FOUR teenagers?!!!!!!

I am waayyyy behind on my blogging and I am sorry.  I will do some catching up in the next few posts.  But I will begin with a most important post:  Daniel turned 13!!  That's right, I now have FOUR teens in my home!!  In one year, I'll have 5, then it will be on to the 20s!!! {sigh}
My sweet baby, Daniel

Daniel was a whopping 9 pounds, 8 ounces at birth.  He was always such a sweet natured baby who became an ornery toddler.  Thankfully, he is again a sweet natured young man.  He loves his family very much.  Daniel's interests include (but are not limited to):  reading, reading, did I mention reading? ;-)  Boy scouts (he is a star scout on his way to eagle!), riding bikes, hurting himself by knocking out his teeth, breaking his arm, and spraining his wrist,  he also enjoys exploring in the woods,  learning all kinds of things.  He recently experienced the giving of speeches in a speech club for homeschoolers and did very well.
At the speech tournament

So handsome!
For Daniel's birthday we were on vacation and had pizza at our favorite spot, Fultano's.  On his actual birthDAY  we travelled to Idaho and stayed in a hotel where the children all got to swim!  Yes, he even swam with a broken wrist!  He also got to go to Bucer's with his Dad and had a large chocolate chip cookie and coffee!

Nice arm, dude! ;-P
Soooo, HAPPY 13th BIRTHDAY DANIEL!!!!!  We love you so much and are so thankful you are here with us!!!!!


Her tooth up close
Look at that gap!!!
Friday was a very special day for a very special 6 year old!  Because Friday was the day that Lydia Grace lost her first tooth!!!  Yay, Lydia!!


From this (4 yrs ago).......
It has been FOUR years since we last got our family pictures done!!!!  We thought it high time to get them done again!  We were planning on getting some last year when we found out we were expecting....we thought we should get them before I started to show, but I started showing so fast!  Little did we know why at the time! (We were MUCH further along than we thought possible!)  So, we waited.  We waited to have an updated picture with ALL of our 11 children!  Here is one photo for you all to view.  Jenny did a great job and we all had so much fun!  That is, until the little ones became so cold that there was no more consoling them! ;-)  Anyway, I will put up the pic with her watermark on it as she isn't fully finished with all of them and we haven't yet purchased the actual pictures.

This picture has become a very special one for Craig and I.  It shows an aspect of our family.  Triumph, hope for the future, look out world!  Here come the HOUSTONS!!!  And......the infamous, "Houstons Stick Together!"  At the same time, it shows how little time we have left with some, and shows us how important it is to take the time with the little ones showing them the ways of the Lord.  The responsibility of this is sobering, but a great blessing nonetheless.

My children are so precious to me.  In the early years, I'd have people tell me, "just wait until the teen years!"  And the funny thing is, now people say, "You have it so easy because you have teens!"  I used to get irritated with the "easy" comment until I realized it was actually a compliment to all the HARD work that had already been done!  That comment is a testament to the fact that much time and effort has been spent in training them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  My "teens" or as we call them, "young adults",  are in no way perfect but they are a blessing to many!

Yes, there ARE easy aspects to having young adults in the home, IF you train them in the EARLY years!  I do have babysitters, those extra hands I always needed, extra eyes, etc.  BUT, they are NOT extra parents for my little ones!  I do the majority of the work with the "babies" because I want them to turn out like their big sisters and brothers!  And because God appointed ME to be the mommy, not Naomi or Anna!

But, I must say that those who think life as a mommy becomes suddenly easier with teenagers, most definitely has never had them!  Don't get me wrong, it is a great joy and this is not a is just a reality.  The burden that comes with older children is intense!  Let me explain.  Do you remember getting close to a final exam, you know one that would determine your very future?   The closer you get, the more extreme study or "cramming" becomes the focus of the moment.  Well, this is how it feels to have young adults living in your home.  Not just any young adult, but the ones you have the responsibility to have made sure they know all that they need to know to go out from under us.  Have we done all that we could, or even should?  My husband has a series of messages entitled, "The Work of the Fletcher" about child rearing.  He added to his series a section on having older children and how when they are about to be "released" you must draw them closer to you.  Just as the arrow is drawn closer before it is released.  Too many parents seem to feel the need to let go of their young adults just when it becomes VITAL to draw them closer to themselves!  This is so important, and at the same time, I MUST juggle the balance of time with my younger ones.  This is a huge burden, but one that is so worth it!  We are, after all, raising soldiers for Christ!!!

To this!  Look out world, here we come!
So once again, here is our "troop".  Enjoy!!!!

P.S.  For those of you who claim that I have it easy, don't worry, your time will come.....your little ones will grow and make life "easy" for you, too! ;-)