Friday, December 9, 2016

Family Photos by Cortney Russell Photography

Forest's birthday is perfect timing for getting family pictures done in time for Christmas Cards. This year we hired Cortney Russell and actually did a separate photo shoot for his birthday featuring his art theme and then did another portion of the shoot where it was the four of us. This year may be the last year Samson gets to be in our pictures (though I said that last year so I'm not counting him out! That little pup is proving all his vets wrong.) I thought Forest would finally be cooperative since he's mellowed out considerably lately, but both he and Samson were totally naughty and made our photographer work for her money. 

The art idea was super cute and got Forest to stay still, but unfortunately he took it so seriously that he couldn't be bothered to look up at the camera much.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

National Bible Bee

You’ve all heard of spelling bees, but have you heard of a Bible Bee? It’s a similar concept except in a Bible Bee kiddos from 7-17 learn entire passages from the Bible in addition to learning the context and even some of the original language of the selected excerpts. Anyway, it’s incredible, inspiring and impressive and my sister’s two oldest boys both qualified to compete this year. 

Since the competition was being held in nearby (by Texas standards) San Antonio and I hadn’t seen my sister or her boys in over a year I decided to take Forest and join them at JW Marriot Resort in the Hill Country. The resort is home to a beautiful golf course and a pretty impressive water park.  Unfortunately the first cold front of the season was scheduled to come through during our stay but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the water while we could. 

Since it was the off season, the lifeguards turned a blind eye to the fact that Forest was technically too short to ride the big slides an let my dad accompany him. No surprise here but Forest LOVED racing his big boy cousins down the twin slides. 

He also had a blast swimming the lazy river. We tried to explain to him the purpose of a lazy river is to just relax and float but he simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to swim at lightning speed. 

Whatevs. Fortunately my dad and two eldest nephews had him covered so I didn’t have to chase after him and could just hang out with my sis and her littlest boy. 

Oh did I mention my sister is the mom of 4 boys and has another baby on the way? She’s pretty much amazing. 

After an hour or so of fun it was time to get cleaned up and dried off for dinner and Forest and I hit the sack early while my sis and her family attended Bible Bee festivities late into the night. Early the next morning we gathered to hear the announcement of the top 15 semi-finalists. We were over the moon (but not at all shocked) to hear that 10 year old Corbin had been selected to compete in the next round. 

We were also so proud of 7 year old Lucas who performed incredibly for this being his first time around! This meant some serious studying for Corbin while the rest of us headed back to the waterpark to enjoy the temporarily sunny skies. 
This time we had the two 3-year-old cousins and Lucas so mainly stayed at the kiddie pool where Forest and Andrew were easily watched. Andrew is thankfully less confident (ie crazy) in the water than Forest so I was only responsible for keeping one kid from going overboard. 
Forest had a blast again and thankfully Lucas was a good sport about hanging out with the younger boys while his usual partner in crime was reviewing his Bible verses. 

The front rolled in quickly as we were getting out of the pool so we all headed in for a power nap before the semi-finals at 2:30. Corbin did amazing in the semi-finals and sailed through to the final round. Top 5! We were ecstatic and so proud. It was like being related to a rock star. Everyone attending the Bible Bee had these big lanyards so were easily identifiable. Everyone would ask if I had a child competing and when I’d say ‘No but my nephew is a finalist’, they’d ask his name and they’d be like ‘OH! CORBIN!’. He was the only boy in the top 5 for his age group so he did sort of stand out. 
In between rounds we had tons of fun exploring the resort grounds with family.

Only 4 weeks apart, these cousins couldn't be more different.

Room service and Super Why. Life is good.

The finals were the following morning so the superstar was off studying for the remainder of our trip. Forest and I had to pick Samson up from the kennel by a certain time that evening so I knew we had to leave as soon as the finals were over. They lasted 2.5 hours. Forest was a trooper, and I bit through my nail beds out of nerves for all the kids. How they remained so poised and confident under that sort of pressure I will never understand. 

In the end, Corbin was announced as the winner of the whole sha-bang! We were whooping and hollering and so proud of our boy. 

He’s such a special kid and truly brilliant but I know he also put in hours upon hours of studying and his parents do an amazing job of constantly redirecting him to the Lord. What an awesome way to use that brain of his, memorizing scripture which will forever be imbedded in his heart and soul. Plus he won $25,000!!! 

I’m telling you, it’s a huge deal!