Friday, September 28, 2007

A Full Swingset and a Good Picture of JCT


HE IS SO STINKIN' CUTE THAT I COULD EAT HIM SLAP UP!!




Well, folks, the swinset is officially full!! I have a man at every station, well, almost. . .


As I stood back admiring my sweet boys, all three swinging side by side, the thought occured to me that all three swings were full of little boy goodness! My heart swelled with pride and love. I tilted my head to the side and let out a satisfied sigh. And, then I made this statement to my boys. . .


"Well, boys the swingset is full. All the swings are taken. Isn't that great!"


No one really seemed as overwhelmingly moved by this fact as I did. They all just continued to swing. Then, JCT motioned over to the little red disc thingy that hangs from a long yellow rope on the very end of the swingset and said. . .
"Nope. Not full yet. We gotta wait for MOSES. He can swing on da rope."


"Moses?" I asked. "Who is Moses?"

"He's really little right now, but when he gets bigger he can swing on da rope!"

Just checking, I asked, "So, who is Moses' mama?"

"YOU!" JCT answered.

That is what I was afraid of.

Which made me wonder if it has occured to JCT that he is our only son not named after an Old Testament hero. Whenever it does occur to him, I will remind him that James is his Daddy's favorite book of the Bible. And, hopefully, that, along with the fact that he was named after his grandfathers, will satisfy him.

OH, ME, I LOVE MY BOYS!!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Happy Five Months, Darling!


Wow! You are getting so big sweet man - almost crawling. You are getting up on all fours and rocking, even propelling yourself forward at times. Sometimes you watch your big brothers playing a few feet in front of you, and you try so hard to make your way over to them. You are a hard worker - no doubt. You do not easily give up!!
Your brothers love on you so much that it is almost funny! They want to kiss you and hold you constantly. Sometimes I think the newness of you will never wear off! You are their favorite toy! When I take JCT up for his nap, I leave you on a blanket in the middle of the living room floor with Joshua to watch over you. When I come down the steps after putting JCT to sleep, I hear the sweet sound of your laughter mixed with your big brother's. Once they figure out what silly thing that they can do to make you laugh, they do it over and over and over. We all love to hear your sweet laughter.
Last Friday we took you to the zoo for the very first time. This picture of you was taken while we were there. The sun and all the activity wore you out!! I could have put you in the stroller to let you sleep, but I'll let you in on a little secret - I'd rather hold you!! There is just something so sweet about holding you while you sleep.
I love you, my sweet 'Lijah, I love you.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

When the weak are served. . .

Christ is present
when the Weak
are
loved and served. . .
- Matt Mooney
I came across this quote on the 99 Balloons blog last night. And, I have not been able to get it out of my head. I wrote it on the chalk board in our kitchen.
It is a simple little sentence, but it holds immense amounts of truth. The world says bow to the king. Serve those with authority over you. But, Christ says serve the poor, the needy, the weak. The Mooneys and the Farleys are great examples of this truth lived out in the flesh. But, there are endless examples, endless opportunities for us to be Christ to the world around us. There are endless opportunities for us to serve rather than be served.
Father, give me eyes to see, and strength to reach beyond my comfort zone seizing the opportunity to serve the weak at home and in the world.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sacred.


Joshua has been in desperate need of new Crocs for quite some time now. I am not a big fan of Crocs, so Erik and I bought him a pair of Merrells. But, unfortunately, they weren't to his liking. He still wanted to wear his old Crocs. So, last week I broke down and bought him a new pair of Crocs.

I had trouble finding them. I finally found a pair at a locally owned department store. A nice lady helped us find the Crocs we needed and then proceeded to checked us out. Joshua wanted to wear his new Crocs out, so the nice lady cut the tags off and helped him into his new shoes. She picked up his old Crocs and carelessly said, "Would you like me to throw these away for you?"

Umm. Excuse me. Did I hear her correctly? "Throw these away?"

Umm. No. Or, at least not right here, right now.

I wanted to tell her that these were Joshua's first pair of Crocs. They have traveled many miles on his feet. He has worn the soles slick with play. They are torn and tattered. Memories flood my heart when I look at them. Take for instance, the missing back strap on the left Croc. . . His Aunt's dog ate that strap while Joshua, completely unaware, swam in her pool.
Beloved shoes.
Joshua has worn them nearly every day for the past year and a half. They have been on many adventures, won several front-yard races, and pushed the gas on Joshua's beloved John Deere Gator. They have trod the mountains of Tennessee, too many zoos to count, and Orlando's Magic Kingdom. He met his little brother, Elijah, for the first time in those Crocs.
Joshua loves his old Crocs, and I do to. I will throw them away, but not right away. I'm just not ready to let go, just yet. . . They deserve a special going away party or burial ceremony of sorts. These aren't your ordinary pair of shoes. These are Joshua's Crocs, his favorite shoes.
I wanted to tell her all that, but I held my tongue.
And, I simply said, "No, thank you. They are sacred."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Love Note from the Almighty

Never will I leave you,
Never will I forsake you,
Never.
Be strong and courageous,
Do not be terrified,
or discouraged,
For I am with you
wherever you go.
Nothing, absolutely Nothing
can separate you from My love.
I love you with an everlasting love.
I,
I, who formed you from the dust,
Yes, I love you.
You,
You are My precious lamb,
My lamb that I love to carry close to My heart.
When you are afraid trust in Me,
Lift up your soul to Me,
Hide yourself in the shadow of My wings.
And, I will be the Lifter of your head,
I will make you bold and stouthearted,
I will be your confidence,
Your guide,
Your shelter from the storm,
Your shade from the heat.
You can rest.
You can rest, My child.
For My yoke is easy,
And My burden is light.
You need only be still,
For, I,
The Lord, Your God,
The Almighty,
The King of Kings,
I,
I will fight for you,
Because I love you.
Though a mother may forget the child at her breast,
And, have no compassion on the child she has borne,
I will not forget you.
I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.
You are Mine.
You belong to Me.
And, no one can snatch you from My hand.
So, rest, My child.
I take great delight in you.
I quiet you with My love
And, I rejoice over you with singing.
So, lay down and sleep in peace, My child.
For, I,
I alone make you dwell in safety.
I,
Your Father,
Your God,
Your Maker,
I
Love
you.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Dropped my heart off and drove away. . .

"Being a mother
means that your heart
is no longer yours;
it wanders wherever
your children do. . ."
- Unknown
It all started last Tuesday. I sat in line surrounded by cars and mothers waiting somewhat impatiently for the preschool to open wide her doors and release to us our beloveds. I had a second, so I grabbed my phone and texted a good friend. The text read something like this:
"Hope U R having fun! I am waiting for Joshua. He is really enjoying pre-K."
They were my famous last words.
As Erik would say, I put "the mouth" on him.
He got in the van quiet and introspective. I asked some questions. After a few minutes, he released only this small sentence to me before he retreated and hid behind his backpack for the duration of the car ride home: "I was missing you today."
He said nothing else all day. And, I didn't ask. You see, Joshua does something that I cherish. He stores his hurts in his sweet heart all day, and then as I tuck him in at night, he ever so gently opens his heart to me. As I tucked him in that night, he began talking. He opened his heart and layed it on the covers for us to examine together. I won't share all the details, but one sentence sums up the entire conversation. . .
He looked at me with gentle, questioning eyes, and in his sweetest voice, he asked me. . .
"Mommy, when you were in preschool, did sometimes nobody want to play with you, too?"
To say my heart broke, would be an understatement. I love this little one. My heart hurt.
I wrestled with this all night. Joshua knows no one in his class, and he is quiet until you get to know him. I know that once he feels comfortable he will blossom, but until then. . .
Until then, I will pray. I will pray for a buddy. I will pray for him to be strong and courageous. As I dressed him this morning, we said Joshua's favorite verse - Joshua 1:9. I asked him why he thought that God said these words to Joshua in the Bible. I told him that it sounded to me like Joshua may have been a bit afraid, and God spoke to him words of encouragement. Encouraging him to be strong and courageous, not terrified or discouraged, because God would be with him wherever he goes. A wonderful verse for a little boy.
Joshua only goes to preschool on Mondays and Tuesdays, so today was his first day back since his "sad" day. JCT, Elijah, and I walked him to class, helped him put his backpack in his little locker, and then said goodbye and walked away. We got in the car. And, as I drove away, I looked at that little church preschool building and thought about how it now housed my heart for a few hours. And, one day I will have 3 of my hearts walking around. I am learning, slowly but still learning, how to let go even when it hurts. How to allow them the opportunity to fight their own battles instead of sheltering them. These are the things that will make him stronger. God uses every minute detail. I trust that. And, my strength imparted to Joshua now mostly is in the form of prayer.
It is a process, this mommy deal, and I think it gets more and more challenging as it goes along. But, it is a good deal.
And, speaking of good deals, I got this email from my Daddy after my mom informed him of Joshua's hard day. The last line of his email brought a tear or two to my eyes. You see, my Daddy used to trade futures on the Commodity Market. And, he was good at what he did, very good. He was highly respected for his keen sense of the market - the ups and downs. He knew when and what to buy and sell. My Daddy is wise, but he doesn't vomit his wisdom on you. He holds tightly to his words. They are few and precious. Wisdom. I am thankful to have a Godly father. And, now his sweet words. . .
Erin,

I can empathize with Joshua in his experience at preschool. It's a little disconcerting at first how to relate to new kids, school, teachers, new surroundings, etc. It's a lot for a little guy to adjust to at first. But he's a very smart little boy, and he will quickly figure out how to get in the group, make friends, and just plain adjust.
I'm 66 now, but if my memory is correct, those early years, when you are learning your social skills, were more difficult than when you get to high school and college. Pray, but don't worry. I know how to read a good deal, and I would buy stock in Joshua because he will do just fine.

Love you guys,
Dad
Pray, but don't worry. Now that is good advice for a mother. Because I am learning that prayer is the key to parenting. Just as I used to sit at the bottom of the steps listening to my Joshua cry himself to sleep, praying constantly, asking God how long is too long, I must still rely on God to guide me today. And, God has always been faithful to lead me. Parenting books are great, but there is no substitute for listening to the Spirit, letting His sweet Spirit guide me.
I love that being a mother is above and beyond my comfort zone. It is more than my soft heart can bear. So, it keeps me ever at His feet. And, there is no place that I would rather be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Autumn

I walked outside a few minutes ago to throw something in the trash. I opened the door and a soft cool breeze hit me in the face. And, the fragrance of fresh cut grass overwhelmed me. A beautiful green yard, freshly mown and a cool breeze. . .

It is the beginning of autumn and that does something to me deep in my soul.

Seriously.

There is something miraculous to me about the change of seasons. God does it every year - 4 times a year, but it never loses its magic for me. And, I love that.

A few weeks ago the temperature was over 100 degrees, and now it must be in the low eighties or high seventies. This morning was cool and crisp with dew covering every blade of grass. As I kissed my husband goodbye, I marveled at the miracle of God's seasons.

In a few weeks the leaves will turn beautiful colors, and the grass will begin to yellow. And, I will light my Yankee Harvest candle and make a big pot of White Bean Chicken Chili. And, Erik will come home from the high school football games with frozen feet, and he will put his cold hands on the back of my warm neck. And, I will watch as little red-headed boys cover eachother in leaves, tossing them up in the air with great joy. And, I will move the boy's carseat straps to fit them with their jackets on, and I will begin faithfully feeding the birds, deer, and turkey that enjoy passing through our backyard for a mid-morning snack. I will bundle the boys up to play in the morning, and they will step out into a yard of frozen grass. Coats, hats, scarves, and mittens will litter my mudroom, kitchen, and den. Little rain boots will sit beside the door.

And, though it may be chilly outside, my soul will be full of warmth. And, I will sit and sip coffee and thank my sweet Jesus for autumn and all of the blessings that come along with it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Too Much

How much is "too much"? What exactly does it mean?

It isn't a precise measure.

It is just a phrase we throw around.

But, yesterday "too much" was thrown at me when I least expected it.

Being in the stage of life that I am in and being the weak vessel that I am, there is a lot that seems to be "too much" these days.

Like taking 3 children (4 and under) to the mall or to Wal-Mart. . .

Last night at dinner, too much was holding a fussy baby, rocking him, standing beside the dinner table while my family ate, all the while listening to my two year old complain about his dinner and my four year old ask the same question over and over and over and over again.

But, after dinner something magical happened. I was putting my sons to sleep, tickling their backs and loving on them. I picked JCT up to put him in his crib across the room, and I asked him:

"How much does Mommy love you? How much, baby, do you know?"

And, his response came in his usual way, very matter of fact but with a smile:

"Too Much."

And, I suppose he may be correct.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sesame Street meets the Tarheels


The boys had so much fun at Afton's second birthday party!! Here are some pics from the special occasion. Sean and Deana had 3 pools set up in their backyard and 1 slip and slide. The dinosaur pool looked so fun that I almost got in!! The kids had a blast!




I was so honored when Sean asked me to make the cake and cupcakes for Afton's party. But, I must admit, I was very nervous about it. I have only made cakes for my own children's parties. I wanted them to be perfect for sweet Afton. She loves Elmo, so I prayed and prayed that no matter what, she would be able to tell that her cake was, in fact, an Elmo cake. If she said "Melmo" when she saw the cake, then I would consider my cake a success. If not, I would be sorely disappointed!! Thankfully, she recognized him!!




I panicked at about 10:30 the night before the party! All the sudden it hit me that all the cupcakes and cakes were full of food-coloring! I'm a little slow, I guess. Anyway, I envisioned one of Afton's beautiful outfits being ruined by heavily dyed icing. Not to mention the fact that we all know what red food coloring is supposed to do to children, and Elmo had to be red or Afton surely wouldn't recognize him. So, I made what I called "child friendly cupcakes." I used just a tad of blue food coloring and made a few more cookie monster cupcakes.

So, what do you think Sean said when he saw the cupcakes?

Duke cookie monsters and North Carolina cookie monsters. Needless to say, he stayed far away from the Tarheel cupcakes while my husband gobbled them up whole - well, sort of. . .


And, guess who stole the show! You guessed it! Somehow they always end up the center of attention!


Deana's sweet Mama made both of them aprons!! She wrapped up the Carolina apron and gave it to Sean as a joke. Sean opened the apron and immediately, with great disgust, threw it at Erik. Then, Mrs. Diane pulled out another bag with a Duke apron made especially for Sean.
A Fun Party
brought to you by the letter A (for Afton)
and by the number 2.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Home Renovation Pics - Part 1 Mudroom and Laundry room


Welcome! I will be completely honest. I have been dreading this, but I want to get it done, so here I go!!! I am going to do this in parts to keep me from going insane, completely.


The before pics are on the left, and the after pics are on the right.


This is the backdoor. The powder bath is to the left and the laundry room is to the right. We had already begun tearing up the floor when I took the before pics, but you get the idea.




This is the powder bath. We basically just took out the cabinets and added a pedestal sink in their place. Oh, and we changed the wall color, but that will be true of every room in our home!!



Okay, the next room is quite possibly one of the most important rooms in our home. I adore laundry. Does that sound crazy? I love it! It is my favorite chore - hands down! So, loving my new laundry room was very important to me.




We got new cabinets, and we enclosed the air conditioning unit thingy.

I love my new long counter top! I sort my clothes as I take them out of the dryer and fold them. I sort them according to family member and then dresser drawer. Then, I pile the laundry in baskets in descending order of the dresser drawers. Does that make sense? Putting laundry away is a breeze now!!





Oh, and the floors are now our concrete slab stained and scored. And, we changed all the hardware, doors, and molding to give the house a little character and to suit our tastes.

I hope to conquer the kitchen, den, and sun room next. We'll see. . .

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Preschool Jitters



And, I am not just talking about Joshua. Mommy has been a bit jittery herself.

Whew! We made it through the first day! My stomach has been in knots all weekend. But, we did it. . . I mean he did it!!

And, he didn't shed one single tear!

And, I think he may have actually enjoyed himself!!

Last night, as I was tucking my little man in, we had an interesting little conversation. . .

J: Mommy, I don't want to go to school tomorrow.
Me: Baby, it will be fun! This is something to look forward to, something to be excited about!
J: One day I will go away to school. One day I will leave Frankie (Joshua's name for our home.)
Me: Yes, baby, but that will not be for a long time. We don't need to worry about that yet.
J: But, I don't want to leave Frankie.
Me: It isn't time for you to leave Frankie. When it is time, you will be ready. Don't worry about that now. It will be a long time from now.
J: Mommy, you had another house, and you left that house to live here. And, I will leave this house for my own house one day when I have a wife.
Me: Yes, but that will not be for a long time.
J: And, I will come and visit you like Grandma and Pop come and visit and then they leave and say goodbye. I will visit Frankie like that and then leave and say goodbye. Then, I will go to my house.
Me, not liking this conversation: Yes, but not for a long time.
J - panic setting in: But, mommy, what if I can't find your house? What if I want to come and visit, but I can't find where you live?
Me: You will always know how to get to our house. You will always know how to come home.
J- more panic setting in: But, but how do I get there? Do. . . do I just go straight and then turn. . . or how do I get there?
Me not believing that I am having this conversation: I don't know yet. But, when it is time you will know how to get home. You will always know how to get home, and you can come home whenever you want. Okay?
J: But, I will not drive Vannie (Joshua's name for my car) or Vackie (Joshua's name for Erik's car). I will have my own car.
Me: Yes.
J more panic setting in: But, what will I name my car? I don't know what to name my car.
Me attempting to calm him down: It is okay. You don't have to know what to name your car today. You don't have a car. Don't worry. By the time you are old enough to have a car, you will know exactly what to name your car. Let's just focus on your first day of Preschool tomorrow. I am going to make you blueberry muffins and after school we will go out for Pizza to talk about all the fun things you did. Okay?
J: Okay. But, I need to give you a hug.
Me: Oh, yes, please do give me a hug. (Lord knows I needed a hug after that conversation!)
The whole conversation gave me a little insight into 2 things. #1 Joshua is even more like his mother than we thought. And, #2, this must be how God, Erik, and my mom feel when I come to them in panic mode about things that may or may not take place 20 years from now. It made me realize how silly so many of my fears are. I need only worry about today. After all, today has enough trouble of its own. Now back to the real story. . .
He woke up reluctant to go. But, then an interesting thing happened. JCT figured out what was going on, and he wasn't so sure about it. "I wanna go school, too. Can I go, too, Mommy."
"No, Baby, you aren't quite old enough yet."
"I wanna go school, too."
And with that, something shifted in Joshua's brain. He got to do something JCT wanted to do but could not do, and he liked that. So, without further resistance, Joshua headed out of Vannie's door, kissed his Mommy's lips, grabbed his Daddy's hand, walked into school, and didn't look back.
There was an eerie silence for a few moments when we returned home. But, it didn't take long for JCT's chatter to fill the house. And, do you think he missed his brother?
I'm not so sure.
I think he rather enjoyed having free reign of the toys and Mommy at his beck and call.
My photo
Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.

 

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