Monday, January 1, 2024

Instagram Dump July - December 2023

Here it is . . . all the posts I made to Instagram from July through December of 2023. Enjoy!

07/04 - Happy Independence Day! πŸŽ†

07/14 - Oklahoma storm 😍

07/17 - A few weeks ago, we visited the Little House on the Prairie Museum in Independence, Kansas. The replica of the cabin the Ingalls family lived in was mind-blowing and felt so very distant from how we live today. It didn't take long to go through everything, but definitely a neat experience!

07/19 - Bible camp memories . . . always some of the best of the summer! Next year I'll have four kiddos old enough to go. I'm not sure my big kids are as excited about this as I am 😁.

07/20 - While the big kids were at Bible camp, we enjoyed Kansas City for a few days. This included sight-seeing at the plaza, Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead, and swimming at the hotel while Daddy worked. I πŸ’˜ KC!

07/23 - About 3 1/2 years ago, a precious older couple moved in next door to us. The man passed away not long after moving in, so my kiddos kind of took it upon themselves to visit with the lady. They would often take her cookies, and eventually the visits grew into a sweet relationship. We adopted her as our neighbor grandma, helping her out around the house, taking her treats and meals, and sharing lots of life and stories. She adopted us too, and took care of us in different ways, as well. She always welcomed the kids into her home, listened to their loooong stories, and took interest in everything they had to tell her. At 90 years old, she became very ill a few months ago, and her life on this earth ended a few days ago. My kiddos are really sad right now, but we are so thankful we got to be part of each others' lives for the past three years. We hope and pray we brought as much to her life as she brought to ours πŸ’—.

07/31 - ⛅July Memories⛅
⛅ Cooking up produce from our garden and learning a valuable lesson about kitchen safety after a *small* kitchen fire πŸ”₯
⛅ Popsicles
⛅ Fireworks
⛅ Who's that weird bird?!?
⛅ Summer running club
⛅ Swimming
⛅ Visiting grandparents
The best summertime memory making! 🌞

08/04 - Last night was the final band concert of the season for the Claremore Civic Band. This was such a fun experience! Picking my trombone back up after all this time was not easy. I had to practice every day and still struggled to keep up at times (we learned a whole new set of music every two weeks). BUT - it was so rewarding to reignite an interest and use my brain in a way it hasn't been used in a long time. It was fun to get to know my band mates and laugh with them at each practice. It was exciting to get a little nervous before each concert and have to play through those nerves. 

Thank you to everyone who supported me through this venture by encouraging words, listening to my stories, and coming to watch us play. I'm already looking forward to next season!

08/07 - We casually started school at LIGHT Academy last week, in between working to make repairs to our play set after it sustained damage in a wind storm, a scavenger hunt with our running team, pool fun, Bri helping Amy in her classroom, and soaking in some beautiful sunsets. WE are thankful we get to work school around our life and not vice versa. I'll post our official first day of school photos soon . . . just as soon as I remember to take them! 😜

08/10 - LIGHT Academy is off and rolling for the 2023-2024 school year!

Brecklyn - 8 years old, 3rd grade
Brooke - 8 years old, 3rd grade
Brenson - 11 years old, 6th grade
Brianna - 13 years old, 8th grade
Chelley - homeschool momma and teacher, facilitator of daily activities
Chris - homeschool dad and LIGHT Academy superintendent

We are excited for a great year of LIGHT (Learning, Investigating, and Growing in His Time)!


08/12 - One of our favorite evenings of the year . . . Backyard Back-to-School Bash #5 is in the books! Even though the weather threatened to get a little crazy on us, it turned out to be a beautiful evening with lots of laughter and fun! Love these people who bless our lives!

08/20 - When a dear sister in Christ makes beautiful quilts for everyone in your family . . . perfectly catered to each of our interests and favorite colors! What a special gift!

08/23 - Ahhh, that Oklahoma sunset 😍

09/02 - Cross-country season has begun! Early morning practices and hill day at a new, fun location are helping us get stronger. I only had two racing yesterday because we are fighting a stomach bug in our house, but we have another race coming soon. Go Falcons! πŸƒπŸƒπŸƒπŸƒ

09/04 - As part of a unit on National Parks we are working through, the kids made these fun display boards that showcase the parks that are next on our list for a visit. I love how their projects reflect their personalities!

09/05 - "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness!"

09/06 - Doesn't everyone use the leg of a T-Rex skeleton to track as they do their Bible reading? No? πŸ˜‚πŸ¦–πŸ˜‚

09/08 - My girls brought me a pizza with extra garlic bread. They know just what their Momma likes! πŸ’œπŸ’—

09/09 - The Falcons showed up in Foyil this past week! It was Brooke and Brecklyn's first time on the course, and they both looked so strong on the hills. Brenson medaled and set a new course PR by 37 seconds. Brianna also shaved 37 seconds off her previous course time for a new PR. It is fun watching these kiddos run! πŸƒπŸƒπŸƒπŸƒ

09/12 - LIGHT Academy lately . . . 

πŸ’‘A beautiful day at the zoo with friends
πŸ’‘Learning about the amazing human body
πŸ’‘Cooking dinners and fun treats
πŸ’‘Tulsa Air & Space Museum
πŸ’‘An afternoon at Airtopia with friends
πŸ’‘After school fishing at the neighborhood pond
πŸ’‘Lots of outside play with the dirt and bugs

09/14 - That's a wrap on another Gospel meeting week. It was a wonderful time of spiritual growth, and I am reminded of how blessed we are to be part of God's family πŸ’œ.

09/22 - This girl was all ready to race today. After several lightening delays, the race was canceled just in time for a big storm to roll in and pour buckets ⛈. She's still smiling, though!

09/23 - My kids and hubby have lived in Oklahoma their entire lives, so when the sky started rolling and thundering tonight, they all went outside to see the storm. Because of course. They are Okies through and through! 🌧πŸŒͺ🌧

09/24 - When you show up at church accidentally twinning!

09/28 - 

πŸƒCross country meetπŸƒ

🦷Getting new dental appliances🦷

🐢Having friends over to visit, eat, and play with their pups🐢

Busy and blessed!

10/12 - No more metal in the mouth for this girl! The difference in her before and after pics is amazing!

10/14 - Last XC meet of the season before Homeschool Nationals. My runners looked strong today!

10/21 - Last night we had our Falcon team cookout and bonfire to celebrate cross-country season. We visited, ate, took rides in the little tractor, played kickball and frisbee, roasted marshmallows, and each of the kids received a funny gift from coach. It was the most beautiful autumn evening!

10/28 - We finished up another cross-country season today at Homeschool National Championships. This was our fourth XC season with the Falcons! It was cold and rainy, but our kiddos showed diligence and perseverance! Brooke and Brecklyn (8U) ran their first two mile race, and our 8U girls team won first place! Brenson (12U) ran two miles and passed another boy about 50 yards from the finish line. Brianna (14U) raced a 5K for the first time. The hills on this course are no joke, but the fall foliage was amazing as always! Way to go, Falcons! πŸƒπŸƒπŸƒπŸƒ

10/29 - We are in a different season of life now, but sometimes I'll come across something that will take me right back to those dark days of loss and fresh grief. This is one of those things. The grief is still there, just different now. But "the walk" . . . it really does change you forever. I'll always miss the four I didn't get to keep πŸ’›.

10/30 - One of the {many} things I love about homeschooling is the opportunity for my kiddos to learn from and teach one another. We're all learning together, and I love catching little moments like this. πŸ’™πŸ’œ

10/31 - I forgot to snap a group photo, no family picture, missed the good lighting, ran later than I intended, and felt frazzled when we got there. BUT - the kids had a great time, stocked up on the candy, and people watching was on point. Another successful year at Boologah!

11/01 - What a fun day at the pumpkin patch with these special friends! As seasons of life have changed, so have some of our friends. We are so thankful to still be doing life with this crew πŸ’›!

11/03 - Something exciting is happening soon! πŸ§³πŸšŒπŸ—»πŸ‘€

11/05 - Chasing Autumn 2023 - Day 1 & 2

We set out bright and early for Texas on Saturday morning, except it wasn't bright yet, only early 😊. We drove about 8 hours to Big Spring, Texas, to spend the night with our sweet friends who moved there about 10 months ago. It was lectureship weekend at their congregation, and we arrived in time to attend the two evening lessons with them. 

We ate a yummy dinner with them at their house, while the kids played and played and the adults caught up on life. We ended the day with a Bible study and lots of laughs. 

Sunday morning we attended church with them, then went back to their house for delicious sandwiches. It was so nice to share a simple meal before we drove the three minutes to Big Spring State Park to play and explore a little together before we had to leave town. The views of the desert from "the mountain" were amazing, and we all enjoyed the cacti. We even sampled some prickly pear juice straight from the cacti!

After a three hour drive that afternoon, we arrived in Carlsbad, New Mexico where we grabbed Wendy's for dinner and moved into our cute rental house. Adventure awaits, and we are eager to take it on!

11/06 - Chasing Autumn 2023 - Day 3

Guadalupe Mountains National Park was on the itinerary for today (Monday)! We drove almost an hour from where we had stayed in Carlsbad to the McKittrick Canyon trailhead. We were all amazed as the Guadalupe Mountains popped out of the desert plain!

The first portion of our hike was 2.5 miles to the Pratt Cabin. As the bright sun shone, we hiked on a rocky trail, crossed the wash several times (although we only saw a bit of water at two of the crossings), and admired the autumn foliage. 

From Pratt Cabin, we continued on the McKittrick Canyon Trail about a mile to the Grotto. The rock formations were fascinating, and the autumn colors were breathtaking! We ate lunch under the brightly colored trees, then hiked the 3.5 miles on rocky trail back to the trailhead. 

Our legs were pretty dead by the time we reached our vehicle, but the amazing desert views were worth it! We spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening in our little rental house. We cooked up a pot of chili for supper, and it really hit the spot after a day of exploration and hiking. 

11/07 - Chasing Autumn 2023 - Day 4

We were super excited to spend the day in Carlsbad Caverns National Park today, and it did not disappoint! There is truly no way to comprehend the majesty of the caverns until you experience them. 

After stopping at the visitor's center, we headed to the "natural entrance" of The Big Room. We descended approximately 750 feet (75 stories) into the cavern. A few of us had to take some deeeep breaths as we made our way along the windy path through the cavern.

After about two hours of exploring underground, we rode the elevator back to the surface and had lunch at the visitor's center. Then, we headed back down (via elevator this time) to take The Big Room self-guided tour (1.3 miles of cavern scenery). Photos don't even begin to show the enormity, depth, and intricacies of the cavern. 

On our way back to our rental house, we stopped in White's City for some souvenir shopping. The remainder of our afternoon and evening was spent relaxing at our rental, cooking a yummy supper, and watching a movie. 

11/08 - Chasing Autumn - Day 5

Today we took on the Devil's Hall Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This is a 4.2 mile round trip trail to Devil's Hall that is rated strenuous by the NPS. 

What makes this trail unique is that the first mile is fairly typical desert trail with just a little elevation change. The second mile and a bit, however, is challenging. The trail follows "the wash" that flooded a few years ago and was basically filled with boulders and uprooted trees by the flood. The NPS decided to leave the boulders all throughout that portion of the trail and just upgrade it from a moderate to a strenuous hike. 

As if boulder scrambling for a mile isn't enough, you also have to scale "the staircase" before scrambling a bit more to reach Devil's Hall. My legs were pretty fatigued today, and by the time we reached "the staircase" (photo 5 & 6), I almost broke down. My legs were shaky from the boulder scrambling, and I just didn't know if I could do it. 

However, after some encouragement from my children and husband, I scaled the terrifying staircase and we all made our way to Devil's Hall (photo 8). Whew.

The fall foliage was every bit as incredible as it looks in the photos. The experience of the hike was pretty amazing!

After finishing the hike, we drove a few hours to Artisia, NM for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, then continued on to Cloudcroft for the night. It was as dark as midnight by 5:30pm, so we weren't able to see much scenery on our way to Cloudcroft. We are anxious to see the Lincoln National Forest in the daylight tomorrow!

11/09 - Chasing Autumn - Day 6

We woke up in Cloudcroft, New Mexico this morning in our adorable condo and quickly noticed that it was SNOWING!!! To say we were excited is an understatement! ❄

Our plan for the day was to explore and sand sled in White Sands National Park. White Sands is about 4000 feet lower in elevation than Cloudcroft, so there was only rain there. However, it had stopped by the time we arrived, so we were able to carry on with our plans.

The white sand dunes were just amazing, and the kids had a blast sledding and playing in the sand. Chris and I lounged in our sand chairs under our tent so the sun wasn't beating down on us. But don't worry, we did our share of sledding, too. It was SO fun!

Around 1:30pm, the wind picked up and the sky turned dark. We decided to pack up and head out of the park as being sand blasted by the wind didn't feel good. On our way back to Cloudcroft (which is in the Lincoln National Forest), we made several stops to take in the scenery and buy apple pie!

We did a little souvenir shopping in the quaint "old town" Cloudcroft, then headed back to our condo before dark. We had a delicious dinner in our condo before watching a movie and relaxing for the evening. 

11/10 - Chasing Autumn - Day 7

It was snowing again in Cloudcroft this morning as we were getting packed up to hit the road for Texas. The view from our little condo was so beautiful and peaceful in the snow! We left our condo at about 9:00am to visit the Lincoln National Forest Ranger Station and Visitor's Center, but sadly it was closed in observance of Veteran's Day. As we continued to drive through the mountains, the snowfall became heavier. We finally just stopped at a pull-off and let the kids play in it. They had a blast!

We assumed the snowfall and cover would lighten up as we made our way from the mountains back into the desert, but we were wrong. It was so strange to see cacti and desert landscape covered in snow! We couldn't get over how beautiful it was, though!

We drove in heavy snowfall (like huge flakes and low visibility) for about 70 miles between Cloudcroft and Artisia. What a cool experience!

We had lunch in Artisia, then continued on to Lubbock, Texas for the night. We were all pretty exhausted once we got to the hotel, so we ate Cane's in our room while we watched animal shows on TV. We loved our unexpected adventure in the snow!

11/11 - Chasing Autumn - Day 8

Today's goal - HOME. We left Lubbock at 7:00am and headed east. We crossed into Oklahoma just in time for lunch, so we stopped at Braum's because that's what good Okies do 😁. We pulled into our driveway just before 3:00pm.

Our van was a disaster as usual after a trip, but this time we had the added fun of sand in and on everything from our day in White Sands. So much sand poured out of our tent when we set it up to air out that Brecklyn and Brooke were able to collect some πŸ˜‚.

Our trip was amazing, but it's always good to be home!

11/12 - Sand Sledding: A Story in Photos


Truly, we had a blast sledding the sand dunes at White Sands!!! And, no one was hurt in the making of this photo story 😁.

11/25 - We usually put quite a few lights and outdoor decorations up at our house during Christmastime, but Chris had surgery a week ago so I had already decided that this year we would skip the outdoor decorating. However, Bren knows the decorations make his momma happy, so he put out the front porch trees and yard displays for me πŸ’™. Bren is not super affectionate or long on words, but acts of service are definitely his love language. 

12/07 - Christmas music is playing, and my girls are helping me get some wrapping done by the light of the Christmas trees. This cherished time together is really different than it was 5-8 years ago when I had a houseful of littles, but these moments are pretty great, too! πŸ’–πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸŽ„πŸ’–

12/10 - Thankful for a great day with our church family! And will someone please tell me . . . how is my 11 year old about to be the tallest one in the family?!?

12/11 - πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸŽ„ Christmas movie night at the Nelsons - Miracle on 34th Street πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸŽ„

12/15 - The Sapulpa Route 66 Christmas Chute was great again this year! Meme and Papa went with us, and we even ran into friends. I've known Ms. Mozelle since I was about 10 years old πŸ’•. This is quickly becoming one of our favorite traditions!

12/16 - We've got a full day of volleyball and basketball today between regular seasons games and a tournament. I'm excited to be "that mom" cheering my kiddos on from the stands 😜! Go Lightening πŸ—²πŸ and Go Swish πŸ€!

12/18 - Tulsa Botanic Garden of Lights is a favorite tradition with some of our favorite people. The expansion this year made it better than ever! #tulsaoklahoma #tulsabotanicgarden #gardenoflights

12/23 - Christmas cookie baking crew!

12/25 - Merry Christmas from our home to yours! πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸŽ„

12/26 - This is a super fun game that our sweet neighbor (who passed away last summer) gave us last year for Christmas. We remembered her and had a blast playing. And, the kids did in fact "Beat the Parents" this time!!!

12/26 - Christmas Recap Part 1: 

πŸŽ„ Lots of family time
πŸŽ„ Game Playing
πŸŽ„ Laughter
πŸŽ„ Silliness
πŸŽ„ Traditions
πŸŽ„ SO much food
πŸŽ„ Blessed byond measure!

12/26 - Christmas Recap Continued . . . πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸ’–πŸŽ…πŸŽ„

12/29 - Family time, "throwed rolls", and Buc-ee's for the win today!

Wow! What a good year 2023 has been! 

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