Friday, November 26, 2010

In Honor of Black Friday

I've never been a Black Friday shopper but, I know some people swear by the sales. Anyhoo, I'm about ready to close down the Pampered Chef giveway. So in honor of Black Friday, I thought I'd give anyone who didn't already get to enter their name into the drawing, a chance to do so. There's actually a decent number of people/entries entered already so if you want a good chance to win the amazing, large bar pan, simply order something online or leave a comment. Here's a link detailing all the rules. I'll choose a winner next Wednesday.

Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Pie For the Little Ones

I love to bake. I love to cook. I love to do just about anything in the kitchen. It makes me happy. Therefore, one of the ways I feel I can love and serve others is through creating in the kitchen. Often I find myself signing up for meals or dropping by with an unexpected baked gift for a friend. It's just my way.

However, this sort of thing takes time, effort and money. And when it comes to my own family, sometimes, I don't want to indulge. I come up with all kinds of excuses. Part of me reminds myself that I simply don't want the dessert around because then I'll eat it. This can be true. I have a horrible sweet tooth and if I don't keep my happy feet pounding the pavement, this sweet tooth can catch up to me. So sometimes I'll skimp on them because I don't want to be tempted and need to have self control. Other times I tell myself that they're little and don't eat a lot so, I don't want to waste. This can be true as well. But really, when it truly comes down to it, if I am being honest, I simply just don't want to take the time.

I can hear all of you gasping! How horrible!! I know, I know. It is horrible. How is it that I can take all sorts of time to lavish culinary gifts on others but I'm not as much inclined to do it for my own family. Now don't get me totally wrong. I do make them special treats often. But it's more about my heart.

Sometimes, I simply want to bow out just because I don't feel like it. I've already been up to my elbows in flour for something else, I don't want to bake another thing. This attitude comes out more around the holidays when it seems like all I am doing is cooking and baking. But when I really think about it, the fact that I can cook and bake in the first place is evidence that God has been generous to me. First I should be thankful and then second I should put this bounty to use. It should overflow to my own and then to others and should NOT be impeded by my laziness. This truth is something I've been convicted about lately.

It started with this scenario. On Sunday we had a Thanksgiving feast at church. It was wonderful, yummy and full of amazing food. I brought an apple pie and mashed potatoes. So, so good. My kids watched me make that apple pie and they saw it go on the table bursting with food on Sunday. And they were so patient. But we had to leave early. Both Joshua and Elliana were at their end and needed naps. So we left without getting dessert. The older boys were devastated. But because they are good kids, they lifted up their countenance and submitted to us leaving without much fuss. Later Caleb said, "Mommy, we didn't get any apple pie." Normally my go-to response would have involved reminding him that they get desserts quite often and that he needed to be thankful. But then I started thinking about it a bit more.

How often do they see me pouring myself out for other families (which is great to do!) with yummy desserts and everything, without them getting a little bit of the prize? Sometimes I can be too practical. So what if they won't eat the whole pie. Aren't my little ones worth it? Shouldn't I splurge on them first, lavishing them with all the goodness I have to offer and then lavish others.

So, instead of thinking about the work or how much it would cost, I decided this time to do something different. I decided, it was going to be about them this time because it's Thanksgiving and they're my children and before anyone else, they need to be blessed by their mom unexpectedly every once in awhile. Doesn't God do this for us? Doesn't He lavish us with goodness just because we're His?

Of course it's good for them to see me giving to others. But I want them to know they're important. And I know that can get lost in there sometimes. So this time, just because, I made them a pie. A whole pie. And even though they're going to be getting more desserts this week, I'm going to let them eat it (within reason of course) so that they know they're loved, they're important and they're worth it.

So when you think about Thanksgiving and all of the work you're going to put into it, think about lavishing your family, not about the messes and money. Of course it's work. Of course it's tiring. But it's worth it. It's good work. Get into that flour. Make a mess and laugh about it (as much as you can). Fill your children up with good things. For when we fill up our little ones' bellies, we fill up their souls as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Lil Darling

Okay...I can't help myself. She just kills me.

I am SO enjoying this baby girlness--I can't even describe the joy.

One of the best parts for me is dressing her in as many dresses as possible. And of course, she's got to have all the accessories like tights and bows.

Before having Elliana, I was convinced I didn't want anymore children. I've been pregnant four times in the last six years and during that time I've either been pregnant or nursing. That's a lot of time people. Thirty-six months preggo out of seventy-two. You do the math.

But now, I don't know. I mean, is this really my last time? I just can't say it is. And wouldn't it be so great if I could give her a sister.

Because of course, I'd get a girl next time right?


Ha ha. Chances are slim...

But maybe still worth going for...

In the future...

Because as the husband says, "We're in downshift mode now-we're getting old. And we're tired."

Yeah, yeah...but if I could just put in my order, I'd have one more girl so that Ellie could have a sister and then everyone would have a friend.

And I'd selfishly get to go through all of this baby girlness just one more time.

Just one more time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A "Largish" Family

A lot of times people wonder how largish (I don't consider our family large...five and up is large; four is just large-ish) families make it and they'll ask us if we feel we're going crazy. I actually think it's harder to have two really small ones but anyway, that's just my opinion. Of course we feel like we're going crazy sometimes. But when you've acquired a couple of kids, you're used to it and it no longer seems like such a big deal. "Mom, Joshy has Daddy's drill again." Hmmm...I'm guessing I've got about thirty seconds to get in there before he figures out how to turn it on. Plenty of time to start the washer first. "Mom, Caleb drew on the wall." Eeh, it's washable. This too shall pass. Two quick examples of my reactions these days.

One of the reasons why, I think, people who happen to have a bunch of kids keep going is because they find it really can be easier with more. I'm not kidding. The main reason for that is that the other kids get older and can help out more. Both of my older two can help make a very simple breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. When they make a mess on the floor, I tell them to get the vacuum out and they can do a decent job cleaning it up. Even Joshy, who spilled my drink on the floor today, was able to get a rag to tackle the spill. They help with daily chores like most kids. It's true-many hands makes light work! Yet, when you have all little ones, you're doing everything! And for years, that was me!

But here's a quick example of older kids helping out. This never would've happened before, at least not nearly so smoothly.

About a week ago, I was getting the boys out of bed in the morning. I thought something seemed a bit odd but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Nothing seemed awry. Everyone was in bed smiling at me. All I noted was that Josh was no longer wearing his pajama pants. I knew he had them on when I had checked him the night before. Yet, I just passed that off as him chucking them in the middle of the night or something because he was hot. Unusual but very possible. But then my oldest, the studious one, started filling me in on the whole story.

You see, I was in the back room on the treadmill. The ONLY time I have to myself (Elliana doesn't count) is in the morning before the boys wake up. Hubby loves me and got me a treadmill last year. Me and said treadmill are quite good friends. Anyhow, evidently Joshua woke up and was calling for me to take him to the bathroom. However, I was in la la land listening to my tunes, so I couldn't hear a thing. Mostly that was unintentional if you get my meaning. But at the same time, I don't really want to hear a thing until 7 am-seriously.

So, if this situation would have occurred two or three years ago, the child would have just peed his bed and I'd be cleaning up the mess (which I would deserve I guess for not paying attention). We always tell our kids that they can get out of bed to go to the bathroom but, since it's so ingrained in their heads that they must stay in bed under all other circumstances, they usually forget and just call for us. By the way, this is because we're really mean parents and we require that our kids stay in bed until they're told to get out. Ha ha. That's just our house rule. It generally works out well for us but I have cleaned up messy beds on various occasions due to this rule.

But back to the story. Isaac very nonchalantly tells me, "Mom, Joshy had to go pee pee so I took him." Caleb chimes in with, "Yeah Mom, we all went." Obviously, they had gotten the job done and the only casualty had been the pants. Not bad. I surveyed the bathroom and the floor was sparkling clean. I was shocked. Then as I was taking in this bit of news, I realized the gravity of the situation-they had both gotten down, taken Joshy (barely two and just newly potty trained, so he's still getting used to things) to the bathroom calmly, helped him go potty and then all climbed back into their beds to wait there patiently until I came in to get them up. When did they grow up so much?

A few mornings later, it happened again. This time though, Caleb told them he was too sleepy. But, never fear, first born Isaac was on duty and he wasn't about to let down his post.

Before when I was potty training a child I'd always be trigger happy in the morning trying to get them on the potty so that they wouldn't wet the bed. Well, I guess I don't have to worry about it this time. The big brothers are on it.

To be honest, I think part of it is that they know if Joshy makes it to the potty, they'll be getting a treat too. Whatever works.

The encouraging thing is that I see signs that there is some light at the end of this extremely long tunnel. They're getting older. Part of it makes me sad. I have such fond memories of these past five, chaotic years. God has stretched us and taught us quite a bit. It's all just flying too fast.

And then the other part of me feels relief and excitement. How amazing to be able to have more intelligent conversations about God, life and people, and then watch them grow in knowledge through their education. I want to see my kids devour books, discover the beauty of math, get lost in music and learn to express themselves in written language. How incredible to watch!

I don't even think my kids are that old yet. But things like this just give me glimpses of what it'll be like in another five years and to be honest, it does get me really excited.

So that's how it's done. That's how larger families make it. Everybody just pitches in. Things don't always get done perfectly or even all that well sometimes. But everyone tries and gives a little. And Mom and Dad just learn to take whatever help they can get and no matter what, to laugh...a lot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Little E.E.

Today has been painfully long so tonight, I leave you with some of my favorite prose by my dear, sweet, encouraging Elisabeth Elliot. My brain is just too fried to come up with anything intelligent on my own. Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from her book Let Me Be a Woman.

"The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on all speak loudly about what you believe. 'The Beauty of Thy peace' shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul." pg.37

Of course, it's important to note that she's NOT talking about perfection but rather an attitude toward orderliness. I have four kids. I'm not going to be as organized as some moms with less kids or with simply more determination than me. Nevertheless, it's more about what I'm striving after. This quote always gets me thinking. I should be striving after this. I should care about making things lovely.

"...Motherhood requires self-giving, sacrifice, suffering. It is a going down into death in order to give life, a great human analogy of a great spiritual principle (Paul wrote, 'Death worketh in us but life in you') Womanhood is a call." pg 53

"It [marriage] is a vow you are making before God and before witnesses, a vow you will by God's grace keep, which does not depend on your moods or feelings or "how things turn out." As others have said, love does not preserve the marriage, the marriage preserves love." pg 63

"You can create a climate for him according to your attitude, and this is part of your job as a wife. The home you make and the atmosphere of that home is the world he comes back to from the world of his work. Let it be a place of beauty and peace." pg 101

I love what she writes about loyalty in marriage. It ALWAYS resonates so strongly with me.
For the last quote, here's a snippet.
"We have seen women who are manifestly not loyal to their husbands. I do not mean that they are unfaithful, but that they are not proud to be their wives...Nothing thrilled me more than to be identified with a particular man. I didn't mind if people thought of me as his wife. I loved it. I never felt that my own personality was 'submerged.' I was proud of his, and knew that a new personality, the personality of the marriage itself, is created when two people wed...This loyalty will bring you suffering...If you are proud of your man and loyal to him you will suffer when he is criticized...You will know sometimes that the criticism is a just one and because you are loyal you will suffer the more....When he fails you cannot be proud of his failure, but you can be loyal. You can maintain that faith in the idea that God had when He made him, and you can comfort and support him, giving him the strength of your love and the incentive which your pride in him will always instill." pg 163.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just Couldn't Help It

So I've been researching a bit for a writing project due next week and I've been going through some literature prominent in the women's lib movement like Betty Friedan's landmark book The Feminine Mystique. You're probably wondering why. Well, without giving too much away, I'm writing an article on mentoring and why it's REALLY important for older Christian women, who have raised their children, to build into the next generation of women because in a lot of ways, as a result of the radical changes in our society fifty years ago, we don't necessarily know what it means to be women. For example, we've got women working their hardest to be men and men falling into the roles of being women. Gloria Steinem, one of the major voices of the movement in the 70s, said it most accurately when she stated: Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry. Interesting. In my mind, there's fall-out all over the place with the family being the first and most significant casualty. Can't we just be women...strong, capable, respectful, feminine women?

I'm not saying the women's liberation movement didn't do any good. For sure it did. There were inequalities that needed to be dealt with like equal pay, legal rights like owning property and such. Fifty years earlier, the women's suffrage movement granted women the right to vote. These things were good to fight for. There were inequalities and things that needed to be settled. God didn't create women to be less, just different. In 1 Peter 3:7 it says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel (meaning physically), since they are heirs with you of the grace of life…” Husbands were implored to show honor and to live with their wives according to understanding because they were different from them and deserved their husband’s love. The New Testament spoke out very clearly against the harsh treatment of women in the early church. But we live in a fallen world and this advice was not always readily received. Richard Ganz, a theologian stated, "If men had sought ways to see the gifts and talents of their wives developed and utilized rather than taking a beautiful person and making her into little more than a personal slave, if men had not twisted this doctrine of headship, we would not have the current problems in our society." Pg. 27 Radical Womanhood, Carolyn McCulley. Not every man treated his wife that way, but I'm sure there were many who did. So there were problems.

But, instead of just trying to fix the problems, women turned on themselves. One of the things that I noticed explicitly is that instead of embracing women from all different backgrounds (you know, "tolerance" that is so pushed in our society) which would include women who work and those who don't, there was an absolute denigration of the stay-at-home mom. In fact, these women went after the stay-at-home mom because she, just being herself, totally undermined their entire cause. They wanted women in the workforce, not in the home. Because if they were in the home, they weren’t competing with men.
Vacuuming the living room floor -- with or without makeup -- is not work that takes enough thought or energy to challenge any woman's full capacity.” Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

Linda Hirschman, a contemporary feminist, echoes this idea as she feels that the housewife has let down the team. Albert Mohler details Hirschman’s views that were on national display via ABC’s Good Morning America show when he recounts this dialogue. “Hirshman says working is also a matter of feeling fulfilled. She doesn’t buy into the arguments of many homemakers who say taking care of the family is the most fulfilling thing they could imagine. Hirshman’s response is a demonstration of breathtaking arrogance. ‘I would like to see a description of their daily lives that substantiates that position,’ she said. ‘One of the things I’ve done working on my book is to read a lot of the diaries online, and their description of their lives does not sound particularly interesting or fulfilling for a complicated person, for a complicated, educated person.’ Albert Mohler, Are Stay at Home Moms Letting Down the Team?

It is important to be educated, whether one wants to be in the workforce or not. I went to college. I LOVED it. And I don’t see my life now as a waste of my education. Rather I see it as preparation for my life as a wife and mom, and possible work when my children are grown. And Elisabeth Elliot, one of my Christian heroes, agrees with me. “Surely it [education] is to draw out (the root meaning of educate) the gifts God has given whatever they may be. Surely I did not send you to college on the assumption that you would marry [she was writing to her daughter]. A Christian liberal education will make you a better wife and mother, I’m convinced…” pg. 58 Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman

Betty Friedan also made outlandish statements about children who grew up in homes where their mothers were around either by staying home or by only working part-time.

“Strange new problems are being reported in the growing generations of children whose mothers were always there, driving them around, helping them with their homework — an inability to endure pain or discipline or pursue any self- sustained goal of any sort, a devastating boredom with life” Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

All I can say to that is, WOW! Children are worse off having a parent around to love them because they don’t learn how to endure pain on their own?

So I know that I’m biased because being home with my kids is my job and I pretty much love it. It’s true. But I do have friends who work that stretch me and get me out of my box…and I’ve really tried over the years to have a better understanding of those around me who choose to work. I’ve also learned to be quiet about it and just do my own life.

But I guess I just couldn’t help it this time. All of this reading just got me too fired up. And even though I have tried vehemently on this blog NOT to be overly controversial, because really, when do I have time to care about or read hate mail? But I guess sometimes in life, you’ve got to just say what you think.

So with that being said, you can send all hate mail to Nikki Dauphin. But I can’t promise you I’ll read it because I’ll probably be busy working and learning more how to be a mom. As my alma mater’s motto for education was “Learn by Doing” (all you Cal Poly Mustangs will understand), I’ll be making cookies, building lego towers, folding laundry, wiping bottoms and putting dinner together (not necessarily in that order and yes, I do wash my hands…often). Because that’s what I do and it’s great. Some days it’s really hard. Some days I want to call in sick. But, when I look to the future, I know my work will reap a harvest if I don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)

She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. Proverbs 31:17

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Right in the Middle

So I've spent the last two days potty-training my two-year-old. Potty-training-YUCK! I think this task is probably one of the most daunting, messy and stressful tasks that parents face during the little years. Okay, that's just my opinion but, it's what I think. So, with that great attitude in mind, a couple of weeks ago, I had decided to get this whole thing over with this week as the holidays are approaching and my window of opportunity (Elle being immobile) will be closing sooner than I know. Plus, once I have to start feeding her solids, that's going to take up a lot of time at first as well. So you get the drift. Now was the time to do it.

He had been ready for awhile. I'm sure those of you who have never done this before are asking, "How do you know?" Well, I'm going to give you a brilliant response-I don't know. I just knew he was. Maybe because I've gone through it twice now and one of my kids was ready when I did it and the other wasn't but at that point, there wasn't any going back. But anyway. He was ready. I had been letting him go pee pee like his older brothers for months, I just hadn't held him to any standards. Probably totally confusing for him but, I didn't care. At least he was getting familiar with the whole thing. Which brings to mind...

For those of you new to this oh so fun activity, potty-training falls into two camps. There's the potty-training in a day (or three which was our method) camp that basically has the parent throw out the diapers and put the child in underwear right from the get-go. You then follow the child around and run them to the toilet every time they start going to the bathroom teaching them to know their body's signals and such. It takes a concentrated effort, a lot of time on the front-end and much perseverance from the parent but the child is usually trained fairly quickly.

Then you have the gradual approach where the parent gets the child used to the potty. They wear diapers sometimes and underwear other times. It's all very laid back rather than stressful and running frenzied to the toilet. The only deal with this method is that it takes forever...plain and simple.

To be honest, I've surprised myself. I started out the militant and crazy mama who was running children to the toilet and nearly having a heart attack doing so. What if he pees on the carpet? What if I have to clean up smeared poop? Aaaaaahhhh! Now, I guess I've already done so much of that, (have you read our story about Caleb and the twisty slide in San Luis Obispo?) I just don't care. I'm just not stressed about it. Big deal. Poop is poop. I can wash my hands.

I'm also over them getting it right away. They'll get it. Everyone gets there at some point; so will they. I know that regardless of what method I do, they're still going to have accidents because they're little. It's just the way it is. I just have to stay with it and try to be positive. I still run kids to the toilet when I'm training them but I'm no longer frenzied. Well, at least most of the time I'm not!! Ha ha.

So I guess that puts me right in the middle. I was okay letting Joshy dabble in potty-training for awhile in order to get him more familiar with the toilet but when it came time to actually do it and take the plunge, I went all for it and put him in underwear. I think that combo did well for him.

So that's me. Right in the middle. Isn't that where we find ourselves over time, the more children we acquire and the more time God has to humble us, teach us and mold us into the parents He wants us to be? I guess it's not such a bad place to be.

Joshy's doing great by the way. That kid has been a champ. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my skills (believe me, I know this by now) and more to do with him being the third boy. He's got a lot of catching up to do in his mind.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Want to be Pampered?

I really debated about putting this up on my blog because, well, I don't know. I don't like to sound pushy. So if you're not into this sort of thing, you can just blow this post off. Permission granted.

Buuutttt...if you're like me and you go weak in the knees over simple, yet amazing kitchen gadgets, then this could just be your lucky day. Every year I host a catalog show through Pampered Chef because it's fun and I generally have enough people around that want to buy something whether it's Christmas gifts or something for their own kitchens. It's that time again but this year, I've decided to put it up for all of my lovely bloggy friends to be a part of. This year, oh this year, I'm going to give something away for free because, I already have a bunch of Pampered Chef stuff lining my shelves and because I'm feeling in the giving spirit. It is almost Thanksgiving you know. So lucky all of you.

Here's the deal. You don't even have to buy anything. Part of me just wants to hear from some of you that read this but who never chime in. So oblige me. If you want to be entered into the drawing, leave a comment about your favorite kitchen gadget (or anything else your little heart desires) and I'll put your name in. If you mention this giveaway on your blog linking it to mine, I'll give you three entries (put a link into your comment so I can verify it). Now, if you go to the Pampered Chef website and order something under my show, I'll give you five entries. Yes, five. It could only cost you five could be anything and you'll still get five entries. So if you're really smart, you'll do all of that and get yourself a whopping ten entries (I'll throw in an extra if you do all of it!). Put all comments on the blog so that I can keep better track of them please!

Now what will you win if your name is drawn?

This amazing, incredible, large bar pan ($34 value)...because I'm nice and generous and downright lovable. I know. I know. I use mine almost daily. It is incredibly strong, turns out the BEST baked goods, and lasts forever. Seriously. I love it.

So check it out.

There are also amazing gift options that only cost a few bucks. Here are a couple of my favorites.

The Large Cookie Scoop is only $14.50. I use it for our bake sale and other things of course. You can scoop muffins with these scoops as well and there are two other sizes. The medium scoop is your normal cookie size. They're incredibly durable and turn out great shaped cookies every.single.time. If you make cookies a lot, they're a must-have.

The garlic press is by far one of my favorite products-ever. And it's only $16.50. You can put a whole, unpeeled clove of garlic in it and it presses it for you in two seconds flat. I'm not joking. It also has a little cleaner-thingy (not sure what it's called) that helps get the garlic peel out so you don't have to get stinky hands and it helps get all the little remnants of garlic out of the holes before washing. Brilliant. I've had mine for almost ten years and it's still going strong. Bargain buy if you ask me.

Some of you may remember me decorating cakes for my boys' birthdays. It seems like I'm always decorating cakes!! Good thing I have the Easy Accent Decorator. I couldn't have done this Lightning Cake without it.

It comes with a bunch of different tips and holds a ton of frosting so you're not refilling all the time. It also can be washed in the dishwasher. Save me the trouble of those silly bags. This option takes the cake-literally and it's only $20!! Can you believe it?

This little guy is a dream come true. Have you ever tried getting brownies out of the pan with your regular old spatula? It's a disaster right? Well, here comes the Mini-Serving Spatula. It's little enough to fit into tight spaces so that you can get brownies, bars, even lasagna slices out without making a mess. The best part about this amazing spatula is that it's literally $5. Couldn't live without it. I simply couldn't.

I love stoneware and Pampered Chef has some amazing products to offer. This one is one of my favs...the Deep Covered Baker. Not only is it gorgeous, but it is incredibly versatile too. It can be put into the microwave or stored in the freezer if you so makes casseroles, roasts chickens, bakes yummy, gooey cobblers and looks mighty fine while doing so. It's one of those pieces of bake ware that you want on your table. This product is a bit more steep $85 but, if you're in the market for this sort of thing, the price is hard to beat. You can check out more of their stoneware as well. They have a stone for pretty much anything.

So have I whet your appetite? Here's how you get to my show:
Put Nikki Dauphin in as the host and you can even have your products shipped directly to you if you like (preferable if you don't live close to me). I'll be able to see who orders so I can put your five entries in for you! Leave a comment if you have any questions!

I'll announce the winner at the end of the month and I'll also post reminders over the next few weeks!

By the way, the quality of these products is astounding. Not only are there hundreds of practical and affordable options, but they all are built to last which makes me happy when I'm spending our hard-earned cash!! So rest're buying great products.

Happy Shopping!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Middle Child

I was a middle child. I turned out okay. Well, at least I think I did. In fact, both my husband and I are middle children from families of three children. I, however, was the only girl so I did have that specialness going for me, I guess. A few years back we got a used book online that cost us only a couple of bucks called, The New Birth Order Book, by Dr. Kevin Leman. We actually haven't read much of the book itself but have perused through a few chapters. Some of it is too psychoanalytic for my taste but...some of it is interesting too.

For example: according to Dr. Leman, me being married to another middle child, well can turn into quite a "muddle". "As we have seen, two married middle children will probably not communicate well. They tend to feel it isn't worth the hassle to confront each other. They may also discount the value of their own opinions. These attitudes are typical of middle children." The New Birth Order Book, pg. 223. When Steve and I read that for the first time, we just burst into laughter. Don't worry...we didn't panic or anything. In fact, we think that we communicate just fine and truly are best friends. And just for the record, between the two of us, my husband is much more adept at not hassling me too much with his opinions. He's very laid back (except on big issues of importance). I, on the other hand, when it comes to Steve, have no problem letting him know what I think. Over time I've learned to do it much more respectfully but, I still get it out there.

I do think though that middle children can have it hard sometimes. And that's not just because I'm one myself. I've seen this in my own home with my own children. It's also something I've watched for since I know a little bit what it's like to be a middle child. Now it doesn't always play out like this in every family but for us, so far, our hardest child has been our second. When I say "hardest" I mean the hardest one to reach. Part of that is probably his personality. He's strong. He's a fighter and he's stubborn. When these qualities are refined and pointed in the right direction, they can be SO great in a grown man. Yet again though, we've got to get him there. On the other hand, he's very sensitive and he shows his sensitivity through anger. Trying to teach him to express himself with self-control has been a long and arduous task although he's getting so much better over time. Another thing that has been important with him is gaining his trust and believe me, even as his parents, it has been hard to do.

Both Steve and I have spent nearly the last four years reaching...reaching...tying strings with him and reaching. He's gravitated much more naturally to me so Steve has had to reach even harder. A lot of the "theories" we had about the one-size-fits-all parenting that worked beautifully with our firstborn, flew out the window so fast when he came along. He required different methods and much more patience.

Yet, I think that because Steve and I are both middle children, it has caused us to have much more resolve and compassion in dealing with him. Maybe that's why God gave him to us second. We've been resolved to not just let him fade into the background or just let him "be who he was going to be." For some reason, we've been determined to fight for him. And so fight we after day after day. It hasn't always been pretty. And I'm sure we could've done some things much better. But we've fought and I know our fight is far from over. Nevertheless, the changes we've seen in him over the last two years are truly miraculous and we're thankful to God for His mercy and perseverance. We're also thankful for a time of respite.

I don't know where Caleb will end up in life. We pray that God will capture his heart and save him. This is our prayer. However, this I do know, God has used our precious little middle son to show us the depth of His love for us. For God didn't just leave us in our sin and rebellion but He LOVED us and gave HIMSELF up for us. He didn't stop fighting for us. And so we won't stop fighting for Caleb. Because we love him. And we want what's best for him. We may have to reach harder for him than the rest, but he's ours and so we'll keep reaching.

The other day Steve and I were talking about the kids and where each one was at. When we got to Caleb, we just smiled and both of us said, "I really like Caleb. I don't just love him. I like him."

It's all been worth it. He's been worth fighting for.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Better Late Than Never

This is for the grandparents...especially the two who didn't get to see the kids. I know I'm late on the whole Halloween thing. November is here and everyone's already forgotten about Halloween! But, give me a break. I've got a bunch of kids (that's my excuse for everything right?!) Ha ha.

We got to trick-or-treat in our own neighborhood this year. It was SO, SO fun and very simple. The kids got a ton of candy and we got to walk home afterward. This type of Halloween reminds me of my childhood and is much more our speed. I'm thankful it all worked out.

Here they all are lined up on the couch.

Since he never gets to go first--Joshy in all his glory here. He is our ray of sunshine for sure. Good thing the 49ers won that day!

Daddy's little ballerina. Need I say more? Here she is with Pa Pou (my Dad). I just love, love, LOVE having a little girl.

Our sweet Caleby decked out as a cowboy. I just love that kid. He's getting so old on me already. I can't believe how much he acts like Isaac now.

Crazy Isaac as a cowboy as well. He's got some strange accessories but, who cares right?

It sure takes a lot of work to get all of those kids ready! But the payout is tons of fun and of course, a mountain of candy. I'm such a sweet tooth so, I guess it's not so bad.

The girls. The only girls (cousins almost 3 months apart) in the midst of boy land. Both girls had the same Halloween outfit, which was totally unplanned, so we had to get a picture.

Hope your family had a fun Halloween.