Monday, May 1, 2017

Some Exciting News . . .

Hello everyone! The blog has been quiet lately, but our family has been busy as ever! Pop on over to Bianca's blog for some exciting news! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016: A Year in Review

(A note from Roma: for many years, my sister Bianca was the one who ran our family blog. But she has moved on to the college and adult stage of life. So I have been asked to take over. Let’s see if I remember everything she taught me about how to launch a post! J)

2016 really was a great year. There were unplanned adventures for some of us, uneventful days for others, and plenty of going about the usual mundane routine around the house. Which is not a bad thing. Sometimes the day-to-day things seem small and insignificant, but God can use those times to teach you lessons, give you peace and rest, or whatever you need. The days are long but the years are so short! Which is why I hope and pray that we all “fix our eyes on the things that are unseen, because what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18.)

We siblings kicked off 2016 by ice skating with Bianca’s special man, Jessie. What a fun way to start off year! Winter was spent driving around doing photo shoots (our favorite thing to do around here); a surprise trip to Texas for us girls; hanging out with friends; hosting a really sweet missionary family from Ethiopia (another thing our family likes to do as often as possible—we love missionaries!) and celebrating our Mom’s birthday. And Josiah was playing a lot of basketball as well. (And still enjoys it today! A post about that will be coming up soon!)

Bianca and Jessie on a cold photo shoot I took them on. But worth it!
Going to Texas to reunite with friends was the best Christmas present from sissy ever. Thank you Bianca!

SPRING TIME came, which meant joining a large homeschool coop for the first time in a long time. This coop has come in handy for doing fun classes and educational classes (so that if we cover those subjects there, we don’t have to cover them at home!) We’ve made new friends, gone on fun field trips, and have done other fun activities such as bonfires and barn dances. It’s a very neat group with lots of God-fearing home school families. We celebrated Easter and Josiah’s birthday, and for spring break, my Mom’s parents came for a nice long visit. We watched the amazing film: RISEN. (Joseph Fiennes.) If you haven’t seen this film, it’s a must. Then came Ruby and my birthday, and what our recent blog post was about—the awesome road trip U.S.A to Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, and…I’m pretty sure we hit other states too. That was a highlight this past year, seeing and meeting relatives and friends. Read about that here.

Barn dancing with homeschool kids and parents. We got lots more people to come out on the floor later—don’t let the picture fool you! J
This was Easter Sunday. What you don’t know is that I had to walk across the street, climb a big ladder, (first carry the big ladder up and down our super long curvy driveway) and cut this branch from a high tree to capture this photo. The things I go through to get the perfect picture that says SPRING. J
SUMMER TIME! Sports camp at our church; Bianca going to Colorado with her man and his entire family on vacation; and Ben doing ministry in Guatemala for a whole month! Life changing for him. Halfway through his internship, I Face-Timed him and showed him my passport. I was going to join him for one week! It was unexpected—I went with our old church in TX, replacing someone who couldn’t go, so I went for free. I was thrilled! Other summer activities included more photo shoots just for fun, and splashing in the sun at a water park. We experienced crazy weather and having to take shelter in a public building as soon as we had finished swimming; a 4-day power outage in the heat of July; and car problems multiple times, including when we were all dressed up for a photo shoot. But it was still a fun summer. We even got to visit the people who now live in our old house in TX and saw the house again!

Ben and I at the top of Cerro de la Cruz in Antigua, Guatemala, Sacatepequez. My most favorite part of 2016!
Josiah, Mom, and Rubia cooling off one warm July day. Perfect weather. Right before the weather drastically changed and we took shelter at the drug company Bianca works at because of tornado warnings, some serious strong wind and rain. J
FALL TIME brought us enough left-over vacation days to head to Ohio in September to spend time with the Puerto-Rican relatives. It included a day in Amish Country, a wonderful stage production, good food, a cute market and hiking. Still very hot weather at this point, and not very many fall colors yet, but that’s okay. In October, we had our Third Annual Cobbler party at our house and it was delightful! Perfect. Our favorite outreach that we do every year. It included over 80 guests, a tree swing, two piñatas, cobbler and ice cream and fellowship. I pray that the Lord uses these events for His glory! For Thanksgiving, we had all the relatives come and see us again just like last Thanksgiving! So fun to have all these people in the house, reflecting on the goodness of God and Jesus Christ.

Cobbler party fun—breaking into the piñatas!
“Bio” (Abuelo) and Rubia enjoying guitar together over Thanksgiving break when all the relatives flew down. Mikey is enjoying a snooze.
And now I will just skip over to Christmas vacation in Ohio with the relatives, amazing Puerto Rican food, (are you starting to see a pattern here?) chocolate, lights, music, laughter, my teenage cousin doing that weird dance he used to do as a toddler, and singing and candlelight service and telling the story of the birth of Christ…I didn’t want it to end, but it did and we just got back recently and have unpacked and are doing a lot of laundry!

Everyone in Abuelo and Abuela’s living room after presents had been opened.
So, that was 2016! I realize most of our blog readers have probably read a lot of these things in the beautiful Christmas letter my Mom composed and mailed to all y’all, so this post is mainly for people who don’t get our letter, and also to just sum up this past year.

To close, I will share with y’all my personal goal for 2017. I want to write down on blank sheet calendars for 365 days, 12 months, 52 weeks—what I am thankful for. I am learning how thankfulness can fight so many sins—anxiety, worry, jealousy, covetousness, selfishness, etc. It can also humble me, as I realize how much God provides, protects, and blesses in one single day. It helps me to not focus on what I don’t have, but on what I do have: this peaceful, 10-acre lot with cats and a dog, chickens and roosters, lots of wooded areas, gorgeous sunsets, my parents, four best friends, and friends coming to visit soon.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, and I hope 2017 is filled with blessings, life changing moments, adventures, hope, peace, love, and joy, and a deeper relationship with God.

~Roma (and the rest of the clan)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

~Posted by Roma
Our goal for 2017 is to Post. More. Often! ;) So beginning next week, look for more regular updates coming on Eagles Wings! For now, our family would like to wish all of you a blessed New Year in 2017. We look forward to all that this new year brings!
Here is a blessing over all of our blog readers for 2017:

“…To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor:
To bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of
a planting of the LORD
for the day of His splendor.”
(Isaiah 61:2a and 3)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Virginia 2016

~Posted by: Roma
We recently got back from a really awesome vacation! It was a much needed one. J I am so thankful we were able to finally return to Virginia after six years. If you have been reading our blog for a really long time, you may remember that we all went to VA in the spring of 2010. We spent one whole week visiting family (many were relatives we kids had never met before) and exploring Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, and then another week in Washington D.C seeing all the sights. Since then, we often talked about going back to Virginia, but hadn’t been able to for various reasons. Well, six years later, we were finally able to pack our bags and take a road trip! Praise God!

This time we did not go to D.C at all, nor Williamsburg or Jamestown. This time, the main goal was to see our dear Aunt Gladys, who is now 91 years old, and there were also lots of other relatives and friends we wanted to make sure we would see! Most of this trip was time spent in the car driving—from OK to MO, from MO to TN, from TN to VA, driving from town to town in VA (because the relatives are spread out) and then driving from VA to TN, then TN to HOME! (Yes—a lot of driving. In a minivan with exactly seven seats and a trailer hitched to the back. But we made it! t’s a good thing we love each other because we needed to be squished together for days--ha!

Our first stop was…Branson Missouri! For awhile now, we have been wanting to go to the Sight and Sound Theater in Branson to see the production of “Moses.” Sight and Sound is incredible—they have a theater in Branson and in Lancaster PA, with Christian actors and actresses who do a fantastic job bringing the Bible to life! Our good friends, the S family from Texas, wanted to see Moses as well, and so we road-tripped up there with them to see the production, and hang out together afterwards. We had so much fun with the S family, we are determined to make this a tradition! J After the show, we all went out for BBQ together, and then since we were all staying in the same hotel, we hung out in the lobby late into the night playing a card game. So much fun!

The next day, the S family headed back to TX and we hit the road again and headed to TN for one night, and then on to Virginia.

The first stop in VA was Danville. We went to my Dad’s cousin Bill’s house to have dinner with him, his wife Becky, their daughter Monica, Monica’s three girls Kayla, Bethany, and Hannah, and Kayla’s daughter Logan. Lots of family! J We hadn’t seen Cousin Bill since our Grandma Ruby’s funeral and so it was a happy reunion to see him again. As for everyone else, it had been six years and so everyone has grown so much!

We had a yummy cookout that night and caught up on all the news. Next morning, we all went to Cousin Bill and Becky’s church and then out to lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant.

After saying our goodbyes to Cousin Bill, we headed over to see Aunt Gladys. When we got to her house, however, we saw a note taped on the door. “I’ve been waiting to see you all since noon. It is now 4. I am at ______ restaurant if you want to meet me there.” Apparently, there had been a miscommunication, and while we were still hanging out with Cousin Bill, poor Aunt Gladys was all ready and waiting for us! (Southern people are very patient.) So Dad found the restaurant on his GPS and we were off to chase down Aunt Gladys, LOL! We found her and her daughter Patsy and our Cousin Cynthia all at the restaurant. So we sat down and ate, and afterward we all went back to the house to visit.

This is a blurry picture, but it is precious. Aunt Gladys is one special lady! All of her siblings, including our Grandma, have all passed on, and she is the only one left in that generation. She is strong-spirited, candid, southern, and full of spunk. And we love her! She still drives her own car, lives alone, walks around with no cane or walker or anything, and when I started to feel nauseous that evening and was sipping water, she came marching into the room and declared, “She shouldn’t be drinking water! Diet Pepsi will help!” So she gave me some and sure enough I felt much better! How did she know Pepsi would help? J I miss chatting with her and Patsy and Cynthia about politics, religion, family, and memories already.

On Monday—Memorial Day—it was time to go see cousin Em! We checked out of our hotel in Danville and started driving towards Richmond. Last time we came to VA to see Em, his wife Lois was still with us. Cousin Lois passed away a few years ago, but Cousin Em recently remarried, to a wonderful woman named Irma, and he moved out of his home into Irma’s condo. So we were reunited with Em and met Irma for the first time. We love her! She is a very pleasant lady with a neat background so we enjoyed talking with her. After dinner at Cracker Barrel, we took a tour of their beautiful home and landscape outside, and spent some time just visiting. Then goodbyes were said.

Ruby trying to get near the baby goose at Cracker Barrel. I don’t think mama goose appreciated that as much so she and Ruby are making eye-contact right now. J There were also lots of ducks there that cousin Em and we kids enjoyed watching while relaxing on the rocking chairs!

And that wraps up Dad’s side of the family. Now it was time to go to bed and get ready to meet our friends the W family the next day!

Enjoying time with the W family in the living room—here Bianca and Rubia are with Alexis, Kimber, Cassilyn, and Lydia. They were the sweetest girls!
Dad and Bianca met Mr. W and Alexis at a Father-Daughter Retreat in Georgia many years ago, and we kept up with their family through social media for many years, but it was so wonderful to finally meet them all in person! They homeschool like us and we are similar in many ways. My parents really enjoyed talking with Mr. and Mrs. W, Caleb got to hang out with Ben, and Josiah loved playing with their son Josiah!!! J They showed us their rabbits, cats, dog, chickens, and cows—we took a walk together to a horse farm and back, and enjoyed lots of fellowship. I hope we see their family again!

We have gained lots of new friends. J
And last but not least, the next day we drove to Quantico to see some of Mom’s side of the family. After 6 years, 5 months, and 5 days (YES—I figured out exactly how long it had been) we got to see Mom’s Marine cousin Matt and his family again! We love our cousin Matt and we were very excited. We went to their house and saw Matt, his wife Courtney, and their kids—sweet little Cross and precious baby Charlie. Cousin Mark (Matt’s brother) was also there with a friend, and our Titi Wanda, Matt and Mark’s Mom, lives there as well.

Besides Matt and Courtney’s house, we also toured Titi Wanda’s apartment next door, saw the chickens and horses, and then all went out to eat at Golden Corral. Afterward we came back to the house to visit for a while.

Our time with all our relatives was definitely too short. L But I am still so thankful we got to see so many of them. (Despite the fact that Josiah and I sat in Urgicare during this vacation due to bad coughs and congestion, and I struggled with motion sickness on Day One of the trip. But God is still good! We made it through the whole road trip A-Okay and had lots of fun.)

We also turned the road trip home into a fun occasion! Driving out of VA, we stopped for a tour of Michie’s Tavern, which was fascinating! Next we stopped in the music city for a whole day of family fun! Our day in Nashville included: getting a tour of the Carnton Plantation, owned by the wealthy McGavock family during the civil war; eating lunch at a delicious local bbq place; exploring a toy store with over 20,000 toys in it, and relaxing outside over refreshments at a very hipster coffee shop.

When we got back to our suite, we all jumped into the outdoor pool and hot tub and then got into an intense volleyball game in the water—just the seven of us! It was so nice! That day made me very grateful for the family God has put me in. I love all of them!

This GPS (Maggie) really came in handy during our road trip. If you look closely, my Dad turned the little car on it into an airplane. That is the inner private-pilot coming out in him. J
So, after 10 days, thousands of miles, 6 hotels, family, friends, laughter, lots of food, and making new memories—our road trip came to an end. We have so many other GREAT pictures I would post here, but it would make this blog post way too long. I hope we get to see all those people again soon, Lord-willing, and it was great to just be able to get away from normal life for awhile and do something different! And, to combine Ben’s, Rubia’s and my birthday trip all into one trip. What a great vacation.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Spring Activities

~ by Rubia

We have been enjoying a beautiful and active spring this year in Oklahoma! It’s hard to believe we’re less than a month away from our end-of-school vacation to Virginia! It’s also hard to believe we’ve only been here for 9 months, yet have done so much, made many great friends, and are making good memories. We feel very blessed!

This post contains pictures from Roma’s camera roll, so these activities were ones that involved her and me; however there were things that the others recently did without us that I do not have pictures from. For example, Dad went on a business trip to Minneapolis, and Bianca and Ben went on a trip to Texas. Perhaps y’all will see posts from them soon about what they’ve been up to. J

This is a picture from Easter Sunday. Roma dyed these eggs.
The siblings on Easter Sunday. We enjoyed a breakfast fellowship at our church called the “Love Feast” with communion and worship.
A few weeks later Roma and I were invited to a birthday party by a friend from youth group. She turned 13, and is a very sweet girl with a very creative family that threw what Roma and I called, “A pinterest type of party.” J They had a perfect back porch and yard with adorable decorations and *really incredible* homemade chocolate cake with strawberry frosting. We enjoyed seeing other friends from church there and playing fun games that afternoon.

The dessert table.
Look at the cute décor and bright colors! The birthday girl is in the blue shirt closest to the camera.
We learned “The trash can game” at youth group and have had fun with it. J You gather with your friends around a trash can, and then try to pull each other to touch the can and get each other out. The last person to touch the can wins.
Y’all, guess what?!! We finally built a chicken coop and purchased 6 chicks!!

Dad and Josiah worked on the coop together. Now we have an adorable bright red chicken coop!
Next Dad will build a run for them. Right now our 2-week-old chicks are in the garage and doing well! We did have to return 2 that died and one injured, sadly. We’re not sure why they died. They were replaced at no charge. We love having our 2 Black Australorps, 2 Silver Wyandottes, and 2 Buff Orpingtons to cuddle with every day. J This family of egg-eaters is excited for future eggs as well!

Had to put in a property picture. We’ve so enjoyed the recent gorgeous days and our property out here.
Roma and I have had the privilege of serving a couple of times in the kid’s ministry at church. We look forward to continued involvement! We love working with kids. This class has kids about 4-6 years of age. Miss Shawna is the teacher and does an amazing job with them! 
Bianca and Ben have been enjoying their involvement in the college ministry at church. Since our church is in a college town, they’ve had the opportunity to make lots of new friends. A few Sundays ago some of them came to hang out and play basketball at our house. Of course Josiah joined them.
There’s hardly ever a lack of adventure around here. This big tree looked healthy on the outside, but was actually rotted inside and took us by surprise when it fell over the driveway one windy morning. Thankfully, it came down moments before Bianca and Ben were driving there on their way to work…and just before Roma and I returned from our run. God is good! Everyone was safe and no damage was done to anything—the tree just missed the cottage workshop, and the chicken coop.
Now you get to hear about the HEARTS homeschool co-op! It had been years since we were involved in a homeschool group, and never had we tried a co-op before. But Oklahoma is a very homeschool-friendly state with lots of opportunities for homeschoolers. The HEARTS co-op meets weekly during most of the school year at a church close to us. They offer classes that are mostly fun, extra-curricular types, with opportunities to fellowship with other homeschool families. I am so glad we joined for the Spring semester. We loved it so much and look forward to next school year! Josiah especially had a blast and will get to be a part of it for years to come, Lord willing! Since he graduated from 6th grade this Spring, he got to be part of the graduation ceremony!

I did an art class with these sweet girls and painted my first gourd. There were some awesome creations! The class was unique because while painting was a part of it, perhaps the bigger part was talking with each other, getting to know one another and sharing lots of stories! 
This class of little ones does the Five-In-a-Row curriculum. Roma loved working with these kids over the last semester! 
Roma and I participated in the drama class and had a lot of fun! We had a big, all-girls class with lots of silliness and laughs! On the last day of co-op, we did a short, funny play. Here Roma (as Katie Lean) is interviewing a mermaid.
I was more than just Elsie the cow from Jack and the Beanstalk…I was a Chick-fil-A cow!! J (That was, at this moment, an unhappy protestor.)
On the weekend before the last co-op meeting, the co-op’s secretary and her family hosted their annual end-of-the-year party at their barn & ranch! This was our first time going out there and we had a blast!

The Barn at Gooseneck Bend.
Bianca and Ben were in Texas during this event, so it was Mom and Dad and the rest of us kids. (We were the only ones involved in the co-op anyway.) Pictured here are my lovely parents. Dad enjoyed sitting near the John Deere tractor! J
They had a great barn with a dance floor. I thought the Daddy-Daughter dancing to the left was cute. J
Later, after eating barbecue for dinner, one of the girls asked me, “Do you like dancing?” To which I responded, “Well yes, I did ballet for a couple of years.” But she actually meant barn dancing. I need to do that more! I remember doing it once in our barn in Texas with some friends. I was glad at this moment that I had already learned the Virginia Reel!

Getting started! I was learning slowly…but had a great time! It got way better with the Virginia Reel. I believe here we’re trying to do Cotton-Eye-Joe. It had been awhile since I’d done that one. 
While those were two of the “barn dances” we did, we also stopped at one point for an 80’s throwback and did YMCA. J

Part of our drama class had to get a dramatic picture. (Or two or three.) 
Huge bonfire to end the party!
The next weekend was the graduation ceremony at co-op for the graduating kindergarteners, 6th graders, and seniors!
The band was youth-led by the praise and worship class! We’ve got some musical talent amongst these homeschoolers.
Our 6th grade graduate with Mom! (Dad was in Minneapolis.) So proud of Josiah and excited to see how God will use him in the future as he continues to learn and develop his skills. 7th grade, here we come! 
The siblings.
The next weekend (coming now the end of April) we drove about two miles down our road to the church where Josiah’s basketball coach preaches. They hosted their annual Echo Knights basketball banquet to celebrate the end of the season. Awards and basketball cards with each player’s picture were also given out. The Echo Knights sure had an amazing season! The middle school boys (Josiah’s team) finished undefeated this season for the first time in Echo Knights history. So thankful that JoJo had this opportunity to be a part of it and make great friends and memories.

Josiah and his buddies holding up their basketball cards.
Roma and I spent the next day (Saturday) babysitting our adorable neighbor kids for a second time. We had a wonderful day with Z and L! Josiah was also helpful because he is close to Z’s age and could come play with him. They’ve become good friends since we’ve moved here.

Helping L skate on the driveway.
And that wraps up the highlights of April! So thankful for the milestones, moments, and memories all in just this past month. God bless y’all!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Birthdays and Spring Break

~Posted by: Roma

I hope everyone reading this finds themselves well! Life has been very busy, exciting, and full, and our calendar is filling up fast. Here is some of what we’ve been up to…

Last time we posted was around the New Year. Later at the end of January, we celebrated our wonderful Mother’s birthday! (And I’m sure she would rather I not mention how old she is now—I mean [clearing throat]—how young she is now.) J We kids did the very special thing we’ve been doing for 9 years now—got up while it was still dark, decorated the whole house with strings and balloons, and made Mom breakfast in bed! She loved it, as she does every year. We went through the whole day playing her favorite jazz CD’s, and later that evening she opened her gifts. She wanted orange marmalade cake so we enjoyed that as well. (Delicious!)

Relaxing in the living room, digging into the orange marmalade cake.
Early in March, another special person needed to be celebrated: Josiah! He brings joy and life and energy to this family—being the youngest—and was definitely a happy gift to my parents from God! He asked for a day off of school just to relax, play basketball and watch movies or play games, and he wanted Hot Fudge Sundae cake this year! (Yummy choice.) For his birthday dinner, he requested grilled garlic-lime chicken, our Mom’s wonderful garlic mashed potatoes, salad, and rolls.

Later that week, all seven of us got into the car and went on a surprise birthday trip! We ended up at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium! It was really fun and educational. Afterward, we all enjoyed great food and service at Carrabbas Italian Grill. When we lived in Texas, we usually ended up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area on surprise birthday trips. Now that we live in a new state, there are so many new places to explore and look at for future birthday trips!

Hot Fudge Sundae cake for Josiah’s birthday.
Opening gifts. He loves his Star Wars glow-in-the-dark T-shirt!
All of us kids pose in front of the MD-80 donated by American Airlines, at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum.
The celebrating continued…a few days later, we went to the airport to pick up my Mom’s parents—“Bio” and “Bia”—who flew in from Ohio to spend a week with us!!! I put together a big ‘Welcome!’ banner to hold up at the airport, and after they arrived, off to Panera bread we went, in the pouring rain. (We had a lot of rain during their visit, but nice warm temperatures and a couple of sunny days mixed in.) What a blessing to have them with us! They are amazing. When Abuelo and Abuela were here, everyone enjoyed a spring break from school, sleeping in, drinking Puerto Rican coffee, and spending time together as familia. Later that week, Bianca’s man, Jessie J came for a couple of days too.

Josiah with Bio and Bia. They brought gifts for him to open the first night. Then everyone wanted to exchange spring break gifts to each other. Bia gave all of us clothes, and we gave both Bio and Bia T-shirts with quotes on them: Bio’s T-shirt said something he always says: “The best is yet to come!” and Bia’s something she always says: “You make my heart sing.” They were tickled to get T-shirts with their famous quotes on them.” J
Spring break was a time for rest and relaxation, family time, and reflection.
Mom made so many healthy nutritious meals for us that week, since everyone has been trying to eat healthier. Some of us enjoyed lots of evening walks too.
Then one day, after church, we went unhealthy. J Jimmy’s Egg is good.
Most of the time we just stayed at home chilling. But one day we decided to go out to the movies and watch “Risen.” What a powerful movie. A must see! From left to right: Jessie, Bianca, Josiah, Bia (Abuela), Mom, Rubia, and Bio (Abuelo.) Ben and Dad both had to work that day, and I’m taking the picture.

Bio and Josiah play basketball.
Jessie and Bianca walking, while I’m on chaperone duty taking pictures. J)
Saying goodbye to all our guests we host in our home never gets easier. We are already looking forward to the day they can come back. We thank the Lord for the blessing of getting to be a blessing to others by opening our new Oklahoma home to them! We had a wonderful spring break!