Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our First Family Snow Adventure

So I'm sure after reading the title you all must think that we are crazy to have ventured out to the snow with three little boys four and under and me fifteen weeks pregnant with our fourth. Well, think we're crazy because...we did it and it was so, so much fun! Our wonderful friends have a family cabin up near Lake Tahoe and they asked us and another family to join them for a few days of fun in the snow. Of course we signed up right away knowing it would be crazy and hectic but hey, it's crazy and hectic at home so why not add in a bit more chaos and have a good time too!!

We left the day after Christmas and finally made it up to the cabin around midnight. When three families of little children are all traveling together it can make for a long trip due to multiple stops and such. But we made it. Babies were nursed. Children were taken to the bathroom and the Dads even got to have a stop at In-n-Out to get some fuel to keep driving. When we arrived, all of us moms were busy getting the sleepy children into their beds while the Dads all unloaded the cars. Luckily, everyone went back to sleep fairly well, us moms organized all the food and meals brought up and the Dads got to drink a beer and hang out in the freezing cold to "cool off" after unloading everything. It was a perfect start to our trip.

The next day us parents got lucky that everyone slept in a bit and then it was off to start our day. The older kids took a hike out in the forest and played in the snow. Joshua only lasted about fifteen minutes outside. He was just too cold and didn't like being bundled up like a mummy. So he and I went back to be with the other smaller ones. The rest of the day was spent playing with the Wii, playing cars, shooting nerf guns and just being together with friends. After all the kids went to bed, us parents played a game of Scrabble and our friends quickly found out that my husband LOVES games and he's quite good at them!

The next day we ventured out closer to Tahoe to go sledding. We had a great time. However, there were a few snafus. For one, there wasn't any indoor area and all three of us moms had little ones who just couldn't be out in the freezing, snowy cold for hours on end. After about two hours Joshua just wouldn't stop crying. He was miserable. The older boys were cold too and so after much deliberation, Steve and I decided since it was late in the afternoon, we better head back to try and get Joshua a little bit of a nap. We also weren't able to make it up to the sledding area until lunch time making it a very late afternoon. So everyone got hungry and tired pretty quickly. But even with these set-backs sledding was still fun and we had a good time. The other two families stayed for another hour or so and then came home. It was also snowing a lot for the few hours while we were there so it was fun to see the snow fall. It just got pretty cold!

The next day we went out to breakfast and then headed home. However, we made a few stops on the way. We stopped to visit my grandmother in Pleasanton who is in Assisted Living. She is so sweet but she has Alzheimer's and has no idea who I am anymore. She did love seeing us though and especially loved the kids. We'll have to see her again soon. Then we stopped in San Jose to meet my new nephew who was born while we were gone. My brother Jason and his wife Theodora just had their first son on Sunday, December 27th named Christos. He was 6 lbs 7 oz and 19 1/2 inches. He is just beautiful. After seeing them it was time to hit In-n-Out one more time before heading home. We finally pulled in right at bedtime and threw everyone in bed. We were all exhausted! But we had such a good time.

Some of the funniest parts of the trip were managing all nine children, three families and all of the different schedules. Fortunately we are all very close friends and so we know each other well making it easy to navigate through the craziness. But trying to pack up, dress, feed, herd and direct nine little children (3 four-year-olds, 3 2-year-olds, and 3 babies...15 months, 8 months and 2 months) was quite a feat and to be honest, we were all surprised that we got as much sleep as we did. It was really a good time. And even though we'll have another little one next time, we're already signed up for next year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Time

For the fourth time in five years, I've come to the point where I need to hang up my shoes and cease running for awhile. I knew it was going to come at some time I just didn't really know when. But my body has been showing signs of needing to slow down after I've gone on a few relatively easy and short runs lately and so I figure it must be time.

Running to me is like an old companion. I've been doing it regularly since junior high (except for a period of time in college when I stopped for awhile). Sometimes it takes a bit to break your shoes back in but after a short period of time, your feet fly again, your heart races and the wind runs through your hair giving a sense of freedom and stress relief that no other exercise can--at least for me. But for now, it's on hold. Once again, my body must rest, gain strength, and nurture a little one inside. It's time for less strenuous activities. It's time to walk again.

But soon enough, I know that once I've rested and once this new little one has come, I'll somehow find the time to run. Because to me, there's nothing like an early morning run when it's cold outside and the sun is showing all His glory in bright pinks, purples and bursting yellows. These are the mornings that help me get through the day caring for my children. For when I've emptied myself physically and spent time in God's creation learning, knowing and seeing who He is, I feel like it's a new day and I can keep going. Running off frustrations and worries and filling my mind with good things, always keeps me headed in the right direction. It's also one of the only times I get to be by myself to think, reflect and to pray.

But there are seasons in life and like many seasons before, it's time. Soon enough I'll feel this little one rolling around inside and sooner than I know I'll be holding this baby in my arms. And when I feel strong enough again, I'll pull those shoes back on, step out into the day and feel that familiar urge inside to go and pound the pavement.

For now it's time. But soon enough, I'll be back.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No longer five...

......But six! That's right folks. It's time to announce to the blogging world that we are expecting our fourth child at the end of June! Don't ask me if it was planned because, was planned by the Lord and so we're excited! I officially hit 13 weeks today and I'm feeling much, much, MUCH better. My goodness, with each pregnancy it gets a bit harder to keep up with everything, especially in the beginning and near the end. The nausea hit me pretty hard this time (for me at least) so coupled with that and major fatigue, I've been pretty out of it for the last three months. Poor Steve literally carried me to bed almost every night for a long time as I'd fallen asleep on the couch after the boys went to bed! But God is so faithful and I have an amazing husband, so we've all pulled through just fine.

Sorry I haven't been blogging much. I'll back in the swing here pretty soon! Also, as you can see from the stellar pictures that my four-year-old took, my belly is already out there at 13 weeks! Wow...the body just sticks out faster and faster every.single.time!! Good thing my jeans still fit although it won't be long!

I can't believe that in a few short months we'll be a family of six. Good thing we planned ahead and got a car that seats 8! Go Honda Pilots!! Wow...I'm not sure how I'm going to handle all of it but I know God will give me wisdom and tons of strength. It's good to be weak and not know what we're doing anyway. "Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God." Is. 50:11 b Amen and amen. We thank God for blessing us yet again. To God be the glory.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Pockets are really a wonderful thing for a mom. Without them I would be totally unorganized. All throughout the day I might find a piece to a game, a toy that needs to be put with a set, a piece of trash or something of the sort and I usually don't have time to put the particular item away at that time. One of the major culprits right now is anything small because Joshua eats anything he can get his hands on and so I find myself picking up paper clips, pennies and bouncy balls--all in the name of safety you know. But then, someone starts crying, needs a hug, correction, food, water, to go to the bathroom...and the list goes on and I usually can't make it to put the item I just found away. So I just stick it in my pocket and I can put it away at my leisure. It's kind of like my own little middle pile that doesn't dirty up the ground. At least in theory that's how it's supposed to go.

And then it comes to be laundry day and I clean out my pockets and find screws, change, bobby pins, Hershey Kiss wrappers (did I really eat all those?), erasers and nerf gun bullets. And that's just a start. Then I think to myself that my system probably isn't working but, like a creature of habit, I just sort through what I can, pile the rest up on the dryer and put the stuff away as I get time. The funniest part is when I clean out my pockets in front of my husband and he just looks at me so strangely when I start pulling out all sorts of foreign objects. I give him that knowing look and tell him "Don't ask!" He never does.

Yeah...I think pockets are absolutely indispensable. If I didn't have pockets I'd never be able to find all of those long lost pieces and the baby would probably be choking on small items on a regular basis.

To whoever invented the pocket idea, a big "Thank you!" from all of us moms who use them faithfully.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Running Water

So after writing my last post about work and romanticizing about living the life of a pioneer, I am humbled and reminded once again how I am completely unprepared for such a life and am a totally spoiled American. We've been without running water for three days and just an hour ago got back up and running (literally) and it has been quite the adventure. Now, I will say, that if I wasn't accustomed to water running out of my faucet on a whim or my toilets flushing when I want them to, then I may have adjusted a bit better. I really did try my best, but having no running water for a family of five can be a bit challenging.

I mean you need water to wash dishes, clothes and faces never mind the toilet flushing. And for us, when our water goes out, it means we don't have drinking water since we drink water from our fridge. Luckily, we have family nearby and so my dear hubby could take a shower at his brother's house down the road and then was able to fill up numerous water bottles at their house too (thanks guys!!) to get us through each day. Even though this was a mini crisis, I was determined to try and stick things out without going and spending a TON of money on paper plates and water from the store. However, if it would've gone on much longer, I wouldn't have been able to avoid it especially since my dear little Caleby ended up getting a rather high fever right smack dab in the middle of the madness.

Nevertheless, the water is on. It is hot when we need it to be and it no longer runs brown. Lucky for us, there was a major storm last night that dumped a ton of mud into the broken pipe so all that mud and sand had to come out this afternoon before I could use the water. But it's crystal clear now and we're back in business.

My best friends on this three day journey were a spray bottle full of water that I could use to wipe things down since I didn't have a wet rag, lots of paper towels and the best tool of all--baby wipes. Those things are good for everything from wiping dirty dishes, to cleaning dirty rear ends. Thank God I had a HUGE box full of those!

And tonight, after all three boys are in bed, I am taking a nice, long, HOT shower and I'm not coming out for well...a long, long time! And I will very much look forward to brushing my teeth and washing my face.

Thank God for running water.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So lately my boys and I have been reading through Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, Farmer Boy, where she very skillfully gives a beautiful snapshot of her husband's childhood growing up on a farm. If any of you are like me, I absolutely loved her books when I was a child and read them over and over and over and over again. I was delighted to start reading them to my boys.

One of the things that has hit me very hard in reading this wonderful little book has been the intensity with which these people worked. I mean, it is inspiring. From dawn until dusk they worked, taking care of animals, milking, threshing, planting, hoeing, hauling water, making everything they owned from clothes to shelter. It really is quite amazing.

And then I think of myself running my little dishwater, cleaning up tiny messes, putting my clothes in my washer machine, and buying all of my food pre-packaged at the store...and I think, "I have absolutely NOTHING to complain about ever!" I have it so easy compared to how these people lived. I have modern medicine that saves my children when they have a bad cold. I have stores I can visit to buy clothes rather than having to sheer the sheep and weave cloth to sew my own. I have water and electricity. Wow! Then why is it that our generation (myself definitely included) complains that we work too hard? How can this be when we obviously don't? Getting dinner on the table should seem like a piece of cake!!

I have been giving this some thought and I don't know that I've come to any amazing conclusions, however, one thing I do know, is that the way in which people used to work was good and I really think we've lost a lot in our modern advances. That's not to say that we can't be thankful for them and that we haven't gained anything but I do think we've given up a lot. Families worked together because they had to. They didn't complain much and everyone just pulled their weight. Why? Because they had to in order to survive. Children knew how to work from the time they were small and they felt useful, a part of the team. Truly, we've lost a lot there.

And I've been wondering, how can I, in the midst of all the wealth that surrounds our life, teach my little boys how to work when there's so little we all have to work for anymore? I mean, they help do dishes, set the table, sort laundry and stack wood with their Dad and Grandpa, but what about hard, everyday work? Where can I find this for them because when they grow up, they'll have to work for their families and I want them to be used to working from the time they're small. Playing is great and they do a ton of that, but real, hearty work is what they need and sometimes I look around and I'm at a loss.

How do I teach hard work in this modern world? I know it's possible. And we can't just go back to living on the farm because that's just not very realistic either. But we must find a way to translate the benefit of work to our children. It's so important. I guess one thing I can do is to stop doing everything for them and let them do much more themselves. It's hard to do this because they still do need so much help with many things. And sometimes I just want the kitchen swept or the counters cleaned quickly so we can move on. But maybe I should slow down a bit and let them do it, even if it's not perfect. Maybe if I just started there we could be on our way. I'm optimistic that it can be done but it will take much more effort than previous generations where it was just built in. It will take a lot more thought but it's so, so important.

Any ideas? How do you get your children working?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


So I've been avoiding writing about this because, well it's just downright embarrassing, that's why!! I mean, I haven't felt quite this humiliated in a really long time and now I'm about to admit it to the world by posting it on the world-wide web. I don't really know what I'm thinking...but here it goes. I guess a little bit of confession is good for the soul even if it makes me look absolutely crazy.

The week before we went to San Luis Obispo I lost my wallet somehow. I'm still not really sure how it all happened. You're probably thinking, "How do you not know how you lost your wallet?" I know people. I've NEVER lost my wallet before. NEVER! And then all of the sudden we need milk and I go to the store to pick up a few things. My items are being checked through and I start to search my purse for my wallet. It's suddenly nowhere to be found. I start to panic but then assure myself that it must be in the car. I run to the car (as fast as I can with three little boys in tow) and search the entire car top to bottom...nothing. Absolutely nothing! I do find my checkbook though and run back inside to pay for my half-finished Diet Coke (I humiliating!) and the rest of my groceries. Good thing I had that checkbook.

I search all over my house and it isn't anywhere. I can't even remember the last time I used the wallet. I use cash for groceries so I really don't use my bank card that much except for gas and stuff. So who knows? I am befuddled as I have no recollection of where it could possibly be. Later that day, my sister-in-law calls and says that her car had been recently broken into and her wallet was stolen. Hmmmm...she lives up the street. That could be what happened to my wallet but really, I'll never know. It's never surfaced again.

So you get the point. My wallet is gone and I found out in a humiliating way. But this is nothing to what was to come. I had to stop all of my cards, well really only one. I only have a bank card. And then I had the lovely task of trying to replace all of my medical cards, insurance cards, Costco card and of course the lovely driver's license.

So flash forward to San Luis Obispo. I lost my wallet just days before having to depart for SLO and I just had to go. I couldn't get in to the DMV before leaving and I was just praying I wouldn't get pulled over. I think I saw at least ten cop cars on the way down. I'm telling you...scary!! I wasn't trying to break the law, it was just an unfortunate circumstance. So once I get to San Luis Obispo, Debbi Weeks (who we're staying with and my mentor for nearly ten years now) encourages me to stop in at the DMV and see if I can do anything about my license. She graciously offers to occupy the children for the forty-five minutes I'll need to wait to be seen...what an angel!

I wait for what seems like ages but really, I didn't have an appointment so I deserved it I guess. I was so bored I was trying to guess what number they were going to call next based on the pattern. What I discovered was that they weren't calling my line of numbers at all (the G's) but only the B's and the H's. For every five B's they'd call ONE G. I ended up getting so frustrated I stopped paying attention and eavesdropped on the conversation going on between two college girls in front of me. Total drama but at least it was a little bit more entertaining.

Finally I'm called to the front and I expect to pay my money, give my paperwork and get out of there!! But the DMV guy cheerfully announces that it's nearly time to renew my license and so I better just do that rather than have to do it in a few months. Okay...I ask what needs to be done and he mentions it's not a big deal. All right...let's do this. I've got three kids all four and under waiting in the car with their adopted grandma and it's almost been an hour. Give it to me. And let's do this.

We start with the eye exam. Perfection. I can definitely see. I jump through a few other hoops and then he announces that I was chosen to take a written test and that if I could just step over to the other line, I'd be on my way to getting my new license. What?! A written test! I haven't taken a written test since I was 15 and I sure haven't studied. And didn't I just remind him that I had three little boys waiting in the CAR!?

I smile and politely walk over to the other line while seething inside. But at this point, I am determined to leave with the license, written test or not. I get my 18 questions and get started. The first question went something like this, "When is the road the wettest? 5 minutes after it started raining, 15 minutes after it started raining, or after it stops raining?" WHAT?! What does this have to do with driving? Why are they asking me about the weather? And on it went with one ridiculous question after another. Did you know that it's illegal to smoke while driving with a minor in the car? Hmmm...neither did I because well, I DON'T SMOKE! I wouldn't think it'd be a great idea but I didn't know there was a law about it. And I also do not drink much so do I know the legal alcohol limit? NO! I have been driving for nearly fifteen years and there is hardly a traffic question on the test. Give me a traffic question and I bet I'll know it but no, a bunch of questions about rainy weather, obscure laws and that made up my test. I simply do the best I can without studying one bit and hand my test back in.

The lady gives me a knowing nod and quickly grades my test. I could tell by her eyes that I didn't pass. Luckily she was the nicest lady around because she gestures me to come close and tells me, "You missed two too many but I know you have kids in the car and that you're in a hurry. Why don't you do these two on the back and if you get them right, I won't make you retake the test." That was the best news I had heard all day. My humiliation quickly turned to gratitude and I very hastily pounded out those two questions. A few minutes later, I got to take my picture and I walked out of there with my temporary license!!

I'll never know why I was chosen to take that test. My sister-in-law didn't have to do one and she's the same age as me. I have a perfect driving record with no accidents or tickets. Why me? I never knew that a lost wallet could cause me such trouble. However, thank God, it still all worked out and I didn't have to go back and re-take the silly "driving" test.

So all of you be warned...if you have to go in for a renewal, you better dig out your old Driver's Ed books and do a little studying. You just never know if they will put you on the spot and make you take a written test. Take it from want to pass. It's humbling to have been driving for so long and not to pass. It's like I said before, downright embarrassing.

So there it is. You can laugh all you want. I didn't pass. But then a lady had grace on me and I did pass. And really, in the end, I guess that's all that really matters. Once I got back to the car, I thanked Debbi profusely and checked on the boys. They had all waited so well! We got frozen yogurt with "sprinklers" to reward them for their exceptional behavior and to celebrate my license renewal. Who knew there'd be anything to celebrate? I don't think I'll ever take my license for granted again!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Half

Yesterday morning I had the amazing opportunity to participate in my first-ever competitive race by running in the Big Sur Half Marathon. Now when I say it was an opportunity, it really was. I am not sure how many of you remember but I trained for a 10K last summer and ended up getting a really bad case of the flu right before the race (probably was the swine flu) and all of my training went out the window because I couldn't participate. Or so I thought. After that race came and went, my running buddy and I decided, since we were already close to halfway ready having trained for the 10K, that we'd sign up for the Big Sur Half Marathon in November. I knew that I had to hold the race loosely but still train hard. And so we did. We spent our weeks doing relatively decent shorter runs and then on Saturdays we did our long run and added on a mile each week.

First of all, I must say that there is NO way that I could've done this Half Marathon without my husband and my mom. Every Saturday for the past three months Steve has gotten up very early and taken the screaming, crying baby Joshua, who was very upset his mom was leaving, and watched him until his brothers woke up an hour later. Usually at that point, if Josh was still pining for me, he'd at least be distracted by Isaac and Caleb! And every week he did it with a smile. He also came home early one day a week so that I could do a maintenance run on a weekday. And my mom, who comes out once a week for a few hours, watched the boys for me during my other maintenance run. With the boys and such I could only pull of three runs a week, with other exercise on the off days but those runs were enough to get me through and get me ready.

Cary, my running buddy, and I started off the run just like usual, side-by-side, and I stayed with her until Mile 9. It was the most beautiful morning on the coast in Monterey and it was relatively cool making it a perfect time to run. Cary is a much better runner than me (she's run in marathons before) and so, at Mile 9 I told her to go on as I knew I had to keep a tad bit of a slower pace than her if I wanted to finish strong. She ended up finishing just minutes before me. I'm so proud of her! She's a mom of two boys and her husband's a football coach...and she trained right through football season! Talk about dedication!!

Before the race, I never knew if something would come up like an injury or illness, or if it would all work out but, it did and I actually got to experience being in a big race! It was so fun! I got to participate, I never stopped and I was pretty happy with my time. I had really hoped to beat 2 hours even if it was only by a few seconds but...I ended up with a time of 2 hours and 22 seconds. Maybe next time. It was a lot of fun, very challenging and exhilarating. Hopefully I can do it again sometime in the future!!

One of the best parts was coming through the Finish Line and seeing all of my boys waiting for me. Evidently they saw me cross the Finish Line but I didn't see them. I was too focused and there were so many people!! But I saw them soon after and it was so special to me to have them there. I tried to take a picture with all of them but the sun was in their eyes and they weren't too you can see.

As a mom, it was really amazing for me to have this opportunity because my life just isn't my own anymore and that's okay. But every once in awhile, if I get to accomplish something like this that's just something I enjoy's really just icing on the cake. It's a blessing. And I'm so thankful!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eight Years Ago...

It was eight years ago this evening that my husband asked me to be his wife. I remember that it was Veteran's Day and had been pouring all day long. The rain had just stopped (much to my husband's delight) and so we trudged out to our spot at Montana de Oro, where we had our first kiss a few months earlier. Steve brought his guitar, we sang some worship songs and we were literally the only people on the cliffs. It was absolutely beautiful and the sun was setting. Before I knew it, he dropped down on one knee with a beautiful diamond ring in his hand and asked me, ME to be his wife. It still takes my breath away when I think about it.

We met young and married young. But these years with Steve have been the best in my life. They haven't always been easy and we've had to wade through trials. And I'm sure we haven't even seen the worst of them yet. However, I know that as long as I have his hand and that if we keep our eyes on the Lord, we'll make it. God will give us grace and we'll make it despite ourselves. And during these years, we've had so many joys. You see the little faces of our precious children dotting the pages of this blog. What joys they are to us.

Eight years ago I made a promise and I'm grateful. I was scared. I didn't know how it was all going to go. But I knew that I serve a BIG God who gives love and grace and mercy to all who ask. And really, I've learned and continue to learn that it's not about marrying the perfect, right person because they just don't exist. And who am I to think that I don't have any faults either that someone would have to put up with?'s about allowing God to make me into a better person, who is better able to love another and give up my selfishness, and I can't do that without being changed to be more like Christ...and I can't do that without God's help. It simply comes down to a choice and that choice started eight years ago tonight.

First he chose me and then I said "Yes!!" Saying, "Yes!!" that evening eight years ago has been the best thing I've ever done. And when I really think about it, it's just like Christ did for me. He chose me first. He loved me first. And then He pursued me. Why? Because of His great love for me. "...Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace...In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses..." Ephesians 1:4-7

Marriage. The gospel. Marriage is a perfect picture, an earthly mirror. A mystery. Yet, it speaks of God's redemption, relentless grace and radical love. If we can, with God's help, live our marriages like the gospel, then the world will see Him and many will come to know Him.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Getting Messy

Lately my two oldest children have been begging me to let them do Play Dough. Aaaaahhh! I thought they had forgotten we even had that stuff. Whenever I get the play dough out it inevitably ends up in hair, on clothes and stuck into the carpet no matter what I do to try and keep it contained. And frankly, that in itself drives me crazy not just the clean-up that has to happen afterward. I usually have to sweep for what seems like decades to get all of those bright, cheery colors that are polka-dotting my floor up.

So whenever they mention the word, I usually ignore them, switch the subject and try and interest them in something else. What a great mom I am huh!! I just have to maintain some sort of order and adding a messy craft into the mix is not my idea of fun. I have three little boys that are making messes all day long! I have to sweep three to four times a day and vacuum often just to keep a semblance of "clean" in my home. It's either that or we'll all be walking through the kitchen and getting last night's dinner stuck on the bottom of our feet! It's not that I'm trying to be so anal, but that I have to have some sort of standards right?!!

But then, Isaac my 4 year old who is like a mirror, said to me the other day, "Mom, you ALWAYS say 'No' to play dough and we never get to play with it." Okay, all right, major guilt. He's right. It's always amazes me how God uses my children to convict me of my sin (usually selfishness) faster than reading through a Proverb. Not that I shouldn't read the Bible, but I daily get reminders from my growing children when I do something wrong (am short with them, or angry) and if I'm not quick to confess, then what am I teaching them about sin, forgiveness, confession and most of all grace? I'm teaching them that I expect them to obey and admit when they're wrong but that I don't live by those standards myself-making me a hypocrite! Being a Mom can be so hard sometimes and so humbling!

So we've been getting messy and as much as it irks me sometimes, it's good for me. It stretches me and reminds me that I am daily to lay down my life for my family. So I'm picking up my cross, cleaning up the mess, trying to do it all with joy, handing out grace, asking God to fill in the gaps and realizing how much letting my children do things they enjoy, even when it's an inconvenience to me, molds me into more of what God wants me to look like. Sort of like play dough.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Morning Exercise

Just another morning at the Dauphin House. Of course, the latest fad has been to throw all of Mom and Dad's pillows onto the ground making a little landing pad to then launch themselves off of the bed at full speed. Josh has even gotten into the act a little (by accident of course) and has had a few falls off the bed! I want to be flexible and let them be boys but....I don't like having my bed messed up five times a day. Even though I do make them help me clean up. Hmmmm....but they're still pretty cute. Wow I love those boys so much!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Problem Solved

So one of the long-standing vices in my marriage has been over laundry. Don't get me wrong, it's not been a huge fight and really I've conceded much over the years. Nevertheless, as an aside, don't ask my husband about ironing and how inconsistent and horrible I am at that!! I'm still growing in this area. And he has been very, very patient with me. So we all have our strengths and weaknesses.

However, when it comes to my husband putting clothes into the hamper, there have been some problems. It's not that he doesn't get them in there, it's that he doesn't put them in the right one. Now I can kinda see how it could be confusing. We have two and they're never the same. It's not that the right one is always whites and the left is always darks. And for that I am to blame. It's just whatever gets in there first begins that pile and it stays that way until laundry day. I haven't seemed to have a problem with it much, occasionally I can get it wrong, but maybe that's because I'm usually the one starting the piles anyway. But often, the darks hamper will end up with whites in it and vice-versa and I wonder to myself how this can happen when a mere glance would show what clothes were supposed to go in there.

Of course I'm much more invested in the laundry since I'm the one who does it and so I'm sure my poor husband, who has worked all day and comes home to a brood of boys all swarming all over him, is just simply trying to get his clothes in the hamper as he changes after work and doesn't always think to look. Okay, I can give him that. And I am so thankful that he gets them in there for the most part and doesn't strew them all over the house. But I did scratch my head over this for years trying to figure out a solution to the problem since extra sorting on laundry day is not my favorite thing.

Well, through a stroke of providence, I have found the solution to the problem. Recently, our old hampers were so tattered (I had them since my college days) that we needed to get new ones. I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond in search of new hampers to adorn our closet and carry our clothes for the next five to ten years or so. There were the cadillac hampers so nice, plush and sturdy and there were the Pintos that looked like they might last a day, at least in our house. I was looking for more of a Honda. Nice looking, sturdy and affordable but definitely in for the long-haul. Anyway, I found what I was looking for and immediately realized they'd also solve my sorting problem.

Now isn't that nice!!! Now after a long hard day, all my hubby has to do is look at the color of the hamper and throw his clothes in accordingly. It's been working beautifully and all of us, myself especially, are so thankful for the new hampers. It's amazing how a little change can help so much!! Now if only I could come up with a little trick for getting myself to iron. Hmmm...I'll have to think long and hard about that one! Maybe in another five years, I'll find a solution to that one and my poor, wrinkled husband will rejoice. Maybe, just maybe.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Third Son

I knew that my third son, Joshua, was going to naturally be a bit crazy from the get-go because, well, he's a third boy. I mean, he's got two older brothers running around doing all sorts of fun things that he innately wants to do and he has just had to sit back and watch for the last year. Now, he feels he can exert a bit of his own independence and he has helped himself right into the mix. When everyone else is wrestling, Joshua is right in there rolling around. He wants to go outside when his brothers do and he wants to do whatever they are doing.

But this I couldn't believe. A couple of weeks ago, we went to a place called Pumped which is full of bounce houses and huge slides. Here are all of the boys going up the slide.

Joshua had no problem whatsoever going down the slide with Daddy and laughed the whole way down. So, we decided to send him down with Isaac since he was just begging to let Joshy ride on his lap.

No fear and he liked it quite well thank you very much. So Steve somehow convinced me to send him down all by himself. I thought he'd just freak out. The slide is at least 50 feet high. Well, I think the picture speaks for itself.

I don't even want to know what a fourth boy would be like. Watch out world. Here Josh comes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

San Luis Obispo-How we Love Thee!!

This last week we had the great opportunity to visit the Weeks in San Luis Obispo before participating in AGO's annual football tournament over the weekend. Matt, Debbi and their children were very close to Steve and me while we lived in San Luis Obispo and so we love to take some time when we can to go and visit. Whenever we come over the Cuesta Grade into SLO, we just miss it so much!! We spent so many wonderful years there. So it's good to still be able to visit and get our SLO fix for awhile. The boys and I went down on Tuesday and Steve met us there late Friday night. We had a wonderful time and did so many things (even though the boys were sick with a cold!!) They were troopers.

Here are some highlights:
-Walks with friends
-Bali's frozen yogurt, chocolate swirl with "sprinklers",
-Visits to the park complete with a picnic
-Using our new Cars stamps
-Playing in the backyard with swords
-Walking downtown and seeing the train station
-Farmer's Market...Downtown Brown, huge prize winning pumpkins and a tour of the firetruck
-San Luis Obispo High School's Homecoming Parade-by far the favorite
-Playing at Miss Megan's house with all of her fun blocks and toys! Thanks Megan!
-Eating donuts for breakfast with Grandpa Matt
-Going to the Pismo Dunes and watching Daddy and his college buddies beat Zeta Alum (UCSB AGO's alumni team) Go Kappa Alum!!
-Eating pizza stix at Pizza Solo (my three boys can take down a whole serving of them...I think they like them a lot!)
-Seeing lots and lots of friends (although we missed seeing some due to the boys' cold and not wanting to infect other little kids but, we still got to see many)

We are so grateful to be home but we had the best time in San Luis Obispo!! Thanks Weeks family for hosting us all week. We can't wait to come back and visit again sometime!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Startin' Em Early

Recently, there was a hilarious conversation that occurred in my car on the way to school. One of the boys started talking about getting married someday and becoming a Daddy. All the boys chimed in with their own little responses to marrying a girl someday. They haven't gotten to the "girls are yucky stage" yet so their little ideas about having a family of their own were so cute. All of them wanted to marry a pretty girl (it starts young) and all of them wanted to be a Dad.

One thing I really try and instill in my boys is a respect for how hard their Dad works for them and how his work provides for our family. It's my hope that they will appreciate and want to emulate their Dad in this area some day when they have families of their own. We actually talk about this a lot. On this particular day, since I was getting such great conversation out of them, I wanted to see what the boys in the car would say about their Dads and working. I gently turned the conversation that direction and started asking the boys if they knew why their Dad worked so hard. One of the boys in the car, without skipping a beat said, "So I can spend money!" I just died laughing and thought to myself, I must remember to tell his mom (who is one of my close friends) his comment. I knew what he meant--that his Dad worked so that they could have money to spend on things like food, shelter and clothes. Believe me, none of us are rich that live out here so I know that he, or his mom rather, isn't just out blowing the dough Daddy brought in. But his response was just so, so funny.

And then I thought you know what, it's so important that they get it now. So many men in their 20s and even older don't get it. I have a responsibility as a Christian mom to raise my sons to take responsibility now and not later. It's now that they learn this stuff so that it's second nature to them as they grow older. So much of who they are now is who they will be in fifteen to twenty years. So I better not delay, let days slip by or think that if I'm not intentional about it, they'll just know it later on. They must be taught. Their Dad is their example and teacher, but I must be like his second, encouraging, pointing things out and most of all respecting his position. Respect will speak volumes. If I can get that part down, I'll be halfway there.

The other day Isaac said to me, "Mom, when I am big like Dad, I'll have my own family and I won't live at your house anymore." And with a little twinkle in his eye he said, "And you'll miss me!!" I hadn't told him that but, I think he just realized it out on his own. And I really was glad he had said it even though thinking of him all grown up did make me a bit sad. Nevertheless, even though he's young, he's getting it. And it's so important for him to understand that when he's a man, he'll need to take responsibility for himself and for a family and that this responsibility is God-given and good.

So I'm startin' em early. And I'm praying for their future wives. And I'm asking God for the grace to bring them up right, so that they'll be strong men of God who can face the world, knowing that God has made them to care for their family and to conquer what comes their way with His help. I pray that God will cover us and give grace for the mountain of mistakes we'll make and the hope that they'll still get it on the other end in spite of ourselves. However, if I don't try and teach them now, how will they ever know?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rainy Day Ideas

So today marked the beginning of rainy season. Early in the morning I heard the familiar pitter-patter on my roof and smiled before drifting back to sleep. I love the rain. Nevertheless, rain or general nasty weather and little children can be challenging. Although we really don't get that much bad weather, it always makes me thankful for the sun and getting outside. My boys usually need to get outside everyday to run off some energy and so, being indoors all day causes for some definite creativity. I'm sure if I had to do it more often, I'd be better at it. But since I'm not, I'll list all of the things we've found to do on rainy days and you list your own. It'll be sort of a swap. Maybe if enough of us chime in with ideas, it'll get us through the winter cheerfully!!

Rainy Day Ideas:

Crash Pile: I stole this from the Femina Blog (which you should check out if you don't already read it. It's on my blogroll). Basically, you pile all sorts of pillows and blankets on top of each other and let your kids run wild crashing into it full speed. My boys absolutely love this and usually work up quite a sweat.

Bake cookies, bread or anything that sounds wonderful!

Build a fort with blankets, family room furniture and chairs and then read books by flashlight

Color or other craft stuff. Any ideas?

Do puzzles

Extended bath play time

Music time: usually this consists of us singing through songs and learning new ones.

Dance Party: dancing like crazies to any sort of music. My boys' favorite is Sing, Sing, Sing which is a very fast swing song. I happen to like it a lot myself too.

Play Simon Says or another game that the little ones can understand and play. My oldest loves board games but his younger brothers still can't play too much. Caleb can do a few with help. Any other game ideas?

Anything else? I'd love to hear what you do to pass the time!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Well, my oldest child learned the very hard lesson of payback this very morning. And very unsuspectingly I might add. It all started early. Earlier than everyone was even up. I woke up late, which is extremely unusual for me. Normally, I'm up with the sun regardless of how much sleep I had the night before. I usually rise just fine (I just end up falling asleep early on the couch). I'm definitely a morning person. But anyway, for whatever reason, I was up 45 minutes later than usual and I ran in to get the baby. He was waiting quietly for me (WOW!) and I grabbed him and nursed him. Then the other two got up and before I knew it, I was running very behind. I quickly made my husband coffee, sent him out the door and proceeded to try and make up for lost time. Fridays I clean house and so I generally try to have a few things done before Josh takes his morning nap like vacuuming. As I'm prepping to vacuum there is a knock at the door.

Hmmmm....interesting. Who could be knocking on my door at 7:45 am? I opened the door and there stood a wide-eyed teenage girl who very timidly asked me if I knew whose dog it was she was holding by the collar. I immediately recognized my neighbor's dog and resolved to help her get him back home abandoning all of my housework and putting myself even further behind. But what to do? With Josh on one hip (I don't trust all three of them in the house by themselves), I quickly gave orders to Isaac to man the house while I ran to bring the crazy dog home.

Now rewind a couple of days. I'm in my backyard hanging clothes on the line, and the older boys are playing outside. I hear barking- lots of barking. I realize that there are a couple of holes in the fence that need mending and that my boys are "feeding" the dogs dirt through the broken slats in the fence. The dogs are going nuts and my kids are loving it. I quickly realize that my boys don't know it, but that they're riling the dogs up and teasing them. We talk about being kind and gentle with animals and how it's not nice to tease. They promise to leave the dogs alone from now on.

Flash back to this morning. I've got one of the dogs and we're all three of us, myself, Josh and the timid high school girl who I could hardly get to say two words to me on our little hike (and I tried!), heading to put him back in his yard and get on with the day. Mission accomplished. The girl and I part and I make it back to my own house to see Isaac is standing outside. He said he was looking for me. Hmmm...disobedience. I had told him to stay inside. Nevertheless, before I could even talk to him about that, the dog comes bounding through the fence (we soon learned that it would be very difficult to try and keep him penned up) and makes a beeline straight for Isaac.

Okay, I've got the baby and I see the dog coming. He starts jumping and Isaac very quickly gets hysterical. I'm at a complete loss as to what to do. I've got Josh and if I put him down, then the dog will get him and he's totally helpless. At least Isaac is a bit more able to handle himself against the dog. Now, mind you, the dog wasn't upset, he was just playing but Isaac wasn't having any of it. So, with Josh in my arms, I proceed to try and get Isaac away from the dog. I'm barking orders at him to run (stupid, I know but I could hardly think!) good thing he didn't listen that time. Different ideas about what to do are running through my mind all at once but I'm not coming up with anything brilliant. I'm just trying to fend off the dog with my feet, we're all dancing around helplessly and my oldest child is screaming at the top of his lungs.

Meanwhile, of course this is all going on right before school starts and cars are streaming into the parking lot at record speed. I don't know how long we were dancing out there like crazies before I got the gumption to just pick Isaac up as well and make a run for it. But it had been quite some time and I KNOW we were a spectacle. Just wonderful. I'm sure this is what my husband heard in his first period class. "Wow, Mr. Dauphin. Is your family okay? I saw your wife running in circles with a dog chasing her and your kids were screaming!" I'm surprised he hasn't called to check on us yet. But this I know, Isaac learned very quickly to treat animals with respect because you never know when they might show up for a little payback.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm Sold!

I have been flabbergasted as to how little I've missed my dryer. I thought I'd last a week and here I am going on six weeks and I have three very small children who go through clothes like movie stars do money!! Here are my top ten reasons why I love my clothesline. I'm not here to say that everyone must do it, but I wanted to write about why I love doing it!!

10 Reasons Why I Love My Clothesline

1. It's so, so easy to do and it didn't cost me a cent.

2. The sun helps to bleach out stubborn stains! I've been so surprised at how many old stains have faded or disappeared after being hung out on the clothesline.

3. I'm much less stressed doing laundry this way. I can't do my laundry quite as fast which just means that it's not all log-jammed on my couch screaming at me, "Fold me!! Fold me!!" It's amazing how I feel like I can keep up with the laundry so much better now even though the clothesline isn't quite as efficient as my dryer!

4. It makes all of my clothes smell so fresh!

5. My kids play happily outside while I do the laundry.

6. I get necessary sorting and folding done as I hang the clothes up and take them down. I sort socks and hang them up together so that I can just ball them up when they come down. I fold everything as it comes off. I come into my house with the clothes folded and it's only taken me an extra five minutes to do so!

7. I'm saving energy.

8. It's good exercise. Need I say more?

9. It gives me a glimpse of past generations and how they lived. It makes me feel more connected to history. I know, I know, there I go being all "romantic" again.

10. I absolutely LOVE seeing all of my little one's clothes, especially their little jeans hanging out on the fence next to my husband's. I can't explain it but, it just really warms my heart.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Fashion Police

Sadly enough, I am probably one of the worst dressers around. I've really been this way for most of my life. I know, as a woman, that I am supposed to care about fashion but I never really have. In fact, I tend to think that most trendy things are cute AFTER they're no longer "in". That's how behind the times I am most of the time. Every year I survey my closet and find odds and ends from all over the place. I still have a pair of running shorts from my sophomore year in high school. And I don't want to tell you how long I've had some of my shoes. I have even less fashion sense with shoes. And I don't ever buy new ones (except running shoes). It's bad.

And it's only gotten worse since I've become a mom. You'd think I was in mourning or something but, my daily uniform usually consists of something black. Here's the reason behind the madness: I've discovered that black is the best color to wear because it shows the least amount of stains. Even if I want to wear a semi-cute shirt, I know it's just going to get spit-up on, pooped on, colored on or peed on within the first hour of being worn. And if A,B,C or D hasn't happened yet, then E. fill in the blank with something very messy, is bound to be headed my way at any time. Why struggle with the mess when I can just rub it right in and no one will have to know?

This dress was given to me by my fashionable and generous sister-in-law at least five years ago. I still wear it and love it so much!!

But seriously, one of the things that gets me about clothes is how much they cost and how little I want to spend on them. I usually just acquire clothes. I hardly ever buy them. I'm not sure how this started but I think people who are around me often, who love me and want what's best for me, usually see my fashion sense and decide I need some help. So I receive a lot of hand-me downs from others. And really, since I'm so behind the times anyway, it always seems like great stuff to me!! However, when I do go to buy clothes, I usually try to stick with what's classic and practical simply because they last longer.

Today though, I really tried. I had two $10 off coupons to Kohl's and they were having a grand opening sale. My mom, bless her dear heart, met me at the mall and watched my three boys (all 4 and under and one of them ended up puking on her watch) in the play area while I went to try and find some deals. I promised myself that I wouldn't just buy practical but would buy some fun, cute stuff too. The good news is that I spent only $16.31 on 7 long-sleeved tees (all different colors). The bad news is that I didn't find anything girly or cute. Just simple and plain. Utter failure!!

But I really, really tried. I put on several sweaters, cardigans, flowery shirts and the like and I did not care for any of them!! I either looked pregnant in the flowing shirts (which I have looked plenty in the last four years and don't care to look when I'm really not) or I looked like I was trying to be a teenager again. And some of the fashions just plain confused me. One sweater I tried on was cute but it didn't have sleeves!! What is the point of a sweater if it does not have sleeves?!! I felt stupid just putting it on let alone wearing it in public. And I was not about to spend $30 on looking stupid! Give me my jeans and my tees please and my Cal Poly sweatshirts!! Go Mustangs!

So I settled for the plain and practical. And you know, I'm just fine with it. I think plain and practical fit me. I don't have to feel bad about the money spent but can feel good that these pieces will get me through many more years to come (with various hand-me-downs here and there of course). If I had a lot more money I'd maybe care more about my wardrobe. But, I probably still wouldn't much. It's just not me. In this area, I'm downright simple and stubborn about it. Is that even possible?!!

But, here's the deal. If you see me on the street, wearing something from last decade, please don't call the fashion police. First of all, I probably don't know the major fashion faux pas I'm committing and secondly, even if I did know, I probably wouldn't care!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Year Later

Tonight, a year ago, I went into labor with my third son Joshua David Dauphin. He was born right before midnight. As much as I rejoice in Joshua's birth and life, his birth was difficult for me and it has taken me some time to process through all that God wanted to teach me (and still is teaching me) as a result of the events of that night.

I was already planning to write his birth story since I love writing and doing so, helps me to literally spell out what is on my heart about things. But then this last week a friend of mine got me in touch with a small christian publication called, Thought Meadow, and the editor asked me to write an article about gratitude. It was perfect timing. I won't say much more. After reading, you'll understand.

Yet I'll say this, his birth story is a bit long so if you don't have much time, you'll want to come by later. And for those of you who just want to see pictures, here's a few from that special and difficult night. I'll forever be grateful to the nurse who thought to take pictures for us since I was knocked out and Steve wasn't able to be in the room. He/she really gave us an amazing gift by doing so.

I remember it was hot. While most of the country was experiencing the first signs of fall full of bursting colors, sweaters, soup and apples, I was living through what some Californians call an "Indian Summer". It was early and my two boys were sleeping soundly at home while their Dad snored. I, however, was out walking the hill behind our house, my taut skin stretching snugly over my belly. Up and down I trudged, determined to walk and walk that hill that I had climbed so often during my pregnancy, trying to urge my body over the edge and into labor. Deep inside, the miracle that God was nearly finished forming in my body, kicked and rolled making his presence known again. I reminded him firmly, in a motherly sort of way, that he was running out of room and that he needed to come out!! While I walked, my thoughts were on getting through another day without being discouraged. Every day that one goes overdue seems like a week and if that were really true, I was already three weeks over. I didn't want to make it to four.

The rest of the day was full of Sabbath Dinner preparations, a trip to Costco, making Challah bread, kissing owies, cleaning up messes, another walk and cuddling with my husband. It was a typical Saturday. Once dinner hit and the preparations were done, the contractions started. Clean and smooth they rolled like butter off of a knife. They were productive and strong. I didn't tell a soul. We sang, we laughed and we made it through another Sabbath Dinner full of mystery and delight and as I cleaned up, I started to time the waves rippling through my abdomen. Once I was sure they were regular and close, I pulled my husband aside and whispered that it may be time. Excitement hung in the air like perfume. The day was cooling off and the sun was setting. It was a perfect autumn evening. The boys watched a movie while we continued to time. Steady, steady they came like the beat of a drum. My last labor had been short so, before long, we knew it was time to call our doula.

Almost as soon as we got her on the phone, the bleeding started. At first I was elated. Bloody show most certainly meant that it was the real thing and not a false alarm. Nevertheless, almost as rhythmic as the contractions, the bleeding came, steady, steady, faster and faster until I began to get a bit nervous. When our doula showed up, we all decided to head into the hospital quickly. As we sped along the country roads, my body leaning into the curves and bends of the road while simultaneously moving through the waves, my thoughts slowly went back through my two other births.

My firstborn was born two weeks early right before a major move. He had flipped to footling breech right near the end and was taken via c-section. It was unexpected and shocking. However, we were elated he was born and happy to hold him in our arms. Our next son was our first attempt at a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after C-Section) and his birth went off without a hitch. My labor was fast, strong and productive. It was an amazing experience and I felt like I had a tiny glimpse of what God's glory looks like in our world. I got to have a piece, a very small piece of what it feels like to lay myself down in death to give life to another. I savored my experience like a little child with his first ice cream cone and the memories of his birth still remain for me an experience full of wonder and awe at our Creator. Once I was pregnant with my third son, I knew I wanted to try for another VBAC. I didn't expect any problems. I expected another birth that would be physically challenging but aesthetically beautiful at the same time. Yet once we arrived at the hospital and I made that familiar walk down the halls, I realized that things may not be going according to my plans.

Once I was checked in, the rest of the night sped away from me very quickly and began to get blurry. Nurses went in and out trying to figure out why I was bleeding so much. Was my placenta abrupting? Was it lying too low? The baby was fine and I was progressing great but, the bleeding was not stopping. It continued to worsen. As rhythmic as the contractions, the blood flowed and I steadily began to weaken. I held onto hope that I could labor fast enough that it wouldn't matter and the baby would be born without any problems. Nevertheless, once my doctor showed up, he plainly saw that I was hemorrhaging, quickly pulled the plug on the whole operation and then very decisively prepped for surgery. Everything was slipping away from me at that moment. I went back to the morning in my mind and remembered the bright, cheery sun as I climbed the trusty hill. I remembered the strength I felt that very morning and tried to muster it up from deep down inside myself. But as much as I tried, my body was failing. The body that I had carefully and diligently prepared, relied on and trusted for nine months to carry my little one to completion was failing. And I was falling into the darkness.

Within minutes my husband had signed the papers, cried with me and sent me off into a sea of white coats with prayers and kisses hoping to see me breathing on the other end. Due to the serious nature of the situation, he was not allowed in to the operating room and ended up a puddle on the floor outside the door praying, waiting and straining to hear a cry from our son and a word that we were both all right. I was dreaming of better days within no time, yet somewhere deep down I was subconsciously crying that I could not witness my son's first moments and neither could his Dad. No one but the white coats, who were working so hard and fast to save his life and mine, could document his first cries and movements. Sadly, they were the only ones there.

Once I was awake and I knew my son was all right, the bitterness set in. Why had this happened? What had gone wrong? I felt the familiar pain from the surgery and winced in agony and in anger. My husband strongly held my hand, helped me nurse my little one and filled me in on the precious hours I had missed- his first moments. I lamented, I cried, I mourned and I seethed. Yet I tried to enjoy the first few hours of his birth. Because my husband loves me, he quickly set me to right, showing me the sovereignty of God and reminding me of God's mercy in the situation. "Look at all that could have gone wrong," he reminded me. "Look at what God saved us from. He didn't have to. He just did. We need to be grateful." I knew he was right but could not get my heart to meet him there. I should have been grateful. I should have seen the mercy. But I was blinded by selfishness, pride and my own feelings of injustice. I felt I had worked hard, prepared well and done everything I was supposed to do so I shouldn't have had any problems. Instead of rejoicing in our rescue, I just kept slipping back into the darkness.

As the weeks wore on, we talked about the birth constantly. My husband continued to remind me of God's mercy and I continued to remind him of the nightmare. But as time trudged on and turned itself slowly into months, God showed me glimpses of what could have been. There was an unexpected talk with a lady who had lost her son in childbirth. Her heart and amazing attitude moved me so much and I was humbled immediately. As I spoke with her, I cradled my infant safely in my arms and afterwards, I never looked at him the same. In that instant, I saw how close I was to losing him and how thankful I needed to be. It became less about me getting the birth I wanted and more about me holding tight the little life I was still given. I was also reminded that I could still have children, though not the natural way, and this joy and hope for the future, started to chisel away at my ingratitude. Slowly, slowly, with much prayer on my part and my husband's, my anger began to turn into thanksgiving. It was more about my perspective. Joshua's birth wasn't a nightmare. It was a rescue. It was mercy. And it wasn't because of anything I had done or deserved, it was simply because God had chosen it to be that way.

Job, who suffered tremendously, asked God what the reasons were for his sufferings since he was a righteous man who followed the rules and tried to do what was right. God simply responded, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding." Job 38:4 And then God gave a beautiful accounting of His creation story all done by His mighty hand. When I think about why God does what He does, I get all tangled up in questions, feelings and particulars and then am quickly reminded that I was not around when God formed the world and cannot wrap my tiny arms around the wisdom of the Almighty. God moves, spins, creates and loves and I simply get to be a small part of it. Sometimes His actions go my way and sometimes they don't but they are always for my good, whether painful, trying, or joyful. It's simply about my perspective. And my perspective dictates whether or not I will be able to be grateful.

Joshua's laughter ripples through our house daily and reminds me of God's grace. The smell of him, the way he curls his hair with his fingers and sucks quietly on his hand are all reminders of mercy. His very name means "Saved by the Lord" and is an eternal reminder that I serve a God who rescues. My own salvation rests upon this fact and more than anything in this world, I am grateful for life. Christ went down into death and conquered it so that I could live. This is mercy. This is grace. This is the foundation of my life. This is the very essence of my gratitude.