About a month ago I heard of a couple we know who is getting a divorce after 35 years of marriage and three grown children. Thirty-five years. Take that in for a minute. One of them just up and decided that they didn't love their spouse anymore. Unbelievable. Totally blows my mind. I don't know this family well but, I have wanted, on many occasions to march up to their house and tell them the HUGE mistake they're making. I'm sure that would go over well:).
But seriously, for some reason, this has bothered me a lot because I think the fall-out from thirty-five years just must be so huge. I have also wondered what would make someone leave their spouse after so many years of marriage? How could one sell all that they had sown into their spouse and into their family for a grass is greener mentality? How could this really occur? What happened to love?
I remember very well the first time Steve told me that he loved me. He drove me up to the summit of the Santa Cruz mountains, danced with me under the stars and then looked me straight in the eye and said, "I've thought about this extensively and I can tell you with confidence that I love you. I love you. And I will love you. I've chosen you." I'll never forget it as long as I live. It was an incredibly wonderful and scary moment for me. You see, I didn't know what love was at all. I was scared to take that step. But despite my fears, I did. I answered "I love you too" back and as time went on, I realized that my profession wasn't the end but just the beginning. It was simply a promise of what was to come.
When I was dating Steve and in our early years of marriage, a very wise woman gave me some of the best insight into love and marriage I've ever heard. This is what she said. She told me that there are seasons. There are good seasons where all you feel is love. These seasons are smooth, easy and exciting. There are hard seasons when you don't understand each other and you don't feel like loving at all. There are also tragic seasons where you experience heartbreak and loss, and you mourn together. But the beauty of seasons is that you know that after the barren winter comes the glory of spring where the dead are raised back to life. Each season has its time. God does His redemptive work in every season and then things always cycle back around again. If you know this, you always have hope.
Best advice ever.
This is something that I have held onto over these last nine years. And I've seen her metaphor played out time and time and time again. There have been dark times but I've always known there will be morning...dawn is coming.
Marriage is no picnic. Steve and I have had many difficult moments when we've had to learn to work together, how to give love and respect, and how to care for one another. And there have been many times we've bailed...totally bailed on this and have had to regroup and try again. But it goes back to a choice. We don't ever "fall out of love". We simply ride the waves as the seasons go in and out and we commit to love no matter how we feel at the time. It goes back to those words..."I've chosen you to love." When that attitude is stacked up over many years it produces life, vitality and most of all it produces love. Over the years this love plunges to depths unknown.
Lately I've found myself saying to Steve, "I never knew. I never knew, when I told you that first time I loved you, that I could ever love someone as much as I love you now. I never knew." How could I? Those words were spoken in promise. They spoke of things to come. We committed to love and God made it grow. For only God can produce such incredible love between two people. He alone is the architect. He alone is the artist. I see His strokes of brilliance all over my marriage and the marriages of our friends and family.
I don't know what happened to that couple. There was obviously a break-down somewhere along the way. But I do know this, somewhere, one of them decided that the down season was just too long or too painful and that it would never get better. So instead of waiting for the resurrection (for God can resurrect anything!!) they gave up hope.
But there's always hope. Don't ever buy the lie that the season is too long. It will cycle back. Dawn will come. Don't give up.
Welp, it's back to the real world. I'm baking bread, doing laundry and cleaning up messes. Yup, we're back to reality.
I'll spare you most of the details but the bottom line is this...we had the BEST time this weekend. I highly recommend it.
We ate out at amazing restaurants, we hiked for hours and talked, we snuggled and watched Jane Austen movies while drinking hot chocolate and coffee, we explored the coast, and we went and saw a movie...in a theater! (The Help is an incredible movie by the way) I know it's been ages!! Let me just say that movie popcorn is just unbeatable. There's nothing like it.
But most of all, we got to reconnect and just be us. Because that's how it all started anyway.
You know, we fell in love eleven years ago as two young kids and now, somehow we've become "responsible" adults with four kids of our own!! It's hard to believe.
It was a long time coming. We haven't had a weekend like this since before children. But it was worth it...every single hour planning and every single penny spent.
It'll be awhile before we get an opportunity like that again and that's okay. We love our kids. We love to be with them. We love being parents. We don't resent our responsibilities and wish we could party it up all the time.
But every once in awhile, it's nice to get a glimpse of the past, to remember where we came from and how we've gotten here. And it's nice to be alone.
So here's to a great weekend. It wouldn't have been possible without Grandma and Grandpa Dauphin and Yia Ya and Pa Pou Georgatos. Thanks for taking all four kiddos so that we could have forty-eight hours straight to hold hands, look into each other's eyes and have uninterrupted conversations. We love you. You're our heroes!!
Well folks, as of now, no one is throwing up, the kids are at the grandparents', and we are packed to go. Yesterday we had to cancel our first reservation to avoid a major last minute cancellation fee. But this morning we booked a great room at another Bed and Breakfast that I think we'll like even better.
So, we're off. Thanks to those of you who prayed for me and my silly disappointment. There definitely are worse things that could've happened. Yet even in our silliness, God still shows us grace-abundant grace.
As long as no one else gets sick, we're going to be gone for two whole days...hiking, eating good food, sleeping and BEING QUIET!
It's been too long.
God showed us major grace in still allowing us to go. He didn't have to and I know it.
I almost pulled it off. It was supposed to be a surprise. And if you knew me and you knew my husband, you'd know that surprises just don't happen around here. That's simply because my husband is a great guesser and I just can't keep anything from him.
It all started a few months ago when he would whimsically say to me, "Let's get out of here just us. When can we go away for a few days?" To which I'd laugh and say, "Yeah right. We have four little kids for somebody to watch now. In your dreams. Maybe in another year or so when the littles are a bit older." But after a few times of him inquiring, I started thinking that maybe I shouldn't laugh it off as an impossibility. Maybe now was time. And even though it'd be difficult to figure out, that he was worth the trouble.
So I called in the troops, (grandparents on both sides who live ten minutes apart) and they very graciously agreed to watch all four of our monkeys for 24 hours each so that we could get two full days away. And then I swore them all to secrecy and was determined Steve would not find out the surprise this time.
That was over two months ago.
In the meantime, I researched bed and breakfasts in one of our favorite little local towns, looked up hiking trails, saved money for dinners out from cookie sales and kept my darn mouth shut. I did this for weeks.
Elliana was already losing interest in nursing so, I took the opportunity over a few months to wean her so that we could really be by ourselves. Steve has had to share me with either pregnancy or a pump for the last seven years when we've been able to get away and so this time I wanted to be free if possible.
Everything was going along swimmingly and I only had one more day to get through until early this morning when Joshua woke up crying. "Mommy, my tummy hurts!" I thought he was just hungry since he'd refused dinner the night before (he doesn't like tortellini so he didn't get dinner). I gave him a cracker and sent him back to bed. Meanwhile, I got up and went for a run. When I came home, Steve was with him and I saw it...the infamous bucket. And I knew, he was throwing up.
I took one look at the bucket and burst into tears. Steve was totally taken aback. I'm not a crier (ask any of my close friends and they'll tell you so) and so Steve was really shocked I was crying over throw up. What he didn't know was that I knew this was going to put a huge wrench in the plans I had so carefully made over the last two months. I couldn't help it. I just bawled.
When I got myself together, I told him the whole thing. He just sat there stunned. I kept blubbering, "I wanted to bless you. You weren't supposed to find out like this. Now it's all ruined." Real positive...yeah I know. Meanwhile, my poor little baby is laying next to our bed sick. Sometimes, we just can't see past ourselves huh?
As Steve and I talked through the situation including my major disappointment as to how it unraveled and the possibility of us cancelling, he reminded me yet again of God's sovereignty and how we deal with disappointment (after he held me...don't worry he didn't start out "fixing it"). It's like we always tell our kids. We plan and God secures our steps. Things happen in life. They can be super disappointing but we have to be thankful. And ultimately, if our kids are sick, they're our responsibility. That's part of being a parent...no one else needs to take that. It's on us even when it's totally inconvenient. Even when it ruins a potentially incredible weekend away.
I knew my kids were watching-especially Isaac. He was totally tuned in to me being upset. So I had to talk with him about it. I explained that I was disappointed that we might not be able to go away that weekend. But that I'd try and change my heart to be thankful that God had given me so much.
Whenever I think about it though, I still tear up. I am totally and completely disappointed in the whole thing. If Joshua gets better and no one else is sick tomorrow, we still might be able to go. But I had really wanted to surprise Steve. I had already pictured the look on his face when he came home from work discovering that all of the children were gone. It was going to be so perfect.
Yet sometimes, what I think is perfect just isn't what God has for me. This realization causes disappointment and often it causes pain. Yet for whatever reason, God moves for my good. I believe that. And really, this disappointment, although big at the moment to me, is really very small.
We can go another weekend.
I can be "true" to my disappointed feelings and have a good cry. But then I need to cast them aside, pick myself up and move on.
Being a mother has taught me this. And this situation is just another lesson in the grand scheme. There will be many others.
So if we don't get to go, I'll be teary but will try my best to be thankful. And if we do get to go, I'll be very pleasantly surprised.
Not totally the surprise I was looking for but hey....at least there will be a surprise somewhere in there.
Either way, God will help me deal with my unmet expectations and life will simply continue to roll on. It always does. And I'm thankful for it.
Just yesterday I officially weaned Elliana. She's 14 months. Right around a year old, I knew she was losing interest. So, as a result, I went ahead and let her drop feedings (at the time she still nursed at least seven times a day) letting go as we went. It's taken a few months but it's finally done.
The reason this is monumental for me is that I have been either pregnant or nursing for the last seven years.
Seven years...without a single break.
I got pregnant with Isaac in November 2004 and it's nearly September 2011. So yeah, seven years (minus two months for all you exactos out there).
I don't say that to complain. I really haven't minded it. In fact, I didn't start out with a love for nursing. I did it simply because it was free food for my baby. But the years went on, and the more children we had, the more I loved it. And the more I didn't want to give it up.
And it also turned out that each time I got pregnant again, I was always still nursing and would continue for another few months until the baby had weaned himself. I had a pretty good cycle going...pregnancy, nursing, pregnancy again, wean over time...and the cycle went on like that for yup, seven years. We didn't plan it that way. It just happened.
But now that cycle has been broken. I weaned Elliana and I'm not pregnant again. I knew the time would come. It's not that monumental. And really, there are so many freeing things about weaning.
Yet what I've realized is that a lot of my identity has been wrapped up in pregnancy, nursing and infants for so long now. And although it's wonderful to be done without another impending pregnancy, I do know that I'm nearing the end-the end of my childbearing years.
Lord willing we'll have one more. But after that, the chances of a sixth are pretty slim. If you remember, I've had some major complications. I had a c-section with my first due to him being breech at term. I VBAC'd with my second (so thankful for that!!) and attempted a VBAC with my third and ended up with a ruptured uterus (which only happens 1 % of the time and it's even more rare after a successful VBAC). We're lucky Joshua is alive with no complications. So Elliana was a scheduled c-section.
I've had three c-sections. There's only so much my body can bear. My uterus is already compromised. I'm super thankful I've been able to have four healthy children.
So I'm nearing the end and I've been contemplating this a lot. Have I enjoyed it enough? Have I celebrated the beauty of infancy and the miracle of life enough or have I just wished it over due to fatigue and frustration? How would I do things differently if I were given one more chance to bear another precious gift?
It's just what I've been thinking about. Nothing special. It's just been on my mind.
Yesterday morning though, God gave me a gift. Normally I would've been nursing Elliana while helping boys with uniforms and strapping on ties. But instead, Elle woke up a little earlier than the boys and so she and I sat on the couch with the sunlight spilling through the window and I nursed her for the last time.
I knew it would be the last time. Yet I didn't anticipate that quiet moment with her. And in that moment, I was able to play with her curls, drink her in and hold her close in order to burn the image of her so little into my memory forever.
It was a precious time. It was a gift.
And now, I'm excited to see what God brings in these coming years. It might be the end of an era but it's not the end. There's so much more than these little years. Yet as much as I've wanted them to just be over at times (due to fatigue, frustration, etc...) even more than that, I want to remember them and cherish them.
God has taught me so much about my own selfishness and greed, and how to sacrifice and live joyfully through these years. No job, situation or relationship could have taught me so much.
So I'll remember them as I look forward and thank God that He gave them to me. And as new things come, I'll try and take the biggest lesson with me as I go...relax, and enjoy the ride.
My husband loves to play music. Among his various hobbies, he has figured out over the years how to play a few different instruments one of them being the bass guitar. Yet, one of the things he loves the most about playing music is getting the opportunity to play with others...especially those that are better than himself. It gives him the chance to learn so much and it's fun.
A few years ago Steve was asked to play bass for a benefit concert here in our hometown. The group that played for the concert is called Brother Down. And the concert itself actually benefited one of the group's members named Chris. At the time, Chris was in the process of adopting a little boy from Ethiopia. That benefit concert helped raise funds to bring his son home. The little boy is almost three now and the exact same age as our Joshua. Brother Down resurrected themselves specifically for this benefit concert.
But Brother Down had been around before that. Many years ago now, Chris and his buddy Jordan formed Brother Down and wrote all of their music. Yet, at the time of the concert, it had been awhile since they played due to them needing to support their families and work a normal day job.
Chris is a great friend and also fellow teacher of Steve's. At the time of the concert, they were in need of a bassist and drummer. So they asked Steve and our other pal Devin to fill in. Steve absolutely loved playing with them, especially because their music is SO good. And over the last few years, he's played with them in a few different settings for fun. So although he definitely wasn't part of the original Brother Down, he got to get in on some of their fun from time to time.
This last summer Steve mentioned that they were going to record a Psalm or two. I had no idea why. I just thought it was just for kicks. And truly, they threw it together at the last minute due to managing all of their schedules (it was the end of school for three of them and the other one works nights). Yet, yesterday I finally found out why they had gone to the trouble. Evidently, they entered their Psalms into a Psalm Off put on by Canon Press.
Yes, I was totally clueless to this somehow.
And guess what? They won!!
Yesterday I went to my computer screen to check my email and saw someone had posted that Brother Down had won the contest. I thought to myself, "What contest?!" I couldn't believe it.
So even though Steve's not a part of the original band or anything, he's still had the wonderful opportunity to play with and learn from these very talented musicians. And now it looks like he will possibly get to record a CD of Psalms. How fun is that?
Oftentimes I forget that I live in the world. I'm so focused on my own little microcosm that I can hardly see anything else around me. Current events fly by without a notice. It's enough for me to take care of the husband and little people He's put into my life. And that's okay. Really. But recently, God has been reminding me that people around me are watching and I need to be aware.
It started with a conversation I had with my kids' pediatrician a few months back. I already blogged about that but truthfully, that conversation really struck me and got me thinking--who's watching? Of course my immediate family is and I better be genuine. There's nothing like a parent who loves to be kind to everyone around them except those who are closest to them. That's hypocrisy of the worst kind and it's not being a light. So of course I have to remember that my kids are watching. But for some reason, that's not what is difficult for me to remember.
What's hard for me to keep in mind is that others on the "outside" are watching. And I don't mean friends. I just mean people. What do they see? What am I emanating? Who do I look like? Do I look like Nikki or do I look like Christ?
There have been a few situations lately that have really brought this to light. One occurred a couple of weeks ago at the car dealership where we get our Pilot maintained. I have an ongoing, cordial relationship with the guy who deals with our car. I treat him with respect and he always takes care of me. There was a mix-up that ended up leaving me and the four kids stranded for almost two hours. Of course I wanted to be mad at him and he really expected me to be. As a result he came armed with all sorts of excuses about how it wasn't his fault. But, somehow God reminded me of that conversation with our ped and in the moment, with His grace, I changed gears and immediately thought, "He's watching...He knows I'm a Christian. How will I respond?"
Another reminder came this week. I started selling cookies and brownies again since school is back in session. You might remember that what started as a simple little stand last year to get extra cash during grad school, turned into a bustling little business. And this business brought with it the bonus of getting to know students and parents. I LOVE this part of the whole deal. Seeing a bunch of them back after the summer was wonderful. It was fun to catch up and see their faces shine when they talked about the sports they were participating in this fall.
But what was even more wonderful was what occurred on Friday night. There was a knock on our door at 9 o'clock and there stood two of Steve's former students and avid cookie clients. One of them was on his way off to college and wanted to say goodbye. We invited them in and had such a wonderful, candid conversation that took on a life of its own. Somehow marriage, love, divorce and God all got brought up at our little kitchen table with two teenage boys on the brink of making lifelong decisions. One of them straight up asked, "How do you know when you love someone? How do you know it will last?" Can anyone say Golden Opportunity???!!! I don't know if they'll remember anything from our conversation. But what I do know, is that it reminded me again...who's watching?
I often don't think I can do much beside take care of my family and live this little life God has given me. And really I can't. But God can take this insignificant little life and do whatever He wants to do. If I can just love my family like He wants me to, others will see it. That's the Light he's talking about. Often I think I need to go out into the world and do big things. And that doesn't include what I already do on an every day basis.
But big things are happening all the time as I move that never-ending pile of laundry and wipe bottoms. I'm small. I'm insignificant. But when I obey and work unto the Lord, God can do big things through my obedience. Why? Because His love is so different from the world for He's overcome the world.
If you're at home raising kids, you may think that there's not much else going on outside your own little world. But really, think about it! There's so many ways this can occur. I have friends who have built into young women God has brought across their path just by inviting them into their life to get a front row seat...to see the failures and the triumphs and how God brings beauty from all things. I also have friends who simply have the neighborhood at their house every afternoon and the kids they come in contact with get to see a family that loves one another despite the difficulties we all face in life.
This is where it's at. Knowing Jesus and loving Him is so utterly opposed to what is out there in the world that it's like a huge glare in the face of evil. It's bright. It's noticeable and it's beautiful!
Just love the ones God has given you and then be ready for others to be spectating.
School started for my family this week. What that means is that Steve and Isaac went back full-time yesterday and Caleb had his first day of Junior Scholars (preschool) today. Isaac was super excited that he gets to go to school all day (six hours to be exact...thank you little Mathy) and of course the husband was ready as well. They both slipped back into their routine fairly easily.
For Caleb, the transition was not so easy and once again, I found myself scratching my head trying to figure out how best to encourage him. I never had to deal with Isaac being afraid-ever. But Caleb is his own person with strengths and weaknesses and for him, school was terrifying. It's not that school itself was horrible. It was the idea of the unknown. I knew that once he went and saw how great it was, he'd be won.
But that's what it is with him and everything...he has to be won.
If he decides against something he puts all of his gusto, force, spirit and fight into HATING it. He's very black and white and likes to live in absolutes. Oftentimes we'll hear him saying, "I'll never (emphasis on never) go to that playground because it has a black slide there" or something to that affect. But then if you get him to see that the slide is fun and his fear is trying to trick him into not having fun, that slide will become his best friend and he will ride it until we say it's time to go home.
He just has to be won.
So I knew that he'd decided against school because it was unknown and that he'd have to be won. I wasn't sure how it would happen but figured we'd just play it by ear. The first part didn't go so well. I had Elliana on my back and Curious George Joshua at my side. Meanwhile Caleb wouldn't look at anyone and merely cried.
We went out to the car and I explained two things to him that were nonnegotiable:
1. He was going to school even if he was afraid.
2. I was eventually going to go home and he couldn't come with me.
After our little chat, we went back in with tears still streaming down his face. He was determined to hate it but what he didn't know was that I was even more determined for him to see the good and the fun in learning. I knew that once he got a taste of how sweet it was going to be, he'd be sold. As we arrived, they were singing the Hello Song. I saw him perk up just a little bit. Last year, at his little neighborhood preschool class, they sang the Hello Song and he loved it. When he sat down, they sang to him.
That did it.
He started to smile. The tears stopped and a minute later he was standing in line with everyone else. I never quite know what the magic formula will be causing him to take that giant leap over his fears but, when it happens, its effects are pretty immediate.
The littles and I stayed in the foyer for awhile to make sure he was past being upset. He glanced back at me every couple of minutes to make sure I was still there. Each time, his grin grew wider and when I saw his eyes sparkling, I knew it was okay for us to go. I gently told him I was on my way home and would see him soon. He just smiled.
When he got home at lunch today I asked him about school. He's a man of few words but what I got was this, "It was great Mom! Just GREAT! And I listened. I'm NOT pretending."
I knew it. I knew he'd love it. He just had to be won.
That kid is a walking mystery sometimes. He's so brave and tough yet so afraid at the same time. Steve always says he has to learn to fight what's bad not what's good. At this age, that's really hard for him to discern. Oftentimes, we have to be that lens for him. In other words, don't fight school. Fight your fears about school. If we can steer his fight in the right direction, he's going to make it.
He will have many more battles and dragons to fight over his lifetime. But it looks like the Be Afraid of School dragon has been slain. It took some familiarity, some courage and a bunch of God's grace.
Phew....glad that one's over. It was a little too close for my comfort. But that's what parenting Caleb does for me. It gets me close to that line where I don't know what to do, or how to best handle the situation and he gets me thinking outside the box again and again and again. God uses him to make us into better parents. Both Steve and I have such an affection for him because we seriously have to fight so hard for him sometimes!! We're determined not to let him go his own way because that way leads to death!! We love him too much.
We adore him, are so proud of him and are glad that this dragon is defeated. Especially since I'm sure it won't be long before we'll be fighting another one.
There's just so much that I didn't get to write about that happened toward the end of our summer here. One of the main things we got to do was take a really fun camping trip with Steve's side of the family. We had the perfect campsites. They were free of poison oak, had a huge amount of open space for the boys to run around in, were located right across from the bathrooms and just a short walk to Grandma and Grandpa's campsite.
We were right next to all of the cousins too so the boys all played from sun up to sun down. I think it was the best they've all played together and I really felt that in another year, it'd be even more relaxing for all of us adults. Bring it.
We took a couple of short hikes with all the kids, went to the General Store for ice cream, ate s'mores and got very dirty. By the way, I don't know why I bring multiple sets of clothes camping. I pretty much just end up wearing the same clothes nearly the entire time. Come on...does anyone else feel me? Anyhow...maybe that was too much information. One afternoon all of us girls got out on a really beautiful hike through the redwoods. It's rare that we can do that without children running around so it was a lot of fun and nice to enjoy the relative quiet.
The next afternoon Steve and I got to take a hike up to Pine Mountain which in itself was very fun and memorable for us. Right before we started dating over 11 years ago now, we hiked that very trail in the middle of the night, with the Camp Hammer 2000 staff (we camped very close to Camp Hammer).
When we hiked it eleven years ago, we made it to the top just in time for the sunrise. I remember Steve coming alongside of me, checking in to see if I was "okay". Ha ha. I was just fine thank you very much. A few days later, we finally had our first DTR (Define The Relationship) talk and the rest is history. We'd liked each other for months while attending Cal Poly but didn't officially start dating until that summer.
So not only was it really fun for us to get off by ourselves for two hours or so that afternoon, but it was special for us to remember that hike. We literally hadn't been up there since. God's done so much over these last eleven years. It was so humbling to realize. It made us remember with thankfulness.
I also got to catch up with a running buddy who lives/works up at Camp Hammer. She was such an encouragement to me every single summer I worked up at camp (three total) and God used her tremendously in those formative years. It was fun to reconnect with her. It was truly a blessing.
All in all, it was incredible time playing games, talking around the campfire and being together. And it ended with a much anticipated trip to Foster's Freeze just down the mountain (another one of our "date" spots many years ago) to get the boys their first dipped cones. So fun. We look forward to next year very much!!
My favorite man in the whole world turned 32 today. And if that wasn't good enough, my oldest son turned 6. Every year, when this day rolls around, I'm reminded of God's goodness to me. First of all, I have been given a wonderful, faithful husband. And through our union, God has given us a beloved son (and then another and another...and then a daughter...ha ha).
So today, for my boys, I put together yet another video commemorating them and the bond they have shared since Isaac's birth. For all Isaac has ever wanted to do is turn out like his Dad (all of them do). And if you're asking me, he couldn't want to be like a better person.
Happy Birthday you two. I love you more than anything or anyone. May God bless you both with many more years. And may you walk faithfully, trusting in the Lord with all of your hearts.
I remember. It was a Thursday exactly six years ago. We'd finally secured a permanent job for the husband just two weeks prior and had gotten a "new" car given to us by a generous family in our church after our others had been totaled-one by a drunk driver hit-and-run, the other by a careless out of town driver. We had packed our apartment and were ready to move on my husband's 26th birthday-the next day.
Six years ago I was on the brink of motherhood. I was bursting with child, scared, moving to a new town, tired from packing every single belonging we owned into boxes and unsure of what the future would hold.
And then at my last doctor's visit that very Thursday, I found out that the precious little boy inside had turned around. As in, he flipped footling breech and I would not be able to have the natural birth I had really wanted.
And on that Thursday six years ago, the reality of impending parenthood hit hard as we were told he'd be coming via c-section the next morning. His Daddy's birthday. Our moving day. My in-law's anniversary. Now our little one's birthday.
A few tears sprang to my eyes this morning as I remembered those moments. So much has happened since that day.
We grew from two to three then. Now we are six.
We were afraid. We were broken. We were vulnerable and unsure of how things would turn out. But amidst these fears, God gave us the grace needed to do what needed to be done in the face of our fears.
He gave us the courage to be brave. Not that we weren't afraid of all of the changes but, that we could face the unknown and keep walking. That's bravery anyway. It's not the absence of fear. It's the walking forward amidst and even despite fears.
Birth never goes how you think it will. Everyone has their story. That was just ours. But looking back, there was so much grace, so much beauty and so much love that surrounded us. God was with us and He cared for us.
It will always be a major milestone for Steve and me. One that we will never forget. And in the end, we beheld Isaac...our Isaac, born into the world at a crazy time, in an unexpected way. God wove it all together and it was beautiful.
His beauty always is.
Six years ago today God helped us be brave. And the next day we received one of our greatest gifts...our first son. Our laughter. Our joy. Our light. Our gift.
To the untrained eye, he looks so harmless. Yet, these little suckers are evil; just plain evil!! A crafty little creature, just like this one, decided to make its home in our......
wait for it........
Yup, that's right. Right in our awesome, high powered, Honda Pilot. And wreaking havoc is an understatement of what this little mouse did to our wiring.
So, in exchange for one mouse "home", we got a $550 bill. OUCH!
When I found out how much it would be to fix the "problem" I wanted to hyperventilate. But then I was reminded of three very important things.
1. God is sovereign. He knew all about that mouse and He allowed him to make his home there. Oh well. Deal with it.
2. It's a small problem in comparison to many things. All it did was cost us money. That's it...and then it was fixed. I can't be upset about that.
3. In past years, like our first few years married, we never would've been able to handle a repair like that. It would've wiped us out financially. So I'm thankful that we've grown up enough and have become more stable to be able to take care of these types of things. It's truly a blessing. Really it is.
Yet I still strongly dislike those little guys. I used to feel bad if we caught a mouse and had to kill it. But after this, they're officially on my bad list. Die little suckers...die!! I'm seeking revenge for my car!!
When I get to heaven, I'm going to ask God why He made rodents. I don't think I've ever been able to think of a good reason they're around. But then again, I am puny and know nothing so...maybe it'll be better if I don't ask.
Either way, the mouse is gone, the car is back up and running smoothly, and I have wheels. I think in the end, I have a lot to be thankful for.
Whew! It's been a whirlwind the last few weeks. But I'm happy to say that our kitchen is put back to rights, we had a blast camping with family and we even got to go on an extended date up in San Francisco (of which I have no pics because I forgot our camera) last Friday. Since I've been on very limited blogging, I've got a lot to catch up on.
I wanted to say some other things about our fabulous trip to Disneyland though that ended up making our trip great. The first thing was that we had extra adults with us. If you have really little ones who can't ride the bigger rides, then it makes it difficult to get on any big rides with the older kids who are tall enough because an adult has to ride with each one. We weren't sure what our older boys would think about the big rides but they ended up riding them all and loving them. Who knew?
We also utilized the Fast Pass/Parent Swap strategy. Now I married a mathy and so the wheels of his brain started turning and he quickly figured out how to maximize our ride power with the Parent Swap strategy. The truth of the matter is this...if we would've had to wait two hours in line to get on Space Mountain, we just plain wouldn't have done it. But with a Fastpass, you come back at your appointed time and are on the ride in less than fifteen minutes. Yet you are limited to one Fastpass every two hours on each ticket you have. So this took a little finagling.
Early on the second day we discovered that Disney offers a Parent Swap option. What it means is this: if one parent has to stay with small children, the other parent waits in line (or shows up with his fastpass), tells the ride attendant he wants to do a parent swap; then he gets a pass, rides the ride and then goes and gets his spouse (or anyone, a grandparent, uncle, friend, etc..) who gets right on the ride without waiting. And with the Parent Swap option, Steve discovered that you really can get two Fastpasses for the "price" of one. It's like a tongue-twister...Fastpass, Parent Swap...Does that even make sense? It didn't totally make sense to me but, it seemed to work every time. What it equaled was more big ride opportunities for everybody.
You never know what your older kids will want to ride. We didn't think ours (who aren't very old) would want anything to do with the roller coasters. But they loved them. They loved all of them except they didn't care for Space Mountain-which was the first one they rode. Luckily that didn't ruin it for them. It really could've gone either way. Yet after that, Splash Mountain, Star Tours, Big Thunder Mountain railroad...they were game. So like I said, you never really know.
What do you think? You think they liked Space Mountain? Ha ha ha! They said it was way too fast for them. I think they didn't like it that it was so dark. By the way, this is all my family in one car...both of my brothers, my brother's girlfriend, Steve, myself and my Dad. My mom and sister-in-law were with the little ones. This picture totally cracks me up!!
So having extra adults around, utilizing the Parent Swap and maximizing the Fastpass made it possible for us to still get a lot of bang for our buck when it came to rides. The kids did a lot of other rides too like Autopia, the Rockets, the Merry Go Round, Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Light Year and other littler rides. All in all, the thrill of Disneyland did not disappoint and it was a magical time for all...including all of us grown-ups who really are just kids at heart. It's hard not to be nostalgic about such a beautiful, happy and fun place. I'm thankful we got to visit this summer and look forward to more trips in the future!
Well, I'm so sorry but...we've been on vacation for the last two weeks....first Disneyland/visiting some of our best friends from Cal Poly, a mini reprieve complicated by the house remodeling, and then a family camping trip. It's back to the real world on Monday, when I will assume my blogging skills with reckless abandon. Truly, I've missed it. But we've been having a ball. Hope you're all doing well and that there have been many chocolate and marshmallows in your diet. Ah, the delights of summer. Ta ta!
I am Nikki Dauphin, wife to Steve since July 2002, and mom to four boys and one little girl. Currently my husband is pursuing his PhD in mathematics, so as you can imagine, with five kids in tow, there are many adventures to behold! I'm learning how to raise a brood of boys and one precious princess, be a homemaker, how to be a lovely wife to my handsome and dashing husband and how to love those around me. Stop and stay awhile. Family stories, recipes, musings on life and lessons I'm learning are all a part of this blog. I love the life I've been given and thank God for His many blessings.
Steve-My amazing, fix-it, brilliant, math-loving, puzzle-solving husband is a Math PhD student pursuing his graduate degree through Colorado State University. He is also a Year Round Graduate Intern for Sandia National Labs researching and working on projects related to national security and preparing for his dissertation. We met at Cal Poly, SLO and were married in 2002. Seriously, he's my best friend.
Isaac-Laughter. My precious firstborn. Blue-eyed, blondie, logical, lefty. Particular, orderly, courageous, funny, and intelligent. Sees the world in patterns, numbers, colors and shapes. My first son. My joy.
Caleb-Brave. My mischevious secondborn. Brown-haired, coal-eyed, soldier. Needs explanations about how the world works. "Mathy", inquisitive, architectural and mechanical. Silly, passionate, tough, long-suffering and smart. My second son. My love.
Joshua-Saved by the Lord. My irreplaceable thirdborn. Bubbly, gregarious, social and playful. Loves to be surrounded by his family. Cuddly, kissable, chubby and charming. Life of the party, full of joy, overflowing with humor and laughter. My third son. My light.
Elliana-The Lord Has Heard. My long-awaited daughter. Petite, dark-eyed, beauty. Strong, coordinated, cheeky and spunky. Sharp as a tack and a flitting socialite. Loved by every member of her family. My fourth born. My only daughter. My treasure.
Nathan-God Has Given. My fourth son. Yet, it never gets old. My youngest little gift. Gentle, strong, sweet, angelic. Blonde and light-eyed. Littlest of them all but full of life and love. My fifth born. My littlest man. God's given. My gift.
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