Friday, December 21, 2012


Today is the last day before Christmas Break.  The husband has been grading finals non-stop for days, in preparation for closing the books this weekend and my older boys all had Christmas parties to end out the year and ring in the coming celebrations.  I feel like I've been on the edge of my seat waiting for this break.  I need to get the baby on a better nap schedule.  That's not easy to do when I'm shuttling kids to school every morning.  But if I can get him into a better rhythm on break then that will carry through once the driving starts again.  I need to catch up on things around the house due to a month of feeling malaise and the general craziness of Christmas.  And I need to just rest.  Rest my mind, rest my heart and rest my spirit.  What better time than to do it over vacation?

Last night Steve and I had a brief talk before bed about the coming year.  So many things on the docket.  The main thing is our family making it through to Steve's graduation from Texas A & M in May.  It's been three years of running this race.  After this brief rest, I feel myself ready to gird up my loins for running the final miles in this marathon. But I also feel myself tiring.  Tiring of the pace, tiring of the cheering, tiring of the ups and downs and tiring of the single parenting.

I knew I'd get to this point.  Part of it is simply being able to have a taste of what's to come.  The other part is just ordinary weariness.  All of it though, needs to be laid down.  Sometimes, amidst me fighting with my heavy load on my back, Steve will look at me and say, "Lay your burden down.  Just lay it down."  I don't know why I fight so hard sometimes especially when God tells me to lay it down.  I feel like if I don't fight then I won't succeed or someone I love won't succeed.

I've got a lot of dreams.  Those dreams are what have helped sustain me over these past three years.  Now that things are starting to wind up, it's been interesting to see what God is doing with those dreams.  I don't know the path He has for us.  I don't know all of the details.  But I do know that when we commit our path to the Lord, our plans succeed because they are His plans.  So I'm trying to let go and see where He leads.

Whenever I'm on the edge of something in my life, I always mull it over, think of every detail and stress over it.  It's hard not to.  But truly, I need to just sit back and enjoy the ride.  With the birth of every child I have done this.  I've grown scared as their birth approached of all that could go wrong and about the unknowns of the little one inside.  Every child that is but Nathan.  With him, since I knew he was probably my last, I chose to believe that no matter what occurred when he was born, who he turned out to be or how the whole thing came off, I would enjoy it.  I would simply enjoy the process and not worry (I can't say I never worried but, I didn't worry much which is saying a lot for me).  His birth, and the recovery from his c-section was by far my best.  I just enjoyed the process.  And I've enjoyed his infancy the most of all my children.

That's what I want to do now.  We've got one semester left.  I know someday, when we're on the other side of this and big life decisions have already been made, that we'll look back on these days with fondness.  I know it.  Because God always directs our steps.  Always.  And even in difficulty, His plans are beautiful and oh so perfect.

Last night I told Steve I was ready.  I was ready to let go of where we are now and to embrace what is to come.  I'm ready.  I'm ready to fly.  I'm ready to enjoy the fruit of our labor and I'm ready to have him back in our lives on a regular basis.  I'm ready for us to learn a new normal.  I'm ready whatever it all means.  These past years have brought much fruit and have been sweet.  But I'm ready to put this all aside and to spring forth into something new.    

We've worked so hard for this moment in time.  I don't want to fritter it away in fretting.  And I don't want to just get through.

I want to see it.  I want to taste it.  I want to bask in it.  I want to live it.

I want to live it even if it's unknown.  I simply just want to tangibly live it. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Online Shopping, Stubbornness and Weakness {Three Very Unrelated Yet Related Things}

Welp, Christmas is off to the races here.  We've got paper snowflakes, we've got wrapping paper, stocking stuffers, advent wreaths, school parties, advent calendars, Luke 2 recitations, paper chains and presents, presents, presents!  I did an amazing thing this year that saved me so much time and stress-I shopped almost exclusively online!  Yes!

Now if you know me well, you will know that I am totally and utterly opposed to changing my ways.  Sometimes this serves me well.  Sometimes it does not!  So much so, that I balk and mock such things like iPhones, texting, facebook, etc. until I simply must update and join the masses.  I eventually have to give in but usually not without dragging my feet!  However, since I'm fashionably late like this in so many areas (except in actually being late to events-in that I'm usually punctual), I always figure I'll catch up someday but until I must, I stick to my ways, no matter how inefficient.  This is stubburnness at its greatest by the way.  Total irrationality dressed up in dignity!  Ha!

By the way, I just got an iPhone a month ago.  Before that we didn't even have texting on our cell (and we're so stone ages that we share a cell phone-yes, we do).  And yes, it took me a few weeks to learn how to use the phone.  And I still write texts that are entirely too long!  I just refuse to "talk" texting talk!  It must be English people!

But I digress.  Back to online shopping.  In theory I'd love to go out to the stores, look at everything, feel everything and then pick something out that I know will light the faces of my children up.  But listen, I simply don't have time for such shenanigans anymore.  I just don't.  So instead of grinding my heels into the sand yet again, I turned to online shopping out of desperation and lo and behold, it won!  It's not that I've never bought anything online before.  It's just that I never did all of my Christmas shopping online.  This year, that's pretty much what occurred.

Just like Facebook, texting and the iPhone.  I've been won over.  I'm just fashionably late to the whole deal.  So shoot me eh?!

Onto other news.  This last week has marked a significantly wonderful increase to my overall health.  I don't know what was ailing me for about a month BUT I am happy to say that it is finally running scared.  Today I feel pretty normal.  Yesterday I did too.  It's amazing how we take our health for granted.  I can't tell you how many times I shuddered when I realized that many people schlep themselves through life on a daily basis not feeling well!  And really, I could easily be one of them.  It's an entirely difficult and discouraging thing to wake up morning after morning feeling zapped of energy before your feet hit the floor.

To be honest, I think God was really trying to teach me a lesson.  And He may not be done yet.  I am a creature that relies heavily on her own youth and strength.  I think most busy moms do.  I also have a huge difficulty in asking for help.  This combination can be deadly by the way.  I don't like putting other people out and I feel like my kids are my sole responsibility.  And these traits are good.  No one likes a mooch.  But sometimes, we are just weak.  Sometimes, we need to look around and ask others to care for us.  I think there is a difference in taking advantage of other people's kindness and just simply needing a real, honest to goodness rest.  We are called to work hard but when our legs give out beneath us, it's okay to reach for those around us.  Being strong by ourselves is about pride.  As a dear friend said to me recently, "Don't refrain from asking for help because you don't want people to think you can't do it.  That's pride.  Cut that out.  Be weak and ask for help!"

She loves me.  I took her criticism well, don't worry.

So I asked for help.  A few times.  It hurt my pride to do it.  But I literally had no other choice.  And I'm thankful that my body seems to be bouncing back.

Well, my littles are all waking up from their sleep and I've got piles, PILES of laundry to take care of all while making dinner. Hmmmm....I better sign off.

It felt good to let my fingers fly a bit.  I've missed all you people.  Hope you're doing well and that you're enjoying the Christmas season!

Talk soon....

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sick (Or Why I Haven't Been Blogging)

It's been two whole weeks since my last post!  Two whole weeks!  I almost can't believe it!  I haven't been trying to neglect you all but up until just recently, I have been quite sick.  And many other crazy things have been going on amidst my mysterious sickness.  I believe I am doing better and will be back to fairly regular programming soon.

Missing my words but glad for the past few weeks of rest when I've been able.

Lots on my mind.

Will get to my thoughts soon.

Until then, stay warm, love those around you, meditate on Christ and the Advent Season, and be well.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Forever Behind...But It's Okay.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might..." Ecclesiastes 9:10

So I am really far behind.  And when I say behind, I mean it.  I don't think I've ever felt quite this far behind on things since becoming a mom.  Transitioning to number five hasn't been a breeze but it hasn't been as difficult as you might think either.  Now that Nathan is going on four months, he's great.  Yet, I still haven't caught up from it all.  And I don't know when I will.  Everywhere I turn, I see something that needs my attention, something that is being neglected or something that needs doing.  The more I see, the more I just want to hyperventilate about it all so I have to consciously shut it off or I'll throw myself into a frenzy.

So that's what I've been doing.  I've been throwing my hands over my ears and yelling, "La la la la la" Jim Carrey style whilst trying to find just one thing to do, attempting to finish it and then starting something else.  I haven't caught up yet.  I probably won't for a really long time (if I ever do).

I'm just forever behind.  Always behind.  There's too much to be done.  Back in the day, I used to be able to get the laundry done before it piled up again.  That ended after number three came along.  Now the clothes pile up in two seconds flat and I'm still folding some of the last loads from last week's laundry when Monday rolls around again.  And hear me here, my kids help out, a lot!  They help fold clothes, have daily chores and help me clean the house once a week.  They're a huge help.

Yet, I'm still behind.  Always behind.

As I stare, or rather cringe at all of the unfinished business around, I've been thinking a lot about my job here and what it takes to keep things running.  It's tempting to be super discouraged about my seemingly insurmountable tasks.  For someone like me, who is extremely driven and task oriented, this type of living can be overwhelming.  Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to hold back the waves with the palm of my hand.  As you can imagine, not really that effective.

However, I'm reminded, there's nothing new under the sun.  Whatever season of life I find myself in, I pretty much always feel slammed.  I think that's how most people feel.  And you know what, I think that in some ways, it's good.  There's something to falling into bed every night bone tired.  We weren't made to coast.  We were made with a purpose to work.  And my little life might be busy, but it's not unproductive.  The everyday dealings with each child are reminders to me that my job, although extremely busy, definitely matters.  I'll probably always be behind, but I must keep chipping away because the little eternal souls placed in my care need me much more than I need rest.  God will give me rest.  God will care for my heart.

I might have to remind the little Miss to pick-up her never-ending strew of outfits from the day a million times.  But I must not despair, I'm teaching her to pick-up after herself.  If I don't, she'll be the biggest slob known to mankind when she's older and capable of being an even bigger fashionista.

Or I may want to keep naptime as my quiet haven and not read to my little man or have him practice his reading.  It'd be easier that way and much less work.  It's easier in the short term, but the benefits are only for me.  He desires to get better at reading.  And I am his biggest fan.  Why should I not sit down and work with him?  Why should I shine reading to him as well?  Sometimes, I may have to put these things off but if I'm capable of doing them, isn't it more important to fill his mind with good stories and his soul with the Bible?

And of course, there's the listening to this funny chap while he sits on the toilet.  His favorite thing is for me to sit on the floor next to him while he tells me some imaginative story-with the door closed of course!  It always starts with some large animal and ends with wide-eyes and some bad guys being killed, followed by a swift wipe and he is off to the next thing.  What about those words that are stored up in his heart?  If I don't listen, who will?  For only a mother can care about these such things.  If I am too good to listen, where will his little imaginations go?

My oldest might not need me physically as much anymore but he needs me so much emotionally.  He has big questions.  He has dreams and he has concerns.  If I don't address his concerns and indulge his dreams, how will he ever learn to grow up and be responsible?  How can he learn to trust me if I sluff off his true feelings as unimportant?

The baby needs me in the most basic ways but he has a soul too.  His heart overflows with love as we "talk" and I cradle him in my arms.  His blue eyes dance as his belly jiggles with laughter.  And the more I work to meet his needs, the more I fall in love with him.

And don't forget the most important person of all-this amazing man.  Everything else in this house pales in comparison to him.  I love my children more than anything but I am in love with this handsome man.  Apart from Christ, he is my whole world and that won't ever change.  What he needs trumps everything else.  Except his ironing...don't talk to me about that.  I've been behind on that for about a year now. 

None of it is drudgery.  It might be hard.  I could get frustrated.  I most definitely will never catch up on everything, but it's all good work.  Lately I've been reminded that I should keep at it, day after day after day.  Somedays I may just be putting my head down.  Others might be easier to laugh amidst the chaos.  Somedays may end in tears.  Whatever it is, it's all from the hand of God.

It's His work that He's given me.  And I am to attack it, live with it, flourish in it and revel in it, with all of my heart.  I can't stand the never-ending messes and look forward to the day when I won't be rubbing baby spit-up into my clothes when I don't have a burp cloth handy.  But I'm thankful for work.  It keeps me busy, happy and just plain tired.

Which, if you ask me (most days that is), it is a great place to be.

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not fo rmen, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ..." Colossians 3:23-24

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Welcome to the Covenant

Our precious little Nathan was baptized today, prayed over, blessed and dedicated to God.

Many special people in our lives were there to witness the event.  And he didn't even cry when he got doused with water.  Surprisingly, none of the babies did.

Our hearts are full.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Little Helper

This morning, it was just the little girl and me (plus the baby of course).  And there wasn't much on our docket.  So we decided to bake and bake and bake.  We had a stack of ripe bananas so we made banana bread and then we prepped dinner.  As we went along it was so fun to talk to her and show her everything I was doing and why.  I love to do that with all of my kids but, it's just really special to teach her in that way.  It just is.

One of my favorite things about Elliana is her desire to accessorize herself in whatever way she chooses.  Some days it is bracelets, necklaces and pretty shoes.  Other days it is whatever shoes she can find in my closet.

Today, her chosen accessory was Daddy's beanie.

And everytime she puts something on, she says, "So pretty."  Except it comes out like this, "Soooo peritty Mommy.  So peritty."

So of course, once she donned the hat she beamed, "So peritty.  Show Daddy."  Isn't it amazing how innate that desire is for a little girl to be beautiful to her Dad?  Too bad Daddy was at work.  He would've melted.

I love, love, love having lots of boys.  They are so fun, rough, matter-of-fact and playful.  And in some respects, pretty straightforward.  I truthfully am so glad that God gave me so many of them.

But even so, I'm thankful God gave me one girl so that I could get a glimpse into what it means to raise a daughter.

I still look at her in wonder and pray that we'll bring her up to be graceful, loving, cheerful, and kind.  For every little girl wants to be beautiful.  But you can't be beautiful on the outside without the inside being beautiful.

It's a tall order to raise a girl in this day.  Everyday my husband sees the fall out of broken marriages and hard family situations all over the lives of his students.  The girls are especially heartbreaking.  We talk about it often for it can be discouraging to him.  It gives us even more motivation to try and set our own kids on the right path as best as we can.

Apart from Elliana knowing Christ, we want her to be confident, courageous and hard working.  I want her to know that we're behind her and that we think she can succeed at whatever she sets her mind to.  But we also want her to be confident about embracing her femininity and all that being a woman entails.  That includes the amazingly important tasks of being a Christian woman, a wife, a mother and a homemaker (whether you work outside the home or not, you're still a homemaker).  It takes an incredible amount of grace to pull all of these roles off well.  Grace, diligence, creativity and intelligence.  

And in moments like this morning, I definitely feel privileged to pass it all on.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Soaking Him In {3 Months Already}

This little half-pint is three months old today.  I feel like we've hit another big landmark.  We're out of the itty bitty stage but not onto the more complicated stuff like solid food and becoming mobile.  It's what I lovingly call the honeymoon stage.  Nathan still eats and sleeps a lot but he's also more alert to play some and as a result, we're getting to know him more and he has stolen all of our hearts.

I can't believe we're already here.

I've been soaking this little man in as much as I can.

I know now that it all slips away much too fast.

Sometimes at night, after he's eaten, I swaddle him back up and then just rock him for as long as I can.  I know I should go back to bed for another hour or so of sleep, but I just can't until I've held him for awhile.  He's much too precious.  And I know I may never have another little one like this again.

Life is made up of stages.  There are seasons.  Every ending marks a new beginning and I am okay if he's our last.  However, after so many babies, I have finally learned to really enjoy them.  To let go of the things that don't matter and to hold onto the things that do.  To marvel at their coos, breathe in their sweet smell, and be amazed at every little accomplishment.

Thankful for this fifth time around.

Very, very thankful.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Belated Halloween

Well, I decided to take my sweet time with these pictures.  Sorry for the delay.  I'm sure you were all on the edges of your seats waiting!  Ha!  These are mostly for the grandparents.
Halloween round these parts is a big affair.  It always is.  This year was no different.  I love Halloween.  I know some people don't approve of it but, I love it.  I love any sort of reason to celebrate.  And what kid doesn't love dressing up and getting treats!  Our only rule is that our kids can't dress up like "the other team" with scary or evil costumes.  We're Christians so we want to represent Christ in how we dress.  Other than that, they can have at it!!

We had quite a few cute little people all dressed up.  We had a Giants player, technically Brian Wilson (injured Giants pitcher), Cinderella complete with her own pair of glass slippers (thanks Mom), a valiant Knight and the cutest elephant I've ever seen.  Joshua's favorite stuffed animal is his Doey, or better known as an elephant.  So he wanted to be a Doey.  We had to make his costume since every elephant outfit I saw was over $50 (thanks Grandpa for the safety ear phones-they helped make the perfect ears).
He looked adorable.
 Elliana with her best pal Evangeline.  These two are thick as thieves.
Our diamond in the rough.  We only own one girl movie and it is Cinderella.  Naturally, she loves it.
The fearless Knight!!  We've had that suit of armor since Isaac and Caleb were toddlers.  Amazing it's lasted so long!  My two eldest are growing too fast for me.  I just adore them so much.
And the cutest little pumpkin you ever did see.  Three out of my four boys have worn this outfit and I must say, I love it.  Little Nathan helped me pass out candy to the neighborhood.
Pre-trick-or-treating pictures with the neighbors.  We're so thankful we live in such a safe, non-scary place to go hunting for candy.
They all came back with loads of candy.  This mama is trying her darndest NOT to eat it.  I've been sending it in lunches and letting them eat a piece after dinner.  Pretty soon I'll have to start throwing some of it away.  Come on people, I'm trying to fit back into my clothes by Christmas (which is my Christmas present to myself)!  I've got to get that stinking candy outta here!!

All in all, it was a pretty fun Halloween.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one.  The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable.  For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.  GK Chesterton, What's Wrong With the World
July 20, 2012 Our 10 Year Anniversary
I'll never forget the first time I saw an ad for eHarmony.  I about barfed.   The ad promised a lifetime of love based on their patented test of compatibility.  I remember being disgusted.  It felt like one big marketing scheme to me and as such, it reeked of insincerity.  Now, I don't claim to know much about eHarmony's test.  If you were matched by them and are happy, so be it.  I bet there are marriages that have come out of this program and are doing fine.  But eHarmony's matching system, based on a certain formula of compatibility, isn't what procured their success.  Even though eHarmony's whole premise is that being compatible is what makes a good relationship.  

I beg to differ.  If you were to stack up the similarities between me and that handsome man above, you might find five, maybe ten now that we've been married longer.  I mean, just start with our major strengths.  The husband is a math savant.  I, on the other hand, am a wordsmith (ha!).  Two very different people at the core.  We're technically incompatible.  Yet we still work and we work well; really well. 

In a world of failing marriages, it's no wonder people are grasping at anything to figure out how to make a marriage work.  Many people aren't learning what true love is from their own families so, they feel they've got to figure it out for themselves.  And the lie of compatibility has so pervaded our culture that it's easy to latch on to it believing that if you can just find that one person that fits you like a glove, well then love will be easy.  You won't have to work at it.  You'll just be compatible and all will be well.

This is just not the case.

I'm not an expert on marriage.  I've only been married ten years.  And in our marriage we've had some hard times but we haven't faced any biggies yet, although I know we will.  It's inevitable.  Our trials have been pretty trivial.  But there are some things that I have learned so far and this is an important one:  

Love isn't about being perfectly matched.  It's about striving.

Striving?  Striving after what?

Let me see if I can explain what I mean.  Way back in the day, nearly 12 years ago now, Steve and I had just started dating and the topic of love came up a few times.  I was scared to death of it.  Steve seemed calm as a cucumber about it (our typical roles even now).  He explained to me that he thought love was simply a choice.  You choose one person and then you love them, regardless of what comes.  Of course you want to be sure you're making a good choice but once you're sure, then it's simple after that.

I understood what he meant.  But I'm a romantic.  And to me that seemed totally and completely UNromantic (now this was because I was young and stupid).  So, I would ask him why he loved me.  I wanted to know WHY.  What was it about me that he loved (notice the blatant self-centeredness)?  Was it because I was beautiful to him (every girl wants to be beautiful to someone-that's innately God-given)?  Or was it because I was so clever?  Maybe it was because I was funny or perhaps it was simply because I was a hard worker.  He'd then respond that although I was those things, they weren't the reason he loved me.  It was simply that he'd chosen me and that he'd love me until God chose to part us.

I didn't like it-not one bit.  It bothered me for some reason.  I wanted to know all of the reasons we were compatible and how I'd made his dreams come true.  I wanted to know this because simply put, it was all about me.

Fast forward another year and a half and we were married.  Very slowly in those early years, I began to understand what he was talking about.  You see, he saw everything.  He knew all of my faults.  He knew what I looked like without makeup or what I was like when I was sick.  He also knew bigger things like the deepest things in my heart, my sins, my shortcomings and my failures.  I couldn't just put my best foot forward and hide the rest.  No, he knew it all.  And the longer we were married the more thankful I was that he had simply chosen me.  For many things in life are fleeting-beauty, youth, accomplishments, money.  But a promise, a promise lasts forever.  And he'd simply promised to love me no matter what.  

It wasn't about him.  It was about loving me.  By his example, I started to learn the same thing.  It wasn't about me.  It was about loving him.  Wanting to be everything he dreamed of was about my own pride.  And pride is one of the main barriers to a good marriage (among many other things).  But love is striving for the other.  It's fighting whatever gets in the way to love that person.  It's not an end.  It's a means.  It's the striving for another that ends in love.

And that my friends is extremely romantic.

I see it now.  

The commitment to love over the years is what produces romance.  You can't simply be romantic.  It happens over time.  It's a byproduct of putting your own needs to the side, choosing to love someone and then living life with their best interest in mind.  This produces the best stories.  This is the stuff dreams are made of.  

Romantic to me now is him still loving me after five children have stretched my body into so many contortions  I don't even know it myself anymore.  Romantic to me now is him reaching for my hand in the dark while we sleep or him dreamily telling me he loves me while I'm nursing the baby at 4 am.  Romantic to me now is him working every single day for our family so that we can have every comfort and all we need.  Romantic to me now is him gently pointing out when I'm wrong and encouraging me to do what's right, yet still loving me regardless.

This is romance.  It takes time.  And it's built on a commitment that has no strings attached.  It's not based on chemistry or compatibility.  Nor is it something that comes easily.  It must be worked at.  And it starts with a choice.

I'm not that same girl I was twelve years ago (thank God).  And if Steve had loved me based on what I was then, well we'd be up a creek.  I'm older and have more gray hair!  We're not together now because both of us thought we were the best match or that either person was perfect.  Rather we're together because we must make it work.  There isn't another choice.  His faults and my faults regardless.  We've chosen one another.   

So there's just simply no other way.

But here's the caveat that all of this is based on-Christ.  We both have submitted to a higher authority than ourselves and that's what makes our foundation sure.  God tells us to love each other for life.  So we choose, we commit and then we trust that God will help us.  The minute our incompatibility becomes apparent, we fight it and in doing so, over time, no matter the circumstances, because of our steadfastness, our story grows lovelier and more beautiful over time.

This process is the oldest story ever told.  It's called redemption.  God takes even the ugliest things that seem beyond repair and restores them, making them beautiful.  Every good marriage is an incredible redemption story that preaches to the world.  But it's not perfection that it preaches, it's the Good News of the gospel.  God's redemption of mankind.  The ultimate romance story.

Christ saving His Bride, the Church, is the most amazing love story of all.

Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  Ephesians 5:31,32


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My New Best Friend

I have wanted boots like these babies for about a year.  And I have had a gift card to a cute little boutique shop that sells shoes since my birthday in March.  A couple of weeks ago I finally went down to the store and tried on some boots.  While at the little shop, I fell in love with one pair but they didn't have my size.  The style and price were all perfect!  But the size was not.  Boo!  They only had 7s and I needed a 6 1/2.  If my husband wasn't there I would've just bought the boots and worn thick socks.  But my husband, Mr. Logical, reminded me that it was best to get the right size or my feet might hurt or even get blisters.  Whatever.  I wanted those boots and I never get to go shopping.  I wondered if I'd even get another chance to get down there before next year.  Plus, isn't beauty pain??!  I was also hoping to get a pair before we took our family pictures the weekend we were in SLO.  I ended up having to borrow some.

After that rare shopping trip, I made every effort to get my hands on a size 6 1/2 to no avail.  I made multiple phone calls.  I looked online.  The more I was turned down, the more determined I became.  After many failed attempts I thought I had finally gotten them when the store said they were back in.  So I had them hold a pair, only to make it all the way down to the store (40 minutes from home) to find out that they were the wrong style.

People, this is why I never go shopping.  Too much hassle.  Too much heartache.  And not enough time to deal with other peoples' incompetencies.

But I was determined and I must say, in the end, my stubbornness finally won out.

Saturday night Steve and I got out on our first date without Nathan.  I have finally gotten the little man to go down at 7 pm and only be woken for feedings until the next morning, so I knew I could safely leave Nathan for two hours or so.  In the evenings, he sleeps so soundly, kinda like, you know, a baby!!  Ha!  Steve had taken an 8 hour exam that day and so I arranged for us to head out to a late dinner while my parents put the other kids to sleep.  My parents live pretty close to downtown so in an effort to be close by if the baby decided to balk at my careful planning, we went there for dinner.  But I also had an ulterior motive.

I wanted those boots gosh darnit and I was going to look at the shop again.  While I was packing for the day at my parents' house, I remembered my gift certificate on the off chance I might actually get to use it this time.

After checking with the workers I quickly discovered they didn't have the boot I wanted.  So I went searching.  I was going to find one just like it.  And my hard work paid off.  They had one that looked nearly identical.  In fact, I think it was even cuter than the one I really had wanted.  I cringed when I asked for the 6 1/2 thinking that they probably wouldn't have it and I would have fallen in love with yet another pair of boots I couldn't have.

But I was wrong.  Out walked the saleslady with those adorable boots and once I slipped them on, I knew it was worth the wait.

They were perfect.

I'm not very stylish and I'm usually way behind the times on these sorts of things.

But I understand now how a pair of boots can be a girl's best friend.

Because currently that's what they are...they go with me wherever I go.

We're pals ya know.  I feel so trendy, so "with it", so I don't know, stylish!  Ha ha!  Just me and my silly brown boots.  

And P.S. Don't tell him I said this but the husband was right :).  It definitely feels good to be wearing the right size.    

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Last weekend our family had a much-needed getaway to our favorite place on earth-San Luis Obispo.  For some reason, whenever we drive past Cal Poly and on toward downtown, it's like our worries fade and we become young again.  It was perfect.

On the drive down Steve and I were able to have some great talk time.  Every single child fell asleep.  This hardly ever happens.  All that could be heard was the steady hum of the engine.  It was the perfect backdrop for both of us to unwind and catch up with one another.  Currently we steal moments here and there.  But this was two and a half hours of straight, uninterrupted talk time.  And it was needed.  That grounding will float us for awhile.  Steve finishes his Masters next semester so there has been so much to be done from paperwork to big exams to tackle.  It's all good work but the fatigue of the last three years is finally starting to settle in (we are also two children heavier than when we started) and so beginning our weekend with good talk time was really crucial and incredibly refreshing.

But not only have Steve and I needed some time to keep our feet on the ground, but so have the kids.  We haven't taken any sort of family vacation in awhile.  Weekend trips have pretty much been forgotten due to Steve studying through every weekend so even the short trips have eluded us.  We also hadn't been to San Luis Obispo as a family for a year.  It was definitely time.  It's our happy place.  To be honest, as we drove up and down the streets, I had a sense of longing for home.  That town will always be home for us, wherever we go.  We began there.  It holds our history.  It will always be home.

We arrived Friday night to the Weeks, who are like family to us.  The kids all went straight into their beds and the adults settled in to talk the night away.  I have no idea how I manage to do it on so little sleep but, I just must stay up and talk to Debbi.  It's just the way it is.  In fact, we all stayed up late but Steve fell asleep in the comfy chair while the rest of us girls chatted away.  Seeing Debbi, Matt and their daughter Rebekah was definitely a major highlight of the whole weekend.  We love them so much.

The next morning we left bright and early and headed out to the beach for AGO's 20th Annual Pismo Football Tournament.  I have been to many Pismo tournaments now and many of them have had nice weather.  In fact most of them have been pretty good since we usually get an Indian Summer all along the California coast.  But this year, it was cold.  Seriously cold.  So by lunchtime, I was ready to head out with the little ones, especially Nathan.  The kids all had to be dragged away from the sand and the fun they were having with other alumni kids, but that's okay.  More fun was to come.

For the past few years we've headed over to a friend's house in the afternoon who lives just a few miles from the beach.  Husband and wife are both AGO alumni as well and are so gracious to open their home up to all of us moms so that the dads can keep playing for the afternoon.  It was a blast.  All of the kids played, ate yummy kid food and us moms got to catch up on each other's lives.  I think the afternoon is my favorite part. I look forward to it so much.  This year one of my best pals and a fellow AGO alumnus came with one of her sons for the afternoon to meet Nathan since they couldn't make it out to the beach.  Seeing her beautiful face just made my day.  I miss my college friends so much.

After the dads beat their arch rivals-UCSB's Alumni team, we extended the fun day even more to include dinner.  My two older boys had gone back to the beach with Steve after lunch to watch him play and dig in the sand some more themselves, so when they got to the Dorns at dinnertime, they had tons of fun playing with the other kids there too.  Once we made it back to SLO for the night, everyone climbed in bed very tired but quite happy.

The next day we took the kids around to hit our favorite places after church...Mondeos for wraps (for us adults), pizza sticks for the kids and dessert from Bali's followed by a quick trip to the Cal Poly store.  All of these things are tradition for us now.  If we go to SLO and don't do these things they kids call us on it.  Pizza sticks and Bali's must happen for them!  And Mondeos and the Cal Poly store must happen for Steve and me!  Ha!  We then headed over to the alumni lunch to say goodbye to everyone and made it back to the Weeks for naps.  We still had an afternoon ahead of us so we needed some rest!  Once everyone was up, we met our dear friend Shelly at Avila Valley Barn for our annual family pictures and pumpkins.  So much fun.

On our way out of town we hit up Splash Cafe for dinner.  It was the perfect ending to a much needed little family vacay.  The kids cooperated again and fell asleep on the way home giving Steve and me more time to talk.

It's been a long haul since January.  We needed this trip.  All of us did.  It was an incredible time of relaxation, just being with our kids with Daddy not needing to study, and seeing amazing friends (though some of our pals were missing), all in our favorite place on earth.

Who knew a weekend trip with five little kids could be so refreshing?!  Well, it was.

Thanking God so much for our time away.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Smack Down

I'm about to start my baking bonanza for tomorrow's cookie stand but before I do, I thought I'd pop on and say, "Hi!"  Yesterday Steve took his first midterm of the semester and afterward, his mom came over so that he and I could steal away for a few hours (with baby Nathan in tow of course).  It was like a little slice of heaven.  He left a wound up ball of frustration over being sure he didn't quite get all the parts in one of the problems done correctly (there were only four so it could end up being more significant, we'll see), to laughing and relaxed by the end, which is much more like the man I sleep next to every night.  Sometimes a few hours away to regroup can make a world of difference.

However, I must admit, he wasn't the only one who was cranky.  I was.  I had been all day.  Whenever he takes exams I feel just about as much weight as he does.  I don't sit there and do the math but, I have to sit at home, keep the kids going and wonder how he is doing, knowing how much is riding on all of it for him.  As his wife, I feel just as much pressure.  So I'm sure being nervous for him didn't help.

But that wasn't all of it.  In fact, I had gotten myself in quite a slump that I began listing out all of the things I was cranky about and I made sure to get them all down and tell God about each one of them.  I huffed around the house saying to Him in my mind, "Oh and THAT!  And THIS!  And THAT!"  Thinking that at least I was being "spiritual" and "praying" about these things rather than just keeping them all in.  Ha!  Sometimes, I even amaze myself with how totally sinful and sneaky I can be with myself when no one else is watching.  It is quite amazing.  It's also amazing how much grace we want to extend ourselves but how little we want to extend to others.  But I'm digressing...

As the day went on, I had racked up quite a list of complaints.  And I felt quite dignified by them.  I was right to be upset about these things (little though they were) and God was going to know all about them because well, I felt better when I was complaining to Him about them all.  Well, good thing I "prayed" about these things because God had prepared quite a smacking for me.

I climbed on the treadmill around 2 pm to get some pound the pavement time.  I needed it.  That helped relieve some of the stress and pressure I was feeling.  And after my shower, I decided to check the Femina blog since I hadn't read it in awhile due to it having some issues with their website.  That's when I got smacked.  Here's a little snippet from the post Harvest Time:

Now that I have hit sixty (and I don’t mean mph), I have lived long enough to see a few harvests. If you are reading this and you are in your teens or twenties or thirties, consider what you are diligently planting, because when you hit your forties and fifties, a harvest starts rolling in.
For example, if you have been sowing a whole lot of low-grade discontent, you’ll be reaping a harvest of misery. If you’ve been picking on your kids for a decade, you will see them disappear over the horizon. If you’ve been complaining to your husband for two decades, you might see him disappear over the horizon as well.
We see a harvest on both the physical level as well as the spiritual. Women who have been trying to look twenty in their thirties and thirty in their forties reap a harvest of looking  like day-old donuts. Stale. (My husband says that the only thing worse than a day-old donut is a day-old donut with a fake tan and hoop earrings.) Women who have been sowing idleness and slovenliness start looking neglected and rejected. None of this happens overnight. It takes years of diligent seed-sowing....

Now don’t quit reading this post because you think I’m being so very pessimistic. I’m just saying that the things we do, the habits we cultivate day-in and day-out are like seeds. They germinate. They grow, and they produce a crop.  So consider what you are planting. What kind of seed have you been sowing in your field?

If we are planting faithfulness and sacrifice, the harvest is peace and joy. If we are cultivating a gentle and quiet and meek spirit, we will have a beautiful crop to put in the barn some day. So what’s sprouting in your field right now? Respectfulness, kindness, gratitude? Envy, bitterness, self-centeredness?

She continues on for a few more paragraphs but this should give you the general drift and it should also explain why I got the smack down.

Ever since Steve started grad school, there has been an attitude in my mind of sprinting.  It goes something like this, "Okay, I can't do this forever, but I can do it now.  So I'll give it everything I've got so that my favorite person in the whole wide world can succeed, and then once I've made it to the finish, we'll have accomplished something."  That's not necessarily bad.

But with sprinting also comes the things you leave by the way side.  When you're sprinting, you don't stop for a drink.  You grab one and throw the cup on the ground for someone else to pick-up.  And then you keep focused on the finish line, while you're panting and straining.  You don't see those alongside of you.  You just keep going.  And although these are survival techniques, they are also a means to leaving important things on the side of the road like a crumpled up piece of trash.

But remember, I'm not going to do this forever, so it'll be okay!  Right?!  A few harsh words to this child here, an unjust punishment here, an absolute inability to listen to that story over there because I'm too exhausted from the long days by myself, add up over time.  And even though it just seems like one cup, if I keep doing that, I'll have built up quite a stash.  And then what am I sowing over the long term?

Not to mention the frustrations that can stack up in my mind?  Discontent with this, upset over that...although it's okay to go to God with frustrations, if I'm building them up and righteously leaving them at His feet in a huff all because I just want to complain because I have a right to, then I'm just sowing self-centeredness.  And I need a major smack in the face.  I need to get back on track.  And I need to remember where I come from and what God has called me to do.

I am a woman.  I am strong.  I am capable.

But NOT because I think I am or because I can sprint for awhile.

But because I have a God who will carry me, one who will fight for me and one who has made me to accomplish my tasks even when I'm weary and frustrated.

He's capable.

I may not have far to go with this Masters.  But after that, it'll be something else.  I can't hide behind it.  The principles are the same.  Sowing cheerfulness, thankfulness and joy will produce a beautiful harvest in my home and more importantly, my own soul.

I just need to choose it.  And I need to keep choosing it.  That's what sowing is-hard work.  But it's work that's totally worth it in the end.

Monday, October 8, 2012

As American As...

With the election coming up and apple season in full swing, I decided to do something downright American with my abundance of local grown apples this last weekend.  After watching the first Presidential Debate, I was just in the mood and feeling all patriotic.

It was also our first Shabbat (Saturday night dinner) in almost two weeks due to some scheduling conflicts.  We were ready to be together again breaking the bread, reciting the liturgy and eating God's goodness to us.  It felt really good to get the Challah going before the morning errand run and it felt even better to set the table beautifully.

I love fall flowers.  They're simply the best.

But even better, is this apple pie.  It's simply the best one I've ever baked and devoured.  And it doesn't have anything to do with my skills.  It's all in the recipe.

Debbi, you know who you are.  Thanks a bunch.  Many mouths thank you.

After dinner our family and neighborhood was full of smiles.

Don't think I'm a super mom for making this pie.  Baking makes me happy.  I definitely dropped the ball in other areas to get this done.  But sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

And Saturday, making this pie just made my heart glad ya know!

As American as apple pie....

God bless America.

Best-Ever Apple Pie

Pastry for a 9 " double pie crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup frozen butter
6 + tbsp ice water

Pulse first four ingredients in a food processor until small chunks of butter remain.  Add ice water one tbsp at a time until crust just comes together.  Dump onto a lightly floured cutting board.  Shape into a large disk, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  This can be made two days ahead.  Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.

Now for the pie:
1/2 cup butter
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8-9 baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (use that food processor again!)

I deviate slightly from the original recipe and I spice the apples.  So mix the apples in a mixing bowl with some cinnamon and nutmeg.  Do it to taste.  Then set them aside to roll out the crust.  Take the dough out of the fridge and cut it in half.  Roll the first half out into a nice large circle made to fit snugly into the pie pan.  I use a deep dish one because it's what I have.  Then dump the spiced apples into the pie pan.  Afterward, do your lattice top with the second round of pie crust dough.  If the dough is getting too flimsy, cut your lattice pieces and then put them in the freezer.  Then you can assemble them much easier.  After the pie is put together, put it in the freezer to firm back up for at least a half an hour or up to two-three hours.

Preheat the oven to 425.  Five minutes before you want to put the pie in the oven make your syrup.  Melt butter in the saucepan.  Stir in the flour to form a bit of a paste.  Add sugars, water and spices.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer for five minutes.  Remove from heat.

Get pie out of the freezer and slowly pour the syrup all over the top of the pie.  Bake (with a pan on the rack beneath to catch spill-over liquid if there is any) at 425 for fifteen minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350 and continue to baking for 35-45 minutes until the apples are tender and the top is golden.


Let cool and then devour.  You won't be able to stop.  Believe me.

It's good to be an American.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

And.....I'm Back!

So, last week was insane.  Just plain insane.  I didn't even open my blog which is VERY unlike me.  It's my sixth child for heaven's sake but last week it simply didn't exist.  Sorry for the delay but, so many crazy fun things were happening that I simply had to live life and not comment on it!
Birthday Buddies-They're born a day apart so we always share their party!  
Also, in case any of you were wondering about my blog being infected with malware, it isn't.  I had a link on my bloglist that evidently is dealing with malware but I deleted it until they get it figured out and my blog was not affected.  I hope that helps and calms any fears you may have had regarding my site.  I'm just a simple little blog here...not a big website.  Hopefully I won't have to deal with problems like that!
Chillin' in Uncle Pete's arms
Okay, so since I've kept you all waiting in suspense as to what's going on in my rather boring life, I thought I'd update you on a few pertinent things and then tell you all a big story that will for sure help you feel much better about yourself and more at ease in your parenting.  You'll be able to snicker and laugh at me thinking to yourself smugly, "Well, at least I haven't ever done THAT!"  You may even question my ability to manage my children well because this is definitely a story that shows I'm not up to snuff all of the time, much less perfect in any way :).
Birthday Breakfast of Cinnamon Rolls
But first things first.  We had a slew of celebrations last week:  Grandma's birthday, Joshua's 4th birthday, parent/teacher conferences, shopping for presents, baking galore for class treats, cakes, birthday breakfast/dinner and the weekly cookie stand, my brother and his girlfriend visiting, and a shower for Nathan and me.  It was glorious.  People were so generous.  Joshua was celebrated and blessed.  But boy am I exhausted.  Everything from shopping for presents to decorating a Thomas cake just about wore me a good way of course.
Bows and Arrows at Grandpa's House
Now I have the pile of laundry to tackle and just the "normal" activities of everyday life.  Bring it.  I'm ready.
The Thomas Cake
I'm also ready to make a confession about a major mommy fail I was a part of a little over a week ago.  In fact, my folly was actually the whole entire situation.  It was a debacle and I was quite the spectacle.  So without further ado, I give you, our innocent trip to Target.
Elle and Uncle Pete at Josh's Party
Recently a new Target opened fairly close by.  When I say fairly close, I mean within 20 miles.  Pretty much everything worthwhile is about that far away.  We have one that is a bit closer but it's not as nice so, I decided we'd try out the new one to see what it was like.  That was my first mistake-heading into seemingly unknown territory on a busy Saturday in Santa Cruz with all five kids and no husband.  I often take the kids with me on errands by myself.  And I don't mind it one bit.  But I don't often do it to places I don't "know" and have a plan for, and the family friendly people are not around nearly as much on a Saturday as during the week.  So the environment was not as conducive to us either.  But I did it anyway.  I had presents to get and things needed for Joshua's upcoming birthday party at the park.  Like I said, these things don't scare me.

We made it through our list fairly well.  Everyone was listening.  Nathan wasn't screaming.  We found all of our items quickly and even scored on a great present for a birthday party taking place at our house that evening (for one of Isaac's classmates).  I was feeling good.  All eyes were on us as we wheeled through Target but the children were doing wonderful and so I had nothing to be ashamed of.  That is, until we began our descent toward the cash register.

Now when I say "descent", I mean it.  We were on the second floor of this particular Target.  And being as though it has two floors, it has a very handy escalator that takes you up to the second story with ease.  Who doesn't like moving stairs huh?  My kids think they're about the coolest thing ever so they happily rode the ride up and were very glad to be doing it again on the way down.  But Target isn't like a department store.  There is this crazy thing called a shopping cart that has to be carted up to the second story somehow.  And so to solve the problem, some fancy engineers created a shopping cart escalator made just for the cart.  All you do is simply push the cart onto the track and it catches it and carries the cart up for you.  Everyone thought it was so clever as they watched our cart ride right alongside us on the way up.  It was brilliance on all accounts and very cheap entertainment.

The only thing about these escalators is that they absolutely forbid children riding on them.  So, there is a big sign that says, "NO CHILDREN ALLOWED".  That means, that every sane, normal and good parent, removes their child from the cart before pushing said cart into the special escalator.  Easy enough.  It makes sense.  And on the way up, I remembered.  The only one who rides in the cart is Elliana so she was the only one I needed to remove.  The boys walk and I have Nathan in the carrier so, when it came time to go up, I took her out and had her ride the escalator with me.  It was great fun.

But on the way down, I somehow lost my mind.  Maybe it was a result of me not getting much sleep these days, or maybe it was the fact that I was walking through Target, on a Saturday, with five kids 7 and under without their Dad, or maybe it was just that I'm an absolute idiot and need to be reminded of this fact at times to keep me humble.  I don't know.  Yet, what I do know is this...I went from Mommy of the Year, with my beautiful children behaving wonderfully and everyone around staring, to Worst Mommy of All Time with everyone still staring in two seconds flat.

As soon as I pushed the cart into its special escalator I knew...I looked up and Elliana was still in the cart.  I panicked and tried to grab her out quickly before she slipped out of sight and down the chute.  But remember, before I was a good mommy.  And good mommies always strap their kids into the cart.  For once, I was wishing I had been a bad mommy previously so that I could be a good mommy then and rescue  my daughter out of the cart before she went down the forbidden escalator all by herself!!!  But alas, I realized quickly that Nathan was strapped to me and that if I kept trying, all three of us were going to get hurt.  So down she went.

By this time, the entire store was watching.  And I mean, everyone.  I tried to remain calm.  I quickly herded the boys down the escalator and practically ran down to the bottom as safely as I could with Nathan strapped to my front.  People's jaws were hitting the floor.  "Look, there she goes trying to save her little girl!  And she has five of them!!  Someone, get her some help!  She must've lost her mind."  In my heart, I knew Elliana would be fine.  It wasn't going to crush her or anything.  The reason kids aren't supposed to ride in them is because they don't want anyone falling out.  They're probably worried about the weight too.  I don't know.  But remember, she's as light as a feather and she was strapped in.  I had made sure of that.  If I had to be a bad mommy now, good thing I'd been a good mommy earlier or the story could've ended differently.

I've never been more embarrassed.  Most people didn't say anything.  They just judged with their eyes and a few said, "I'm glad she's okay."  I took their judgment.  I knew I deserved it.  I had done a stupid thing and I only had myself to blame.  Yet usually, such embarrassment makes for great stories and laughter after the fact.  If I can't laugh at myself during these years, then I must be taking things way too seriously!  However, in these moments, I'm definitely aware of God's utter grace to me.  How easily these follies can turn badly.  I can't remember everything.  God definitely cares for us and extends his grace.  
As we made our walk of shame to the front to pay for our stuff, I plastered a smile on my face and tried to act as normal as possible.  But deep down I was thanking God that all went as smoothly as it did and that Elliana really was fine.  It was simply a little ride for her and nothing more.  I then checked out and bolted for the car as fast as I could with my entourage in tow (which wasn't very fast).   

So there you go.  Feel better about yourself.  At least you've never sent your darling little 2-year old down the forbidden escalator at Target.  

As for me, if I ever muster the courage to go there again, which I probably will considering my determined, feisty nature (I just can't help who I was made to be huh?), I think I'll opt to use the elevator.    


Friday, September 21, 2012

Taking Delight

The Lord your God is with you; the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

We've all met the parents who constantly brag on their kids.  "Oh my son can do calculus and he's only five years old you know!"  These types of people are wearisome and tacky.  And their puffy words only serve to repel those around them.  Partly that's because often their words seem incredulous.  I mean really, unless you've got a Little Gauss on your hands, your five year old is probably not doing hard core calculus.  The other reason these words alienate people is because they draw comparisons and make other parents feel bad.  Our son can't do Calculus at five so he must be dumb.  And so on.  You get the drift.

However, there is a flip side to this as well.  There are parents that constantly berate their kids to other adults, pointing out all of their flaws, riding them for every mistake and communicating to everyone around that they're not proud of their offspring.  These types are probably worse than the former.  For even though kids can get too puffed up from their parents' praise, life generally has a way of sorting these things out through experiences.  But a continuously battered heart can't necessarily be easily repaired.

Either ditch is wrong.  Staying on the road and keeping balanced is obviously the best way.

I've always struggled with this whole aspect of parenting.  Sure I tell the grandparents all of the amazing (to me) things my kids can do.  And Steve and I will stay up late at times talking about our dreams for each kid and how proud they make us.  But I keep those things really close and I don't ever want to come across all showy.  And sometimes I probably try to balance those feelings too much with being overly critical.  But regardless, every parent feels an amazing sort of pride in their kids.  They're our offspring.  God created them but we begot them...they're ours.  And believe it or not, they need us to be proud of the things they do.  They need us to be interested in them and their accomplishments.  Keeping it all balanced is the hard part.

Awhile back I heard Doug Wilson say something in a sermon on parenting that really caught my attention.  I don't remember which sermon it was but it stuck with me.  He was talking about this very thing.  He said (loose paraphrase), "Delight in your kids.  You can't overdo delighting.  Of course they're cuter than everybody else's.  Of course they're the best to you.  God delights in you.  Love like Him and delight in them."  After hearing that, I thought about it for a long time.  God delights in me.  How can I love like Him and delight in my kids without being overly proud?  And how is delight different than arrogance?

The difference between delighting and being too proud may sound like splitting hairs but really it's not.  It's a matter of focus: delighting is about the child and boasting is about the parent.  Delighting in a child gives them a healthy confidence they need to grow.  Boasting is self-serving, draws comparisons and in doing so, only puffs the parent up.  Doug meant that we're to keep an honest perspective but we're not to feel bad when we're proud of them.  In fact, a parent who isn't proud of his child is not loving.  A child who is loved properly won't be afraid to try things and fail because he will know that no matter what, even if no one else is with him, his Mom and Dad will be.  

Parents see everything.  We know our children's weaknesses and we know their strengths and we are to love them despite it all.  Delighting in them ultimately means we believe in them.  From the toddler learning to take his first steps to the thirty year old son pondering career changes, every child needs to know someone believes in them.  Belief and confidence in another human being can go a long way. Simply put, the first ones God has given this role to is parents.    

I have a beautiful friend who reminded me of all of this recently.  Her son just turned one year old and as she and I were talking at church, she was beaming as she described watching all of the fun things he was doing and learning.  I smiled as I listened.  It was obvious that she was totally and completely over the moon for him.  And I understood because I feel the same way about my kids.  But I could tell it wasn't about her.  It was about him.  She wasn't making comparisons.  She was simply delighting in him because he was hers not because he was better than every other baby around.  Her love was apparent and it was refreshing and real.  Talking with her also flooded me with emotion because I remember Isaac at that age and how I felt exactly how she felt-so incredibly proud of the many things he was learning.  And I remember thinking, "That little boy is so lucky to have a mom who takes delight in him simply because he's hers."

All of my friends have amazing kids.  They're so smart, athletic, artistic, imaginative, musical, witty and funny.  I know one boy who goes into the orchard by his house to look for spiders and he writes about them in his very own Field Book.  He's a scientist in the making!  I have another friend whose son is so naturally athletic I can just hear his name being announced over the loud speaker as the starting quarterback of the high school football team someday.  I know another boy who can play many musical instruments and he's not yet a teenager.  I could go on and on.  There's serious talent out there!  All of the kids I'm surrounded with are simply incredible.  Mine included!  God is so creative and good.  He's filled all of these little people up with talent, curiosity and courage.

I just pray that I'll be able to properly take delight in mine.  I want them to know I believe in them.  I want them to know that no matter what they do, I'll be proud.  And that I think they can do anything.

But most of all, I want them to know that I don't delight in them because of their accomplishments and how those accomplishments make me look but simply because God gave them to me.

They're mine.  And that's why I love them so much.  Simply put, I adore them because of their identity, which is just like Christ with us-they belong to me.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pigs, Watermelon Rinds and Joshy

Joshua's fourth birthday is coming up and he wanted to see animals.  At first he asked to go to the zoo.  But then, after us reading about pigs in Farmer Boy, he decided he wanted to go to a farm.  Luckily, we live in prime farm country.  And even more lucky for this mama, the county fair was coming up.

We've never been to the county fair.  Steve's brother's family goes every year and they always have good things to say about it.  But we've never felt the need to attend.  However, Joshua's request being what it was and us needing a "canned" birthday celebration with all that's going on with having little Nathan around, we decided this was our year to try it.

I didn't tell the kids what we were going to do, only that we would see pigs for Joshua's birthday.  So in typical Joshy fashion, he had a plan to make his swine outing even more enjoyable.  He started saving food to feed them-watermelon rinds to be exact.  At first I paid no attention as he asked me to save his rinds for the pigs.  I must admit, I chucked them into the trash when he wasn't looking, thinking he wasn't too attached to the idea.  But I should've known.  As the days wore on, he kept asking me to save the rinds and so, I felt bad and started obliging him.  By the end of the week, he had quite a stash.

On Saturday afternoon neither Steve nor I wanted to go.  I had spent the morning out at Costco and Trader Joe's with the five kids (and was quite a laughing spectacle to all we came in contact with-so funny to me!).  And Steve had spent the morning taking a practice exam.  Needless to say, we were tired.  But we knew it was our one shot to make Joshua's upcoming birthday special and so we rallied our spirits.  We were so glad we did.

When we pulled up to the thoroughfare, the kids were absolutely thrilled.  They had never seen anything like it.  All of the flashing lights and rides of the midway had them sucked in.  But we weren't there for the rides.  We were there for the animals.  So we made our way back to the barns and wove our way through the displays.  They were quite amazing.  There were chickens, turkeys, cows, horses, ponies and of course, what we were ultimately there for-the swine.

I never knew pigs could be so big.  I'm sure I've seen them in real life before.  I know I have.  But seeing my boys stand next to them was crazy.  Those things are HUGE!  And upon seeing the pigs, Joshua was delighted.  When I pulled out his watermelon rinds, he was even more excited.  I'm so glad I went against my own better judgment and saved them.

We found some 4-H students and asked their permission to feed their pigs.  They of course obliged.  What followed was all of the children squealing with delight as they fed the pigs their "treats".  It was so cute and definitely a fun parent moment for Steve and me.  After that, we finished things off with some fair food of corn dogs and fries while I nursed Nathan.  We then caught the beginning of the pig races and then visited the model trains.

By that time, the sun was setting and the fog was rolling in.  It was getting cold fast.  So we packed up and headed home.  It was definitely a simple deal to do for his birthday but we could tell Joshua felt really loved.  As we left, Steve grabbed my hand and said, "Why haven't we done this before?  This was a ton of fun!"  And he was right.  I was thinking the same thing.

Quite simply put, even with four little kids and a brand new baby, the whole experience was quite charming.  Not bad for a trip inspired by a birthday and pigs.  Not too bad at all.