Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas in "Ohmahoma"

On Friday the McManus Clan packed up and headed north to Muskogee, Oklahoma (Connor calls it Ohmahoma) The 4 hour drive took us almost 6 because of a horrible traffic jam and a much needed stop to stretch our legs. The boys did great considering that is the longest they have had to be in the van. We stayed on the river on Granddaddy and Granny's boat.
The boys absolutely loved exploring the boat, riding on Granddaddy's golf cart, and throwing rocks into the water.

On Saturday the cold weather came earlier than expected. So we took the boys up to Granddaddy and Granny's church and let them run around the gym. The played basketball, soccer, hula hoops, and just ran around. It was a great idea since they are used to a bigger area than what is on the boat. Afterward we had lunch and stopped by the mall.

Saturday night we went to see Christmas lights at the local garden. You drove through it and saw lot's of beautiful lights including some moving Christmas scenes. After that we drove through the largest collection of Christmas inflatables. It was totally cool and I wish I could have recorded Bryce's reaction every time he recognized a character, it was adorable. Our last stop was the "Christmas Castle" filled with goodies, more decorations, a real "father Christmas, the Grinch, and other renaissance characters.

Our sleeping quarters. Adam and I slept on one bed, Connor on the other, and Bryce in the middle. The boys loved sleeping in the same room together and giggled the first 30 minutes every time we put them to bed.

On Sunday we got up, braved the 10 degree weather, and went to church. The boys had a great time. Connor walked right into his class and starting playing with another boy. Bryce (who I was worried about) overheard the teacher ask if it was okay if he had donut-holes for snack and walked right in without so much as a wave goodbye. That kids loves his food.

The trip was a great success. The boys had a blast and on the drive home completely zonked out for over 2 hours.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Devotion

Ooooh Christmas I just love Christmas, don’t you? I mean celebrating the birth of our Savior, and every year it just feels like everyone’s heart is just in a different place around Christmas. I love the Christmas songs right? O Holy Night, Silent Night, Away in the Manger, and The First Noel. I love the story itself; faithful and scared Mary and Joseph, giving birth in a manager, (ok that doesn’t sound so glamorous), the angels singing and praising His name, the bright shining star to show everyone the way, the shepherds and kings, and garland, and Christmas lights, and mistletoe, and presents, and Frosty the snowman, and Rudolph and of course Santa. Alright I might have added a little there, but isn’t that how it is each year. We always start with such good intentions about celebrating Christmas right, with Christ as the center. But we get sucked in by all the beautiful decorations and food and trees and stockings and to-do lists and parties and shopping and traffic and driving and traveling and and and. Before we know it were sitting at the Christmas Eve Service, if we even make it and we find ourselves convicted that once again this Christmas season was like every other. I want us to make these year different. My prayer is that God breaks our heart to see what Christmas is really about. I pray we fall on our knees and remember why this night was so important.

I hear so many of us refer to the birth of Christ as the beginning of the greatest story of told. That statement is false, Christmas is not the beginning of the greatest story ever told. After all let’s see where the Christmas story is found in the Word. Ah Ha right here in the middle, but wait if this event is the beginning of the story then what about all of this. What about the Old Testament, is it just a fancy introduction written by some other authors? A little bit of the Israelite’s history or maybe some would say it is the history of Jesus’ descendants. Ha we have been studying these books for months now and I believe that they are so much more. I believe that when we started this study in Genesis that that was the true beginning of the greatest Love story ever told.

Some have trouble connecting the two books. When we say that the same God who destroyed generations for disobedience is the same loving God who gave His son for all of humanity to some it makes no sense. Many don’t like the God of the Old Testament, we instead love the stories of the gracious, forgiving, merciful, sacrificing, God of the New Testament. It is hard for some of us to see the God of the Old as the same God of the New. I know that I had struggled with this.

Let me be honest the God of the Old Testament scared me at times, I mean destroying cities, killing his people with snakes, punishing generations for sins of their fathers, a man being eating by a fish, the list goes on. There are times where I just go huh? What we see in the Old Testament many times is the holiness of God. Holy is a hard word to define, how would you define it? Belonging to or derived from or associated with a divine power is the way the dictionary tries to explain it. But even after reading that definition, I go what? Holy is God. It is his character and his being. It is just God.

Then we have the God of the New Testament, still of course the same one and only God. But we get another picture of him. We get his “love”, the love that is willing to sacrifice his only son. I picture the moments I had when I first gave birth to my sons and let’s just be honest, there is no way. There is no way I could sacrifice my baby boys for a bunch of sinners, who may or may not accept me. But God did. His love for us is so big that he was willing to do just that. He is love and is willing do anything for my love.

So how do we wrap our little minds around a God who is Holy and a God who loves us so much. Some don’t want to know a God as Holy as He is. Some are not willing to accept the amount of love God is willing to give. And yet God made it so easy to see the perfect picture of His Holiness and Love together. He gave us Jesus. Jesus, that cute little baby we celebrate every year is the key. He is the Holiness of God and the Love of God, together as one! So here we are this Christmas trying so desperately to keep Christ as the center of it all. Well it starts here. It starts in our heart. It is impossible to think that we phase out all the distractions in our everyday life when our hearts are not right. So I challenge you today, to take a heart check. Where are you and God? Were there times this year where you didn’t believe in the depth of God’s love? Were there times this year you made God small and minimized his true Holiness?

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Santa "Clause"

I recently read and responded to a friend's thread about Santa Clause and how everyone does it? The big issue for Brent, the original author was that he never wants to lie to his daughters. As Christians we try daily to model, teach, and share the love of Christ with our children. Our ultimate goal being that one day they decide to accept Jesus into their heart and make faith in Christ their very own. If we explain to our children that Santa is a real dude year after year and then one day have to confess that he isn't, do we lose valuable trust we try to build with our children and make it harder for them to understand why God is real? Hear is how I responded.....

Hey Brent,
I liked your thread and thought I would share what we believe and practice. I do believe in telling children the truth, but I always keep it appropriate to their age. When Connor asks me, Where do babies come from?, I will give the truth, but not the whole truth. I will tell him what is appropriate for a 3 year mind, not let’s say what Adam will explain later to him when he is 10. With that in mind, we tell Connor that there was a man called Santa Clause or St Nicholas, who loved Jesus just like we do. He loved Jesus so much and loved the gift that he was, that he gave gifts to children who needed them. He loved people because God first loved us. So each year when we celebrate Jesus’ Birthday on Christmas, we also celebrate a man who had a faith so strong that he loved people. We give gifts to those whom we love, give gifts to those in situations not a good as our own, and most importantly we thank God for the best gift of all, Jesus. Does Connor get that all yet? No way, but one day I hope that he sees how fun it was to see Santa each year, but also understands that we remember a man who once lived and gave so much to others simply because he loved Jesus. In the future during family devotions around Christmas we will celebrate others like St. Nicholas/Santa Clause who loved God, loved people, and loved the world.

What do you think?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Family Pics

Every year I "torture" my family and make them all sit still, dress up, look at the camera and smile. I don't ask for a lot, but I need a family picture each year it is just my thing. This year we had Keegan, one of Adam's coworker come over and take them for us. We actually got some good shots. Stay tuned and check your mailboxes I designed my own Christmas Card this year. Enjoy!
The money shot! Everyone smiling and looking at the camera!
Sweet Brothers!
My two men!
Bryce and Moma

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving with Adam's parents; Granddaddy and Granny this year. Rhonda made a fantastic dinner since I was running to the bathroom most of the day. Connor had a special job this year, which was to decorate the name tags. He was very proud of his work's of art.

Bryce waiting for the show to begin!

We got Disney on Ice tickets for us, Adam's parents, and our great friends the Minter family. We all had a blast. Connor loves anything Disney and this show had; the Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and a Parade. When I asked him which part was his favorite he said the Pirates, the robots, and the spiders(there was no spiders but there were webs during the Haunted Mansion number, Connor saw the webs and just put the two together.) Bryce danced on Granny and Granddaddy's laps 3/4 of the show and fell asleep during the last two numbers. Connor has not stopped talking about Micky on Ice. What a great night!

Saturday we went to Ikea and bought one of Connor's Christmas presents; his new BIG BOY BED! He loves sleeping on the top bunk and playing in the "fort" on the bottom. My big boy is growing up so fast!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just a "Fort" kind of Day!

I wasn't feeling well enough to hit the gym this Monday morning. I am still pretty sick and my knee got banged up last Friday, so we took it easy and stayed home. The boys and I set up a cool fort (remember doing that growing up?). The boys played in the fort all morning while I did laundry, steam cleaned the carpets, and made lunch. It was a fun morning.

It was so fun watching the boys play so well together. Connor loved imagining that the "fort" was a space ship, a pirates boat, and well a camping tent. It reminded me of when I was little and my little brother and I would spend hours making forts anywhere we could; the beach, our yard, the living room, the nearby forest, friend's basements, etc. It was fun to remember the "old" days and to see my kids enjoying the games I loved to play.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yup another one!

I am sure you have heard now, but the McManus clan is adding another one to the bunch. We are very excited! The little dude or dudette is due in late June. I have had my first sonogram already and saw the little peanut and heard the heartbeat. Your continued prayers would be much appreciated, I am very sick and trying to keep up with the boys is hard sometimes.

My Soapbox about early pregnancy:
1) I don't understand why some women like myself get violently sick and others absolutely nothing. So not fair!
2) Seriously, being crazy tired ontop of puking my guts out every time I eat and sometimes when I don't.
3) And if that wasn't fun enough let's throw in an increased sense of smell! That is torture. The thought of food makes me yack and then having a crazy dog sense of smell, ugh that is just mean!
I know Eve and the whole fall of man, but really???

Can anyone remember and feel my pain out there?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Feeding the Birds

Today at the zoo, I broke down and let the boys go into "Bird Paradise" and feed the birds. We always skip it because it is always so packed. This Saturday we got to get into the zoo an hour earlier because we are zoo members and the place was empty. I also had coupons so we fed those stinkin' birds. THE BOYS LOVED IT!

Footy Pajamas

Texas' winter weather arrived this week and we broke out the footy pajamas. Connor has been asking about them all summer long so he was especially excited. Bryce was uncertain about the footys at first, but has warm up to them. Unfortunately it is supposed to warm up again this week and we might have to put them up again. Wish me luck explaining that. :) The boys loved taking pictures, check them out.

Man I wish they made them in my size!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Serving Others with Love

This week Connor is learning the memory verse; "Serve one another in Love". He has homework and has to serve someone this week. Granny took Connor to the store and they pick out toys, toiletries, and candy for "Operation Christmas Child; http://www.samaritanspurse.org". When they got home they pack and wrapped the boxes together. What a fun day serving others in love.

Brothers working together packing up the boxes.

Bryce loved putting everything in his box. What an organizer!

Granny was a great help. What a great day!

Soccer Time

Connor's Soccer Team; The Rockstars. Can you tell Connor loved his coach?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cleaning The Jen Way

So I have had a lot of friends ask me how I keep my house so clean with 2 little boys. Let's first of all be honest my house is not spotless and it's never as clean as I want it to be. But I love spending time with my boys and am not willing to cut my special time with them. I am a schedule person as most of you know so I schedule time to clean.
On Mondays:
Laundry usually 1-2 loads. I try to do a load of clothes and a load of towels, bathroom rugs, or sheets.
Vacuum the living room, family room, and hallways.
Wipe down and sweep the kitchen
On Tuesdays:
Wipe down and sweep the kitchen
Vacuum the living room, family room, and hallways
Wipe down the kid's bathroom
On Wednesdays:
Laundry usually 1-2 loads. I try to do a load of clothes and a load of towels, bathroom rugs, or sheets.
Vacuum the living room, family room, and hallways
Wipe down and sweep the kitchen
On Thursdays:
Wipe down and sweep the kitchen
Mop the kitchen and bathroom floors
Clean the bathrooms
On Fridays:
Vacuum the kid's rooms and the master bedroom
Vacuum the living room, family room, and hallways
Wipe down and sweep the kitchen
On Saturdays and Sundays:
No cleaning it is family time
Now some might be wondering when I do these things. Here is how I do it.
1)I have the boys help in anyway that they can; we have light clean ups whenever we leave the house, before we eat lunch, right before nap time, and before bedtime. They clean up their toys and do it well. We sing the clean up song and pick up. I have all the toy bins labeled and both boys know exactly where each toy goes. We always watch sing-a-longs or Bible movies before bed time so the boys don't have to clean up right before bed. Connor knows the longer it takes to clean up the less time he gets to watch "his show".
2)After mealtimes the boys clean up their plates and bring them to me, I always clean dishes immediately and load the dishwasher. I don't put dishes in the sink. When I unload the dishwasher both boys help me put dishes away.
3)Connor helps wipe down the boy's table. And I quickly spray down and wipe the counter tops. This happens twice a day at least.
4)Right after lunch the boys take off to find more toys to throw around the room. I have about 15 minutes to clean without distraction and do just that. I throw the washed load in the dryer, sweep the kitchen floor or mop, clean the bathrooms, or whatever chore I have scheduled.
5) I always vacuum 20 minutes or so before nap time, while the boys are cleaning up. Bryce loves to help me vacuum so he walks with me and holds the cord or pushes the on and off button for me.
6) After my daily nap I always have time to finish anything I didn't get to, yup although I love the schedule if we are having too much fun playing a game, cleaning is put off until later. I also always fold laundry during this time.
Wow that really does look like a lot, but it is not. I am being honest when I say we are talking about 10-15 min of cleaning and another 10 minutes of vacuuming. Well there's the secret to my success. Enjoy and have fun cleaning.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Fun Day with Our Friends

Connor and Bryce love going to play at our good friends; The Minter's house. Avery is 3 months younger than Connor and Elliana is 1 week older than Bryce, so it is great fun. It cracks me up every time we go, because the boys love playing with all the baby dolls, tea sets, and this week dress up clothes. Connor put on the princess dress-up and had a blast with Avery (but to his defense he said that he was a butterfly). Enjoy.....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Two Little McManus Boys+Quiet= Never a Good Thing

I have had to learn this lesson twice recently. The first time, my two
little angels were playing in Bryce's room. I like to think I do a
good job keeping anything dangerous out of reach, so when I "heard"
quiet, I didn't think anything about it. Actually, I went so far as to
think, "How cute! My boys are playing together so well." I am used to
hearing pushing, screaming, banging, throwing, etc... So, I considered
this a positive change. I finally decided to go peek in on my
innocent, adorable boys. As I opened the door, there were peals of
laughter. Connor greeted me with, "Momma, I is painting Bryce!"
Umm..what!? Suddenly, my eyes focused on the normally blue walls of
Bryce's room. They were now mostly white, the room was "smoky," and an
intense smell filled my nostrils. My little Bryce was completely
white: hair, face, clothes, everything. I spun back to Connor who was
laughingly holding a once-full bottle of baby powder like a weapon
that fired pure fun. As much as I wanted to, I simply couldn't get mad
because I just kept laughing. Alas, I never got a picture because I
went into a slight panic mode, but the baby powder is now hidden
safely away. I quickly filed away a note that quiet is never good.
Unfortunately, I don't learn as well as I used to, so I had to be
reminded of this again just a week later. I was cleaning the kitchen
while the boys were playing in the pantry. I didn't think much of it
because they call it their "clubhouse" and frequently drag every toy
they can into the room and play for long periods of time. That day,
they were doing just that, playing clubhouse. I heard polite playing
and watched as they dragged toy after toy to their clubhouse. I
thought nothing of it until the quiet became palpable. Through the
closed doors, I asked Connor, "What are you playing?" He innocently
answered, "We are playing sand castles!" That sounded like fun, so I
resumed cleaning (a topic for another day), and then it hit me. "Wait!
Sandcastles!?" I slowly opened the door and was again greeted with
peals of laughter. "Momma, LOOK at our sand castles!" My boys, the
treasures of my heart, had emptied a full cooler of dog food on to the
floor and had, well, built sand castles. Again, I was laughing too
hard to be mad and completely forgot about capturing such a wonderful
moment on film.
I hope I have learned two valuable lessons. First, quiet is never a
good thing in the McManus house. Second, always have a camera handy to
take a picture before worrying about cleaning up after two
rambunctious, little boys.

Halloween Fun

Connor and Mom at Boo at the Zoo!
Adam was such a trooper, between you and me; HE LOVED EVERY MINUTE!
I need a tan; enough said!
Connor the captain of the McManus' Pirates!
This Halloween we dressed up twice. One cold Texas night we went to Boo at the Zoo. We go to the Zoo a lot, but it was fun going in the dark; playing all the games, trick or treating, seeing lot's of cool crazed pumpkins, and enjoying a fun night out. On Halloween we had a lot of our friends over for dinner and then went Trunk or Treating. The weather had turned and we enjoyed a warm evening playing more games and getting even more candy!
Funny Story: In the past Connor has been a terrible candy picker-outer because I had only let him have dum dum suckers. So on Halloween, every time he got to choose a piece or two of candy he would push the snickers and peanut butter cups out of the way and go straight for the dum dums. This year we did better, but it is still funny every time he goes for some lame-o sucker or laffy taffy Adam glares at me and shakes his head.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brotherly Love

Eating Cheese!
Playing Play-Doh
Eating Lunch
Just being Silly

Embarassing Story Part 1

Growing up in Oregon was a wonderful experience. The beach was about an hour away. The mountains with year round snow were about an hour away. The Columbia Gorge - full of canyons, rivers, and waterfalls - was about an hour away. As an Oregonian, I grew up with funny cultural quirks and oddities. One of the weirdest of these oddities is that you are not allowed to pump your own gas. Yes, that means it is absolutely ILLEGAL to touch the nozzle. So, I grew up watching my parents drive up to the gas station, roll down the window, and tell the gas station attendant how much gas they wanted.
When I got married to Adam, he swept me down to Alabama, where I experienced quite a culture shock. One of my favorite memories is having to pump my own gas for the first time. Yes, I had to learn how to unscrew that little cap to put the gas in and pump my own gas. Let’s not talk about how long I waited in my car at the gas station for the attendant…so embarrassing.
I’m sure you’re already amused, but my story is about a night out at dinner with all of Adam’s intelligent, geek friends. Yes, extremely intelligent, nerdy computer loving, video game playing, ooh I love a great math puzzle type of friends. I was getting some great laughs that night and was feeling really comfortable with everyone. Then the conversation switched to politics and the recent rise in gas prices; this was 2002, so we were not used to expensive gas. I felt out of place all of a sudden and saw a chance to jump in. After all, I was a pump-your-own-gas person now, so I must have some great insight right? WRONG.
“You know, I wonder how long this 1987 gas is going to last? Was that just a really great year for harvesting gas or something? I mean, it’s 2002 already.”
Everyone just stopped and looked at me. Not quite the response I was looking for. I filled the weird silence with some more idiot talk.
“You know, the year the gas is harvested: 87, 91, and 93. We should tap in to the later years of gas like 95, 97, and 99”
That did it. Laughter, lots and lots of laughter. Everyone was just dying, and I just looked confused. I mean, I know “harvested” was probably not the technical term, but they knew what I meant. Right?
Oh yeah, they knew what I meant. They knew that I actually thought that the octane level was really the year that particular barrel of gas was “harvested.” Everyone proceeded to correct me and there was more laughing as I explained that I had never pumped my own gas until a few weeks earlier.
What a great night! Stay tuned for some more great stories; I have loads of them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

5 things every young women needs to know; LAUGH

I have had the great opportunity to speak with young ladies a couple of times and have come up with a fun way to teach the 5 things I wish every young women knew! Check it out and tell me what you think. (This is the short version without my funny stories.....)
Just remember to....LAUGH
L-Love God with all your heart, strength, and soul. If young women all over the world and especially in the United States really got this commandment teenage life would be bearable.
A-A boy is just a boy. Boys and dating while in High School :urgh: it gives me a headache just thinking about it. Boys are not worth all the trouble and work young girls put into them during those teenage years.
U-Ugly is a 4-letter word. Yup that means don't say it, especially when talking about yourself. Everyone even the most beautiful people women in the world wish they could change one or more thing about themself. Instead of concentrating on the things you don't like about yourself, try picking one thing you love. Look in the mirror each day and tell yourself what that one thing is.
G-Girls are Mean. Even your very BFF forever and ever. We are all sinners and screw up everyday. Guess what? That includes your friends ladies. One day they will disappoint you, hurt you, embarrass you, lie to you, and betray you. It is a guarantee, be ready to forgive and forget and love them anyway.
H-Hug your Mom everyday. What? That is craziness. Your Mom probably drives you nuts, does things that make you cringe, or doesn't understand you at all. But she loves you and does what she thinks is the best for you. Agree with them or not, know that one day you will need her. It might be on your wedding day or the day your first child is born, but one day you will want her close. So hug her everyday whether you want to or not.

My Boys are growing so fast!

Here comes trouble!
He was a happy baby!
Bryce David May 5th 2007, (We never got one photo of Bryce awake at the hospital)
Our soccer boy; he is growing up so fast!
He is so cool
oooh a slide!
Connor getting bigger
Connor James born August 4th, 2004
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