Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Extended Lino Christmas

Ten years from now, this crew will be 19, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12 and 10. I can only imagine how things will have changed by then. For now though, I would like to keep them all this age. This is my four with three of their cousins. They were able to come and visit at Granny and Grandpa's house for Christmas. It was such a special treat since our two families usually do not travel for the actual day of Christmas. The cousins had a wonderful time of getting every last toy and game out at Granny and Grandpa's house. The sounds of little laughter, squealing and all-around fun were heard throughout the day. I treasure the times we have together so that the cousins all grow up knowing and loving each other.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New This Year

Over the course of a year, we get several new ornaments for our Christmas tree. It is always so much fun to pull them out each year and find just the right spot for them on the tree. Almost all of our ornaments hold a special meaning. They were either given to us by someone significant in our lives or they represent something important that happened in our lives over that year. Granny and Grandpa give each of us an ornament that we have to try and guess what it is from the clues before we open it. We try to get an ornament from each of our vacation destinations as well. Our tree is filling up fast with memories of things and people the Lord has brought across our paths. It's absolutely beautiful!

These are some of the ornaments that were new to our tree this year. We received some of them last Christmas and collected the rest this year. I am just now getting around to pulling out the box of the ones collected throughout the year.

Toad's ornament from ECC 2008-2009 - his last year of preschool.

Samoosa's ornament that says she is the youngest grandchild......bought long before the unexpected news of her little sister's arrival!

Our 2009 IMB ornament that reminds us of our part in the global mission to let all the peoples of the world know the love of Jesus Christ.

Our first ornament with String Bean on it!

Our 10 year anniversary trip back to our honeymoon location.

Girly Girl started gymnastics this year.

Our big road trip with three kids - the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis - took us through major floods and Granny helped us drive home.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas

Getting Christmas cards out early is the norm for me. Then I had a fourth kid. Now I am behind on almost everything. I did get these mailed out before Christmas but not the day after Thanksgiving as is the usual. I hope to one day get back to my regular more areas than Christmas cards. Merry Christmas from the Linos.

Here are two that we sent out this year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Any Guesses???

Aren't they cute!! We went through some old pictures a few days ago and these are two we came across. I just had to have them side by side. I will post more later on these two.......

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Middles Singing

This is a short video of Girly Girl and Samoosa at their Christmas program at ECC today. I am so thankful that they have the opportunity to be part of a program that focuses on Jesus and his birth at this time of year. Thank you to Ms. Angela and her staff for their hard work and desire to see little lives impacted for Christ.

You can see Samoosa sitting in the bye-bye buggy just looking around and Girly Girl is on the top row. There are of course more videos...........GG sang four songs and Samoosa sat looking pretty for one song.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Daunting Drama

It is certainly never dull around our house. The drama is most commonly due to the three little girls that have almost completely overtaken the upstairs of our brand new home. They each have such fun personalities - some dominating, some reserved (only at times), some tender, some manipulative (yes, it's true - they are!), some sweet, some charming, some ambition, some funny, some responsible, some annoyed, some sensitive, some lively, some grumpy, some possessive, and some energetic. While they may all look quite alike, they are each beautifully unique and bring a wonderful dynamic to our family. These dynamics are not always easy to navigate. All kidding aside, these three girls are a daunting task. They are cute and fun right now, but there is much to be done to prepare them for the real world, for biblical womanhood, for challenges they will face, for righteous living.

My role in their lives, given to me by God, is to model and teach to them the biblical principles and tools they need to be women who love and honor the Lord Jesus in all that they do. It requires constant effort. It requires much prayer and a focus on the things of God. It is not easy. It is more than hard. It requires support and knowledge. Something I want more than I know how to describe here is for these three to know and experience the high value that God has placed on their womanhood. The culture that they are growing up in is diametrically opposed to biblical teachings of what it means to be a woman. Dr. Russ Moore is someone I trust to keep me 'in the loop' on cultural happenings and the destructive images of women that are so pervasive today. For example, you can track back through his recent blog post to see some of the messages girls receive from the Twilight series (books and movies) and the theology behind them. If I am going to have an accurate biblical impact on our girls, I am going to have to not only know what to pour into them, but also what I am up against. The tools of the enemy come in many shapes and sizes. I pray I am prepared with the biblical response to his tactics and faithful to teach it to our girls.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It Will Never Be the Same

The Lino 'looking at Christmas lights' experience will never be the same again. Granny and Grandpa took us out to Lake Conroe to see the Christmas lights - on the boat in the freezing cold. It was so much fun! Mr. Jack got out his boat and took us across the lake for a great hamburger and a tour of the lights on the lake. The kids had so much fun all bundled up. They got to drive the boat, look at lights, roast marshmallows and play all night. It is such a wonderful memory that I know my detail oriented children will never forget. Thank you Granny and Grandpa. I am so thankful that the little Linos have grandparents that are able and willing to invest time and energy in them. It was a blast! Driving around in the van next year will not be nearly as exciting or memorable.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Special Snow Guest

The snow in Houston was so much fun. We also had some special guests join us......Aunt Jessie and Uncle Derek came over to play in the snow! It is so nice to have them living close by now. We are looking forward to many more fun memories with them! I caught the older two going after Aunt Jessie in this video.

Friday, December 11, 2009

92 and Counting

I have been very fortunate in my lifetime to have relationships with all four of my grandparents. We have except for my few years in North Carolina lived within driving distance of each other. Yesterday was Grandmommie's 92nd birthday! I have wonderful, funny and vivid memories of Grandmommie and Bobo.........the playhouse out back, the rusty slide, cookies in the jar, solitaire, soaps, her sneaking cigarettes, being turned upside down to dislodge what I was choking on, arriving in the middle of the night in the cold at their house, the station wagon, the tableau at SBC, banana nut bread, the little black and white TV, the panel ray heater, her reading to my kids, seeing her sit in the red chair, what seemed like 50 of us at their house for Christmas, her and Golda being snappy, her standing by the stove....always, her 'not really sleeping' - Mom does this now, sitting in the front left section of the sanctuary with her every Sunday we were there, the sound of the sewing machine, calling all of us grandkids by the wrong name growing up - it's hard when you have so many, the hats she loved to wear, long summer visits, watching her in the yard. I treasure all of the time we have had together and for the stories and love she has so freely given to each of us over the years.

She has been living with my parents for almost 4 years now and dementia has slowly taken away all of her abilities to know and interact with the people that love her so dearly. She relies completely on the care Mom and Dad are able to give her around the clock. Thank you Mom and Dad for all of your sacrifices to love and honor her in her latter years. I know it has taken an enormous emotional and physical toll on both of you. It is an effort that most people would not put forth. Thank you for being a tremendous example to us of how to take care of your parents as they age (not just with Grandmommie.) You have done a fantastic job!

August 2009
Sylvia Hinton with me and four of her great-grandchildren - she never would have
been able to keep track of all of these C names!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Survived!

The gingerbread house did not overtake my life! I really do not like messes. Actually, I don't mind some things being messy, but I just can't handle intentionally getting things out just to make a mess.....playdough, markers, things with lots of little pieces. I made a conscious decision to let my kids make a mess on this one. Let them be kids. So, I let them watch me assemble the house and then they did all the decorating without me. Everyone had a plate with icing, knife and bowl full of decorations. I even walked away from the table. They didn't fight. They laughed hysterically. They ate candy - Samoosa did more eating than decorating. This was the final product. The mess wasn't too extreme. I think we just might do this again. It may take me a little longer to agree to playdough on a regular basis.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Really Not Thaaaat Bad

So, Sunday mornings are not always the easiest for ministry families, but yesterday had some added excitement. The kids are early risers and they play upstairs until I tell them they can come down for breakfast. Daddy was long gone by 6:45 when the screaming began. It was definitely a hurt scream, but I did not go running. We have hurt screams often and they usually amount to nothing. If said scream is followed by 'she is bleeeeeeding' as loud as possible from the oldest two, it requires more attention.

This one did, but I responded very well. There were no hysterics or fainting on my part. The laceration was just at the hairline of Samoosa's forehead, smack in the middle and the blood was already well below her nose by the time I got there. She had tripped and fallen into the large dresser in her sister's room. Her forehead was pretty swollen and the actual cut is relatively small and a little deep. Once I got the bleeding stopped enough to leave her alone, I decided that a home-fix would do for Sunday. Sweet friends agreed with me that the drama surrounding stitches really wasn't worth it. Uncle Derek came over to help supervise while I got everything sorted out and then we headed off to church. (Thank you, D.)

We stuck it out until today. String Bean had a well-visit appointment scheduled for early today, so Samoosa tagged along. Dr. Smoot, who I just love, peeked under the bandage and decided that glue would work better. Fabulous! No bandages. She used Dermabond to seal the skin back together. As she said, it is the best invention in modern medicine. No needles, no removal later, and it looks pretty good. The application brought a few tears as it took three of us to hold her still, but all in all, this bonk on the head is really not that bad.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Let it Snow in Houston!

Here is a sampling of our fun snow day on Friday. We were all so sad that Daddy missed it all because of his flights being cancelled. Yes, I did wake a sleeping baby for this. It's not every day that it snows in Houston. The older two had a blast all day and would have stayed out in it all day if I let them.

More pictures and video to come later.....we had some special guests join us for the big day!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Not Quite Sure

Our borderline OCD child was not so sure about the white stuff. She
stayed on the pavement by the truck for a good ten minutes and that
was only after I assured her that it was ok for the stuff falling from
the sky to be on her gloves. She wanted a napkin to wipe it off. She
got the hang of it eventually and loved putting snow all over my jeans.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Times Have Changed

Technology sure has changed things.....sewing is a fine art shared by
few, hand-written love letters are scarce, my kids don't know what a
house phone looks like and surely not a pay phone, elementary math
curriculum includes 'texting', we never miss a show - thank you DVR,
and I could go on.....

That's what makes things like this so meaningful. A friend knitted
this cap just for our String Bean. She took the time to purchase
material and carved out enough hours in the week to do this. I am
thankful for her thoughtfulness and I have to admit, the girl is
pretty cute with those big eyes under the sweet cap. Thank you, friend.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Look at the Fire

Tonight we began our Advent celebration at home with the kids. This is something that I intended for us to do last year as we prepared our hearts for Christmas and it just did not happen. I can't even remember why right now. This year it is a priority. There are several intentional things we do to help our family focus on Christ during the busy season and this one is very easy. I have a wreath and the five candles set up among our decorations. Each week (for us it is Monday or Tuesday evening) over dinner, we will light the appropriate candle(s) and discuss what they remind us of. Tonight, Nathan talked about HOPE that was provided to us by God sending His Son to be the Savior of the world. His birth is our hope of eternity in Heaven. We keep it simple and not too long - memories are made - there are diversions like 'look at the fire' as the candle burns, but Truth is told. They learned a new word - advent - and know that Jesus Christ is our hope.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Encouraging Meltdown

A four year old female meltdown can often lead to a 33 year old meltdown, but today I was actually encouraged about our parenting skills. It was a boys' day and girls' day. The boys went off together without announcing where they were going and the girls did girl things around the house and then ran an errand or two. I was looking at Christmas tree options and just talking to Girly Girl about them and in passing happened to mention that we would talk to Dad about it when they got home from the football game. She absolutely fell apart. Right there in the store. She could not believe they went to a football game without her. She wanted to go to the football game too! You can just imagine the drama from the prissy little girl in a pink hair bow, pink dress and pink shoes sobbing because she was not at the football game. We are definitely doing something right........the girl loves her football. I hope her future husband thanks us one day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Years from Now

This is Toads and his best buddy, Mitchell. They have known each other
since birth (12 days difference) and get to spend all kinds of time
together. I found myself thinking today about what they will
experience together as they grow older. I have wonderful memories of
my 'known since birth' friend......baking cookies, clown costumes,
seatbelts, christmas trees, toy boxes, sleepovers, college roommates,
broken arms, weddings, and now babies. I pray Toads will have equally
wonderful memories with his special friend God has placed in his life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The preparations are in full force for our 2009 Thanksgiving. Because of our busy schedule leading up to tomorrow, we chose to stay home and have people to our home this year. There will be 17 of us gathered around the table (well two are just too small to do much of anything) and it promises to be a memorable event. There will be new faces, old faces, and plenty of young ones.

I am thankful for many things this year............and I know I cannot list them all.
String Bean
loving husband
a house that has not burned like two others this past week
constant friends
sweet Samoosa
technology - sounds weird, but it keeps me sane sometimes
Girly Girl
back on a mission trip
Toads and his details
my eternal reservation
and much, much more!

Monday, November 23, 2009

One little, two little, three little Aggies

Well, actually it's eleven little Aggies. Class of 2025 through class
of 2031. My two college roommates and I survived (and thoroughly
enjoyed) our visit a few weeks ago. The eleven children did so well
during pictures and had a great time playing together.

Until next time.....

Friday, November 20, 2009

What are the names of your sisters?

From the back of the van........'mommy, what are the names of your sisters?' Those that know me, know that I only have two brothers. This line of questioning required me to probe a bit to find out exactly what my inquisitive 5 year old actually wanted to know. After many more questions and drawn conclusions on my part, I determined that Toads was asking about all of my sisters from my Chi Omega days at Texas A&M. He had recently been to College Station and driven by for this photo op of my sorority house in which I lived. This picture and his interest in their names and what they were to me caused a flood of memories for me.

Bid night at the Beta House. Peaches. Grab-a-date from the rec center. Formal at Olsen. Wedding shower in the parlor. Ms. Gibson. Kingwood connections. Shoe polish. T-shirt envelopes. Songfest money. Descending the staircase on Valentine's day. Ro. Tortillas and queso. Monday nights. My ring pass.

I had not intended to go through Rush until my summer orientation on the sprawling campus. I really wasn't even sure what it was all about. I did not set out to be a part of the Chi Omega sisterhood. Within nine days of being on campus I was a Chi-O pledge and had an immediate group of people around me. Yes, I saw more alcohol on bid night in one place than I had ever seen in my life and I was often around people that did not make the same choices as I did. I was not alone. There were people who made choices and lived lives like me. I was an active Chi Omega for four years without compromising on things I knew to be right and true. Being a Chi Omega does not define me. It is a part of  my life experience and something I would definitely do again. I am glad I did it. I made wonderful friendships that have lasted through the years. I learned tons about myself. I learned a lot about the world. I gained understanding and clarity about who I am and what I want my life to be about.

Chi-O ever after, we'll remember you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Anticipation is Building for All Eleven

My list is very long. There are so many things to be done. Clean house. Go to football game. Take family pictures. Fold clothes. Many many things, but much of my list is preparation for what promises to be a wonderful week. My college roommates and their children are coming to visit. This is quite an undertaking. We try to get together as often as we can - at least once a year. This year, I am hosting what is sure to be a rowdy event. There are three of us roommates and once we started adding kids to our families we just kept going. Our first picture I remember taking only had six kids. This week, we will have 11 little people that range in age from 2 months to 6 years. We will make an attempt at catching this group on film again. Hopefully we can avoid complete meltdowns.

When we are not taking pictures or attempting to feed 11 little mouths, we will have time to catch up and visit about any and everything - being moms, wives, our husbands' jobs, what we like to cook, difficulties we have, everything is fair game. I love these two women. They have been a significant part of my life. I have known Amanda since she was born, Jeannie since A&M. Over the years we have been in each others weddings, walked through struggles together, prayed tirelessly for each other and made so many good memories. I am thankful for the time we had together at A&M - for the support we had in each other as we studied, transitioned to adulthood, found spouses, served in ministry and grew as women. Though miles separate us now, these are still two of the people I call first when I need prayers, find out I am pregnant, need to vent, have good news or just want to talk. I know God ordained our steps to come together as roommates at Texas A&M and trust He will continue to bless me through them.

Love you girls!

January 2006 - only 6 kids

February 2009 - three of these are 18 months old, need I say more

November 2009 - coming soon!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Could Never

We have all said it. I know I have many times. "I could never have that many." Kids that is. True, most of us are talking about something in the 8+ range and the high number of 18+ like the Duggars is certainly not even on the radar. But there are many of us that said it before we have what we have. I have people tell me often, "I don't know how you do it, I could never have four, I am about crazy with the ones I have." We just can't imagine how adding one more child could possibly be beneficial in our already busy, sometimes overwhelming, stressed, maxed out lives. I completely 'get' this mentality today - my day with three kids at school for most of the day. It was so productive until I had to pick one child up early, go get the next one and then back to get the last one, only to have one fall apart crying trying to recite John 3:16, one fall and get hurt (lots of drama), one have an allergic reaction to something at dinner, and all of them just plain grouchy. I put them all to bed at 6 pm (not to worry, they will sleep until about 6:30 in the morning.) They were begging to go to bed. So tired. Me too.

Trust me, there are no new announcements to make on the Lino home front. We are NOT planning on having any more children, but I can remember feeling this way when we only had one or two and three. There are just some days that you just don't think you could possibly handle any more children. You can't handle one more sleepless night. One more tantrum might put you over the edge. One more rebellious outburst could make you crawl in a hole. One more sassy remark may cause your teeth to crack when you clamp them so hard instead of sassing back. Then the Lord sees fit to expand your family. He did it to us. More times than we ever planned. Here we are with exactly the number of children that He wants us to have and I can't handle it on my own. I have four kids more for me than for them. These four precious kids I have stretch me more in my faith and reliance on Jesus Christ than most things could. I face challenges and circumstances with them that teach me daily more of who God is and how He loves me. The character building that goes on in my heart because of what I didn't think I could handle is incalculable. I could never grow in Him like He desires without this perfect plan and these four little faces. It's the best!

Some of my faves from this summer and fall.

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