me" (LSB vs. 5&6)
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Heaven's morning breaks and earth's vain shadows free
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Casey's Visit

In early October, we welcomed a friend from Montana to our home for a 5-day visit. Casey attended our church in Billings and became good friends with Jason. The two would often meet to throw a football together or play poker with a group of guys. We were happy that Casey chose to spend his vacation time from work with us here in Texas!

This was Casey's first time meeting Adley. During his visit, Casey often got down on the floor to play with Adley or would volunteer to hold her when Amy had her hands full. Adley enjoyed her new playmate!


Casey jumped right in to play with the boys too. He read books with them,


played several games of Battleship,


and joined in on the popular front-yard football games.


Jason and Casey spent some guy-only time together during the week by visiting NASA, attending an Texas A&M game,


and playing poker with some other friends (including Matt and Jonathan).


One of Casey's special requests during his visit was to see Galveston Beach. We were more than happy to oblige! Our whole family took a day trip there. The weather was just perfect for a beach day! Jaden and Cody tried out their birthday kites from Uncle Andy. When the boys tired of kite-flying, Casey took over and flew the kite even through our picnic lunch!


The boys also enjoyed playing and writing in the sand,


jumping in the waves, running along the beach,


and (go figure!) playing a game of sand football. :)





The boys also showed Casey how they like to feed the seagulls.



Adley's second time at the beach was a little more challenging for Mommy and Daddy. A crawling baby who constantly puts her hands in her mouth + Lots and lots of sand = A difficult combination! To avoid this scenario, Adley spent a lot of time in the water with Mommy and really loved it. She didn't seem intimidated by the waves this time.


Adley also enjoyed her quality time relaxing with Daddy. :)


Our family loved having an excuse to visit the beach again this month. Thanks to "Mr. Casey" for visiting us out here in Texas!