Thursday, September 29, 2011

Freely give

Last night, Jacob had SWAT (students with a testimony) at church.  I had choir practice.  Afterwards, we met up to head home together.  As he climbed into the van, I asked how his night was.  He excitedly said, "I sent a kid in Guatemala to camp!"  Since I wasn't quite sure what that meant--I mean I'm dealing with a tween here and sometimes it seems he is speaking a language I don't understand--I asked for some clarification.  He went on to tell me that Ps. Grant told them about children in Guatemala.  He explained that although going to camp here can be expensive, that it only costs about $25 to send a child in Guatemala to camp.  So, Jacob told me that he put $31 in the offering.  Sidenote:  The extra dollar was so his buddy, who didn't bring any money to church, could give, too!

Needless to say, I was very impressed with his choice to give.  However, rather than praising him and going on and on, I felt that this was an opportunity, so I pressed in.  I asked Jacob what made him give.  He responded that he "just felt like" he should.  Oh, the sweet Holy Spirit!  I explained to him that the gentle nudging he was feeling was the Holy Spirit moving, and that by giving, he was being obedient to God.  My heart was so full, knowing that to our Jacob, that $31 was a big sacrifice.  Yet, he willingly and obediently gave.  And, with the smile on his face, I know he gave with a cheerful heart!  I told him about God's promise to give back to us, to bless us, when we give to His kingdom.  Being the funny kiddo that he is, he responded with, "I just hope that blessing doesn't come as another little brother or sister!"  And, of course for a boy who has been blessed with one or the other for the past 4 years, I can't really blame him!  :)

It's an wonderful thing to watch your children grow in the Lord.  Nothing could have made me happier--not straight As, not a perfect ballgame.  Knowing his heart is tender to God's voice is simply too much for words.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sometimes, it feels like I live with a bunch of turkeys!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

He's gonna be the death of me!

This kiddo... gonna be the death of me.

Since he was teeny-tiny, I knew he was trouble.  He's never had fear.  In his mind, the phrase, "you're too little" just doesn't apply to him.  Perseverance and an "I think I can" attitude are the hallmark of his little personality.  And keeping up with the big brothers, well that is a challenge he believes he is up for.  

Yesterday, Abel, Eli, and I were getting ready to head upstairs for naptime.  Holding Abel, I opened the gate at the bottom of the stairs only to realize that Abel's beloved "bunny bear" was still sitting in the middle of the living room floor.  Eli headed on up the stairs.  I put Abel down and trotted over to grab "bunny bear."  As I turned around, I realized Abel was no longer standing at the base of the stairs and felt that panic.  Mamas, you know what I mean.  I realized he followed Eli up the stairs.  Then, I saw it--a flash of orange tumbling down the stairs.  Oh, no!  Oh, my gracious!  I saw my baby log rolling down the last four stairs.   Now, I only stepped into the living room, so I cognitively knew that he couldn't have fallen from very far up the stairs, but my mama's heart was so shaken.  The "what ifs" started flying through my head.  I was planning the quickest route to the ER.  I was kicking myself for leaving him unattended.  I swept my crying baby up and held him close.  I quickly checked him over. He was fine--a little red mark on his nose, but he was fine!  Thank you, God, my baby was fine!  His mama, however, needed a little more time to be fine!  :)

Of course, being the little Abel that he is, he cried only briefly before trying to get down from my arms to climb the stairs once again!  I guess you can't keep a good toddler down!

Friday, September 23, 2011

One year older

Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday, dear Jacob

Happy Birthday to you!

Dear Jacob,  Happy birthday, Jakey!  Today you turn 12.  I didn't give you life, but I love you as if you were mine!  Every year I say that time is flying by, but it warrants being repeated.  Your childhood is quickly slipping away.  12 is that tricky age between childhood and the teenage years, where you're too old for some things and too young for others.  You are learning who you are and I pray that as you work on that discovery, you remember who you are in Christ--you are His child, His chosen one, and dearly loved.  Jacob, I want you to know that I am so proud of who you are choosing to be.  Your kindness and leadership with your little brothers is so heart-warming.  Your quirky sense of humor keeps me giggling.  Your respect for others is admirable.  Your joy is infectious.  Your thirst for knowledge is refreshing.  Your love is inspiring.  Jacob I am so grateful that you are part of our family and pray that this twelfth year is amazing, just like you!  Love!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hide and Seek

Ready or not... I come!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Let Him Eat Cake

Jacob's birthday isn't until this Friday, but one of the benefits of being in a blended family is the opportunity to celebrate special occasions multiple times.  So, the big 12th birthday celebration happened this past week at our home.  As is the annual tradition, Jacob asked for cheesecake.  He certainly got the "cheesecake lover" trait from his daddy, who makes that same request every February for his own birthday.  This year's request was a chocolate swirl cheesecake and I threw in a chocolate crust for good luck!  According to my boys, this cheesecake was a hit!!

Then, on Saturday, we celebrated with family and Jacob requested a carrot cake--I mean, he can't be expected to share the cheesecake, right?!?  So, I headed back into the kitchen.  I love to bake, but with my effort to lose weight, I haven't been baking at all.  This past week was a great time to get to enjoy baking, then being able to share the end product rather than having it tempt me from the kitchen.  I chose a new recipe that used baby food carrots and just 1/2 cup of shredded carrots.  It certainly was easier than the old recipe that had me shredding 3 cups of carrots!!  And, looking at Jacob's face in that picture, I think he was completely satisfied with the outcome!

Happy Early Birthday, Jacob!  We love you!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Caught, not taught?

Some days, I think all I do is train children.  Now, I don't want to complain, because the reward of hearing someone compliment my children on their behavior is worth every minute of training!  I firmly believe that it is my God-given responsibility to train my children and I do so purposefully.  However, recently I've been pondering the phrase, "values are caught, not taught."

I have big dreams for my children and many of them involve the type of men I want them to become. I want them to be honest, loyal, generous, respectful, sincere, kind, and disciplined.  More than anything, I want my boys to grow to be the amazing men that God has purposed them to be.

Boy, have I set myself up!  Expecting those things from my boys means that I must be prepared to model those same behaviors and attitudes.  I don't want to live in a home where the words, "Do as I say, not as I do" are a common phrase thrown around as an excuse.

Are values caught, not taught?  I think it's a little of both.  So, I am determined that not only will I train my children to be obedient, but I will strive to model those values that our family believes in.  And, since I know that they watch every. little. thing. I do, I know they'll see it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Diamonds are a boy's best friend--baseball diamonds

Fall is almost here and that means "fall" baseball.  This year, however, there was a time when we weren't so sure we'd be singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame!"  Jacob seriously considered going out for the middle school football team.  As much as we wanted to encourage him to pursue a new endeavor, secretly, was no hiding the fact that I wanted him to stick with baseball.  He's not a super big kid, and has never played tackle football before.  Not to mention, I just love baseball and he has so much experience since he's played for 10 seasons.  After much deliberation and soul-searching, Jacob decided to choose baseball!  This season he's on the Angels.  Many of the same boys from last season are on his team again.   They are having fun, even if they aren't winning.  Jacob has enjoyed the opportunity to play lots of positions already this season.  Just last night, he caught, played short stop, and center field.  He's also pitched.  I love that he's a flexible player and has the skills and quick thinking to play pretty much anywhere the coach puts him!  Here are a few pictures I took at last night's game!  

Let's go Angels!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I remember

Today, I went to church with my sweet family.  I remembered.  

Today, I talked to my mom on the phone.  I remembered.  

Today, I ran errands.  I remembered.  

Today, I went out to eat.  I remembered.  

Today, I played outside with my boys.  I remembered.  

Today, I baked pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.  I remembered.

So many others spent today remembering, too.  They remember those they lost in the terror attacks.  They remember those they lost as they fought to protect our country.   They remember surviving.

All that remembering could bring on fear, grief, even despair.  But, as a friend reminded me, even as we spend time remembering, we have this promise:
"My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:20-23

Today, I remember.  Today, I have hope!

Thank you, Lord, for your love, mercy, and faithfulness!  My hope is firmly planted in you!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

School Days-preschool edition

This past week, we embarked upon a new journey--homeschool preschool. Before my homemaking days, I taught preschool students on the autism spectrum.  Can I just say that I love the early years!?!  Toddler and preschool aged children are so excited about learning and discovering.  Their little minds are like sponges and their questions never cease.  I know the benefits of early education, so I really want to provide that for my children.  At this point, homeschool preschool is the best fit.

I am schooling in a very flexible manner.  Each weekday afternoon, we do a circle time with a story, the calendar activities, and a Bible memory verse.  Then, Eli does four workboxes at the table.  While Eli is working, Abel is playing with learning toys at the table, and I can be involved with both of them.  One of my favorite aspects of this setup is knowing that if we want to visit PaPa and Mema, or have a "field trip" to the park or Farmer's Market, then we just don't have school that day.  No big deal!

School got off to a great start this week.  Here are a few pictures from our first week of "school"!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tropical Storm Eli

BREAKING NEWS:  Tropical Storm Eli made landfall in the front yard after naptime.  The storm came in just east of the natural area with strong winds that battered anything not secured down.  These are the images captured as Tropical Storm Eli toppled the play tent.

Fortunately, as you can see from the picture, there were no injuries.  After surveying the damage, cleanup began.  With everyone pitching in, it wasn't long until a sense of normalcy was returned to the front yard, where playing resumed and everyone was all smiles!  

Around here, you just never know what the weather will be...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My 3 Sons...

...are such an amazing blessing!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Little Brothers

It's fall baseball time again and Jacob is back out on the field.  On game days, the little brothers anxiously await game-time.  Jacob gets geared up, we pack up the "little boy baseball stuff," load up in the van, and head on over to the baseball complex, where we meet up with Jacob's mom, stepdad, and his other siblings.  While we try to enjoy watching Jacob and his team play, the little brothers (all of them) attempt to distract us with their "games" and shenanigans--not to mention the little sister who tries to distract us with her unbelievable cuteness.  It is a bat-swinging, running and chasing, ball-throwing, lollipop-licking, rolling in the grass and dirt good time!!  Here are a few pictures that Jacob's mom captured on a recent game-night and shared with me!    Baseball and little brothers...a match made in heaven!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Reunited and it feels so good

Everyday, the little boys anxiously await Jacob's return from school.  Since we are usually outside in the afternoon anyway, we often head up the street to meet him as he walks home from the bus stop.  Once they spot him coming over the top of the hill on our street, they take off to meet him.  Eli stays so obediently in the grass...Abel, well, lets just say we still have some work to do on street safety!  Nonetheless, my heart just overflows watching this happen.  Parenting these boys and watching their relationships change and grow truly is a blessing!

"A brother is a friend given by nature."  ~Jean Baptiste Legouve

Friday, September 2, 2011

As a homemaker, I have so many opportunities to make the decision to answer "yes" or "no" to the questions posed by my little ones (and the big ones, too).   Just a few examples...
  • "Can I have a moon pie?"  
  • "Can we play in the water table?"
  • "soos" (translation:  "Mama, will you put my shoes on my feet and take me outside, please?"  
  • "Will you take us to see the horses?"  
  • "Will you put the tent up?"  
  • "Can you play catch?"
  • "Wanna play men with me?"
  • "soos"...again
  • "Can I wear my Cubbies vest?"
  • "buh" (translation:  "Will you read this book to me, please?"
  • "Can we build with the couch cushions?"
  • "Can I serve myself?"
  • "soos"...yet, again
I really could go on and on, but I'll spare you.  

Disclaimer:  I feel that before I go, I must clarify that I don't believe  in being a "yes-man".  Of course, children need to learn to deal with the word "no".  And, certainly there are times when "no" is the right and only response to a child--"Can I play with the lighter?" or "Can I play tackle football with my baby brother?" are obviously answered with a firm "no."  

But, what about the "inconvenient questions"--the questions that would take more time, make a bigger mess, require MUCH more patience on my part, and/or simply would have me stop whatever grown-up activity I'm involved with to make it happen?  It's those questions that I'm addressing today.  Do I take the easy road?  Am I hesitant to say "yes" due to a selfish reason? I have to answer that?

I want my kiddos to have a mom that says, "yes!"  I want them to remember a childhood filled with happiness, messiness, fun, and adventure all involving their mom.   So, starting today, I'm going to say "yes!" and it's going to be fun.  Won't you join me and say, "yes," too?