Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mugs, Muffins, and One Beautiful Fence!


I am missing you today my sweet, sweet husband. I didn't even make coffee this morning because I knew that I wouldn't have you home with me to share a cup. Remember the days when we sat on the back porch of our Georgia home sipping orange juice and eating french toast at 10 in the morning? Those days are long gone. . . Now we are sipping coffee and munching on muffins at 7 a.m. while we stand across the kitchen from each other discussing our plans for the day. "I'll watch the boys in the morning and let you work if you'll watch them this afternoon and let me run errands. . ." We are in a different stage of life now, Baby! And, although it may be increasingly busyer and certainly more complicated, it is wonderful and exciting and full to overflowing. We have truly been blessed. What a life!


And, here is a picture of what you looked like most mornings of your vacation ~ thanks to our darling little early risers!



I know that your "vacation" was short and full of work, but I want you to know that I enjoyed the extra time with you ~ even if I spent most of it watching you from the window. I love you so much. And, one of my favorite of your many attributes is that you are a hard, hard, hard worker. You give 100% to everything you do. I love that even though you may have had to give in and hire someone to move those huge piles of dirt for you, you were out there sweating and working alongside them. They drove the excavator and you spread the dirt with a rake. You never sit inside and watch others work. No, you get out there and get dirty and sweaty right along with them. I love that about you!


And, the fence you built around our AC unit is beautiful! I love it!






So, until the weekend, sweet love, give your muscles a break and let your brain do its share of the work! I love you, and I am ready for Friday afternoon when I can have you home with me again!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Flying High


That is my boy, my little boy, my little big boy! The same boy that I used to describe as timid and a bit bashful. But, oh me, is he changing!! He is growing and trying new and exciting things ~ things I never thought I'd see my Joshua do. And, I am just sitting back, watching him with a heart bursting at the seams with pride!

Yesterday, we went to orientation at his elementary school. He was excited. I was nervous. And, Erik was his normal steady Eddie self. When we walked through the front doors of the school, we saw the library immediately to our left. Erik, out of curiosity, decided to venture over and show Joshua all the books and fun things that this sweet little library housed. And, as soon as we entered the room, our pastor's wife (the school librarian) came running over to Joshua. And, in the way of any true, good southern woman, she gushed sugary sweet gush all over my son. "Joshua, if you need anything, a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, you come in here and let me know. I'll take care of you. You are going to love it here. And, this is where you will sit for story time! And, I am going to be right here all the time. So, come and see me, okay? Aren't you just precious! Oh, I love that red hair! You come see me, now!" All the while, she never took her hands off of him. And, as we were leaving the library, we ran into the school coach, a friend of Erik's. We discussed the new rock climbing wall in the gym and all the fun things Joshua would do with Coach F. during his P.E. class.

And, I felt myself relax just a bit.

Then, we entered the school office and met the principal, who we already know (living in a small town has its perks!). After filling out a bit of paperwork, we were ushered into the hall where our fate would be sealed. There were two ladies sitting in the hall with notebooks. And, in their notebooks were the official 2008-2009 class lists. We were about to find out who Joshua's kindergarten teacher would be. Now, there are six classes with 15 kids - one teacher and one assistant per class. I only know two of the six teachers personally. And, I had completely written off the thought that Joshua might get one of the two that I know. So, as they looked up his name, I braced myself. And, you know what?

He got one of the two teachers that I know! She is a sweet girl, and I know she will take care of my sweet boy. I could hardly believe it! We walked to her classroom where Joshua was given a gift (what is up with that - my teachers never gave me gifts at orientation!), and I was given a hand full of information to read! Joshua new several of the kids from his preschool, and Erik and I met a couple that we have heard a lot about and have wanted to meet for some time now.

After we left the school, we let Joshua choose wherever he wanted to eat. He had Daddy and Mommy all to himself, and this was his special day. So, what do you think he said?

McDonald's.

I pretended not to hear him. I threw out some suggestions the local family restaurant, the local Mexican restaurant, etc. But, he stood his ground.

McDonald's.

Erik and I just looked at each other. We don't eat at McDonald's. EVER. I guess you could call us fast food snobs. We just don't go there.

But, we did yesterday.

Because it was his special day and that was what he wanted.

Then, we came home, and I looked at this picture of Joshua flying through the air above our pool that I had taken a few days ago. And, as I looked at the picture, I thought about how carefully Erik throws him. He throws him far and high, but with the care of a father who would never throw him too far or too high. And, so here we are, in the same way, letting him go just a little bit, testing the waters. We will see what this year brings.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Our Nutrition Chart


I was so excited about my newest idea to keep track of the nutritional value of the foods my boys are eating!! I made our little chart, and then, I sat down and gave the boys a little lesson in nutrition ~ what is considered "grain," "dairy," and how much of each of the food groups they needed to eat each day. I explained that we would mark down on my lovely little chart each food that they put into their cute little mouths. We would also keep track of how much water they drank and how much time they spent running and playing outside (exercise). I know that I am a bit of an obsessive compulsive chart loving girl, but, hey, that is who I am and so that is that!
I thought the little lesson went well, and as the day progressed, Joshua would proudly say as he nibbled on goldfish or triscuits, "This is a grain, isn't it, Mommy?" I assumed they were enjoying our new little chart and their new awarness of nutrition. But, several hours later I was in my bedroom folding laundry when I overheard my Joshua talking to his little brother completely unaware that I was within earshot. In a very teenagery voice, I heard him say. . .
"Where does Mommy come up with this stuff? Keeping up with what we eat! Where does she get all this from?"
And, to answer his question, it is from all of you wonderfully creative bloggers out there! I get most of my favorite ideas off of blogs! So, to all of you, my Joshua says, "Thanks, for inspiring my mom!"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Let Go and Trust. . .

A few mornings ago I did something that I do every morning. I checked our hour by hour forecast on weather.com. It informed me that there was a high percentage of a chance that thunderstorms were on their way to our home. It predicted them to be here in the eleven o' clock hour. I tucked that piece of information into the back of my brain and went on with the morning. I did laundry, swept the floor, read a few books to a few little boys, etc.

Then, at 10:30 the boys and I took Rain out to do "his job." When I saw the sky, I couldn't help but remember the forecast. The sky was clear and blue ~ not a cloud in sight. It looked the way it has much of the past month ~ beautiful. I chuckled to myself, "No way, we are getting any rain today!"

By 11:30 there was thunder, lightning, and hard rain pouring down on our little country home. And, I stood at the window watching the raindrops hit the pond and cause great ripples. As I watched, I pondered it all, took it all in. And, I couldn't help choking back a tear or two as I considered the irony of the situation ~ so much like my life right now.

You see, my life is calm, clear, and cloudless at present. It is as it has been for quite some time. Three little boys all under my care all day every day. We are accustomed to each other. We know each other's likes and dislikes. We know how to take cues from one another ~ when JCT is getting tired, when Elijah is getting hungry, or when someone needs a little extra one on one attention. We know how to go and do. We have our very own organized little way of getting everyone inside the van and into their car seats, getting across the parking lot ~ who holds who's hands, how to get through an hour long trip to Wal-Mart, and how to get everyone neatly filed back into their car seats, groceries loaded and unloaded. We have it all down pat. We know what we are doing. It is comfortable, somewhat organized, and has become to some degree easy.

But, the forecast is calling for change.

And, though it seems that there is not a cloud in the sky. There are hints of change to come ~ contractions here and there, letters from Joshua's school announcing orientation day, and a long detailed school supply list. There is paperwork to fill out for JCT's preschool and pre-admission paperwork to fill out for the Women's Hospital. And, though I cannot yet see the clouds, I know that they are coming. . .

Now, I am not saying that change is bad. And, I am certainly not saying that having a new baby is a bad thing. Or, that Joshua starting kindergarten is a bad thing, or JCT starting preschool, for that matter. But, they all mean change from what is comfortable and familiar to what is new and unknown. They mean tears. Because I will cry, yes, I will cry. I will cry when I sit alone and hold my new little gift from God, and I will cry when I watch my firstborn walk away from the protection of my arms and into that big school building, backpack on his back and lunchbox in his hand.

Yes, I will cry.

You know how I know that I will cry? Because I am already breaking down from time to time, that is how I know. A couple of nights ago I let the dam break. Erik and I were sitting side by side on the couch talking. Well, to be honest, I was talking and he was listening as per our usual nightly routine. And, I let it go, completely. I held nothing back. I cried ~ mostly about Joshua starting kindergarten. Now I know that I am 35 weeks pregnant and highly emotional right now, but still it will be a huge adjustment. For the last 5 years, I have spent every single day with this darling little person. We eat our pb&j's together everyday at lunch. In a few weeks when JCT and I sit down to eat lunch, Joshua's place on the bench will be empty, vacant. He, who taught me this whole mothering business, he will not be present at our table. No, he will be sitting at another table in a busy cafeteria surrounded by little people and teachers.

My Joshua, he is my buddy, my friend, my helper, my cute little man who makes my heart melt, who makes me smile and laugh and do things I never thought I would do ~ like catching caterpillars and jumping in rain puddles. I can't imagine going without him from 8 to 3, 5 days a week. I will miss my little man.

But, it isn't just the missing him. That isn't the only reason that I am struggling with this. It is the letting go that is killing me. Parenting, I am learning, is a process of letting go. They are given to us on loan, and we are to help mold and shape them, but in the end we are to let them go. They are not ours. They are His, and we have to let go. And, being the control-freak that I am this letting go part is the most difficult for me. Because Mama Bear wants to protect her cubs, you know? And, I can protect him at home. I can keep him to a certain degree safe. I can keep certain influences out of our little world. I can make his brothers treat him nice and vise-versa. I can keep them from fighting, mostly. But, when I send him to school, I will not be there to control things. And, I know little boys can be mean. And, I know my Joshua's tender heart. I know his feelings will be hurt. I know that one day he may get in a playground scuffle and come home to me with a black eye or worse. And, so I worry, and I fight this whole letting go process.

I see this as the first step in letting go. Later, we will give him the keys to a car, and he will drive away without Erik or I in the car with him. And, again we will have to let go and trust, let go and trust, let go and trust. . . It must a sort of theme in this whole parenting thing. . . let go a little bit and trust a little bit more. Trusting not in them or in our great giftedness as parents, but rather trusting in Him. Trusting Him that created our little ones. Trusting that He will protect and take care of them. And, trusting that when something does happen that isn't in our plan for our little one, that He will be there to hold us, to hold him, and to help us all through it, whatever it might be. Because everyone knows that life is neither is easy nor is it fair. But, somehow, so far for Joshua it has been just that ~ easy and fair. He knows not of the evils of this world. He knows not of true hatred or impurity. But, it is inevitable that if he lives very long, he will be introduced to them. I'd have to lock him in his room or keep him in a spiritual bubble to keep him away from such things. But, I know that that is not God's will, and so I will let him go a little bit at a time, and I will trust Him a little bit more. . .

I laughed to myself last night as I read the story of David and Goliath from the Children's Message Bible to my little boys. Something I read immediately reminded me of this whole letting go thing. It is in a conversation between David and Goliath that God reminded me that all of this really has very little to do with me or my control. Because really I have no control, only He does. I just think I do. David stands before the giant, a mere boy without armor or strong weaponry, but with a face set like flint before him and a faith in His God that is unshakable, and he says. . .

"You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel's troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. The whole earth will know that there's an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn't save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God - He's handing you to us on a platter!"

Now you may think that this has nothing to do with letting my Joshua go to school, but to me it has everything to do with it. Because through this little Children's Bible, He reminded me that He is bigger. He is bigger than the giant before me. He is bigger than anyone or anything that Joshua will encounter at school. The battle is His, not mine, not Joshua's. I am not in control, He is. And, Joshua is safely tucked in the palm of His hand. I am resting, or at least attempting, to rest in this. I am choosing to trust in the strong hand of the Lord, the strong hand Who holds my little boy when I cannot.

And, so, in order to come full circle. . . I know the forecast. I know what is to come. Change, and lots of it. And, though my sky appears cloudless at present, I know what looms ahead. But, each day, I am feeling a little more prepared, a little more ready. Ready to let go and trust my God with my Joshua. And, ready to embrace new life and begin the whole process again. . .

Let go and trust. . . Let go and trust. . .

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sam & Julie

Meet Sam & Julie. . .



One of Joshua's daily responsibilities is to water the tomato plants. This year, for some reason, we are having a terrible problem with caterpillars eating all the leaves off of our tomato plants. Erik instructed Joshua and I to get rid of any caterpillars that we found on the plants. And, by getting rid of them I feel certain he meant for us to kill them.



Well, today when Joshua went outside to water the tomato plants I decided to go with him. And, while we were watering, I noticed that a great number of leaves were missing. I assumed this was the work of a caterpillar. So, I gave the tomato plants a thorough look over, and I didn't see any caterpillars. Then, I noticed that a couple of the branches were thicker than normal. I observed them more closely, and, by golly, the extra thickness had legs and a face, an unattractive face. I had no idea how big, fat, and ugly caterpillars could be! When Erik said "caterpillar," I innocently assumed he meant the cute little fuzzy variety. But, um, no, there is nothing cute or little about these caterpillars, or fuzzy for that matter. I used two sticks to pry each of the two overweight culprits off of the plants, and then I put them in a glass. I was going to dump them in the woods somewhere far from our beloved tomato plants. But. . .



Joshua not would have it!



"They are my pets!" he protested.



And, being the sucker that I am, I went inside, found his bug catcher, and carefully placed the caterpillars inside with leaves to eat. He has named them Sam and Julie. I am not sure whether or not to take offense at this, but he named the biggest, fattest caterpillar Julie (feminine) and the smaller, thinner caterpillar Sam (masculine). Anyway, he wanted to bring them inside, but I put my foot down on that one! I refuse to imagine one of them crawling freely in my home!



Here he is with his new pets!





Little boys! Gotta love 'em!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Welcome to Your New Home, Little Man!

We finally decided that it was time to move Elijah from the pack and play in our closet to his very own room upstairs! The transition that I so dreaded was a piece of cake!! The very first night that I lay him down in his crib upstairs he drifted quickly off to sleep. It was as if this little room felt like home to him already. I think he likes his little room. And, I do. I never posted post-renovation pictures of the new nursery, so I am going to use this as an excuse to do just that!

Here is the happy little man post nap in his crib. . .



This room is tiny, so the walls are covered in pictures and almost every inch of the floor space is taken up with furniture! But, it is a sweet and cozy room full of sweet meaningful baby things!



The pictures above the crib are favorites of mine. They were taken when JCT was a newborn.



A few more special things that I hold close to my heart. . .



I don't get to do any feminine decorating in this home full of boys, so when we renovated I decided the nursery needed some soft & gentle touches like a crystal doorknob and this chandelier. . .


I had this blanket embroidered just for my sweet little man!

Because there is not enough room for a changing table in his room, I opted to use a portion of his closet for it! Thankfully, he has a nice little walk-in closet!


These pictures are hanging in the closet, so I get to look at them while I change my little man's diapers. They are of Joshua and I while I was pregnant with JCT.



JCT's old crib is still in the dormer of the big boy's room, and they begged me to let Elijah sleep in there with them. But, my goal is to one day have Elijah and the new little one share a room. I assume that we will keep our new baby downstairs with us until he is about a year old, too. Then, we will move him upstairs and let him share a room with sweet Lijah! Besides, the big boys talk too much at night! I fear Elijah would not get enough sleep! And, I love that my little man has his own sweet, peaceful little home to sleep, play, and grow in!


I think he likes it!

New Curtains

For my mom. . .


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Bounty!

It is harvest time in our backyard!!







I tried to take a picture of our lingering blackberry crop, but Joshua picked the remaining blackberries before I got a picture of them. So, instead of waiting for a new crop, I just took a picture of them they the way they are today!


My personal favorite. . .





And, Joshua agrees. . .



Yummy summer treats!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Godspeed. . .

Little one, as I write this I am feeling you move inside me. I am feeling your little hands and feet wiggle and kick and stretch. How precious is that! How precious is your little life!



I must admit, sweet one, my hands are full right now, full from taking care of your big brothers. And, as I sit on the floor and play with them, or as I make their lunches, or push them on the swings, sometimes you will shift your position and remind me of your sweet presence. Your little movements serve to remind me that you are alive and well and growing. And, as the movements get stronger, you remind me that one day, one day soon, you will be with us. You will no longer be a mystery, you will be here, right here, with me. And, I will hold you, treasure you, cherish you, and embrace you with the love only a mother can give.



I will sleep with your sweet infant body on my chest, and I will listen to your little baby breaths. I will hold your tiny body against mine and stare at the two of us in the mirror. I will marvel at the fact that God would choose to bless me with you. And, I will do my best to keep those moments locked in my memory forever.



But, it isn't just about you and me, baby, you have brothers!! You have big brothers who cannot wait to meet you!! One in particular, JCT, thinks that you belong to him! He tells me all the time that you are his baby, not my baby, his baby! And, Joshua, a seasoned older brother, cannot wait to meet you, as well! They kiss and zurburt you through my belly all the time. They even attempt to tickle you through my skin! You are so loved, baby boy.



Can I tell you one more thing? Just in case you ever wonder. . .



It doesn't get old. It never gets old. I think God could bless me with 20 children, and I would still feel the same way. I would still feel the wonder, the magic, the awesomeness, of being given the gift of a child by my loving God. Unique, precious, priceless, little one, I love you, and I cannot wait to meet you. In His perfect timing, when you are fully formed and ready, we will be waiting to meet you, waiting to lavish lots of love on your sweet little wrinkly newborn body!



Godspeed, little one, Godspeed. . .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You Will Still be My Baby



I think it is such a silly thing the way people call their youngest child "the baby." All of you are my babies, no matter how big you grow, you will all still be my "babies."

Sometimes I just stare at you, little man. You were not given the opportunity to be the youngest child for very long. You are just a week shy of fifteen months, and we are beginning the final countdown to your baby brother's birth. The thought of you in a "I'm a big brother" t-shirt makes my heart a little sad. I'm not even sure they make a t-shirt like that small enough to fit you! But, I know that I know that I know that the Giver of all good gifts has chosen to give you the gift of a baby brother, and that means that all is well and good and will be wonderful and blessed. And, what good friends you will be - so close in age! Just a few months more than a year apart! Just give him a year or two to catch up to you, and then your friendship will be so much fun!

I just want you to know how much I love you. I love you so much, little man. I tell you all the time. I tell you that I love you, and you just smile and laugh and continue playing, or you take it as a cue to go get another book for me to read to you. I tell you that my tummy is so big because your little brother, your new life-friend, is living inside me. And, I explain to you that one day he will come out and be with us, and you just smile at me and say, "Juss! Juss!"( translation - "Juice! Juice!"). You are clueless, sweet baby, absolutely, wholeheartedly without a clue. And, there is nothing that I can say or do to prepare you for the change that is coming.

But, if there is one thing that I know about you, it is that you are resilient. You are amazing, simply, totally, amazing. Nothing gets in your way, nothing stops you. You don't see yourself as the baby brother right now. You believe yourself to be as big as your big brothers. If they can do it, you want to try to do it. You are a tough cookie, little man. And, God gave you a power-packed personality. You are not to be looked over, no, not you. You make your presence known. It is just as your Daddy said to me this morning. He said, "If his little brother has half the joy Elijah has, then we will be doing okay!" You are a happy child, a joy to your Daddy and to me.

And, you are still my baby. And, when I give birth, you will still be my baby. And, when you are taller than me, you will still be my baby. And, I will always love you. You have my heart, little man. I love you so very much.

A Word from God. . .

The back door swung open wide, and a dirty, sweaty, red faced little boy bounded inside and onto my freshly swept and mopped floors.


"Boy, I was really hearing from God out there!!!" he exclaimed.


I choked back a giggle. He had been outside playing in the mud for over an hour. The thought of him talking to God as he played in the mud made my heart smile.

"Really? Wow!" I said.


"Yes!!" He shouted excitedly.

"And, what exactly did He tell you?" I asked unable to wait another second to hear the details of this sweet interaction between my God and my son.

"He told me to be a man!" he said happily.

"Wow! Really! That is great! Did He say anything else?"

"I asked Him if I could see Grandma B. again one day because I really want to see her bad! And, He said, yes, I would see her again in heaven one day!!!"

Now, I love this. . . Grandma B. is my maternal grandmother. Joshua was about 18 months old when she passed away. She absolutely adored Joshua, and although he doesn't remember her he talks about her all the time.


How cool is it that I am beginning to see my sweet God draw my son to Himself. I love that I can see evidence of a relationship forming!


And, it is just like Him, just like our sweet God, to stoop down to speak to a child, to stoop down to the great depths of an earthly mud puddle, no less, to speak to a little boy. What a good God He is!


Father, I pray that Your hand will always be upon my sons. Lead them, guide them, and draw them ever closer to Your heart. May Your unique relationship with each one of them grow more intimate with each passing year. May they walk closely with You all the days of their lives. And, may they always be fertile soil, ever listening to Your still small voice speaking wisdom and truth into their hearts.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Utter Distress. . .

What, I ask you, could cause a happy baby boy to become so overwhelmingly unhappy. . .




so distressed. . . so angry. . .




so downright volatile. . .




And, yet all the while he is screaming, his mother is giggling and taking pictures?

Well, I'll tell you. . .

I took the hot, freshly baked cookies out of the oven. And, silly mama, I thought we should let them cool before we eat them. He obviously did not agree. . .

He screamed, cried, yelled, hollared, tears everywhere from the time he saw me take them out of the oven until the time I handed him a cookie. The boy loves chocolate chip cookies!

But, who can blame him?

As Deana B. said when I told her the story later that afternoon, "He is a man after my own heart."




I think I'm going to start calling him "Cookie Monster."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Summer Through Your Eyes, Sweet Boys. . .

Summer.
I have never been a big fan of summer. I have always preferred fall, spring, and even winter to the hot days of summer.
I have always seen summer as somewhat oppressive.
The heat.
The humidity.
The mosquitoes.
But, two little boys have changed my opinion of this sweet season. . .
And, here they are! Rosy cheeked and sweaty headed!




I have never loved summer so much as I have this year! Seeing summer through my boys' eyes has been such a treat! They love it! The heat doesn't bother them, not one tiny bit. They would stay outside all day if I let them. And, this is what tends to happen when they come inside and sit still for a moment. . .

You just have to love summer when you experience it with them!

Summer through their eyes is lemonade, swimming, and corn on the cob. It is strawberry shortcake, t-ball, and running full speed ahead through the freshly cut green grass. It is red hot cheeks, sweaty heads, and picking blackberries and blueberries from the backyard. It is screaming and running inside at the sight of a bee, stepping on ants, and sand sticking to their sweaty legs and arms. It is lots of extra scrapes, cuts, and bruises. It is watering the tomato plants and picking the crab-apples. It is going to bed while the sun is still up and talking for hours before finally drifting off into a deep peaceful sleep. It is skipping nap time occasionally in order to do fun things. It is doggy paddling from the steps to the safety of Mommy's arms. It is sidewalk chalk, big wheels, bikes, and water painting the exterior of the house. It is drinking water from the hose and carrying buckets full of leaves, dirt, worms, and caterpillars. It is helping Mommy wash the van and helping Daddy do the yard work. It is fresh fruit and fresh flowers, lightening bugs and lightening bolts. It is smores with Daddy and homemade ice cream with Mommy. And, for the first time since I was a child. . .

summer is fun!

Thank you, sweet boys, for helping me to realize how truly fun it is!!! Thanks for the best summer ever! I look forward to many more!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Red, White, and Blue - Our Way

That is. . .

Bleeding & bruising on fair, white, red headed little boy skin!





We he had another chin splitting good time!!


As I watched Elijah waddle excitedly towards me and then fall face up (chin down) on our concrete floors, I knew. I knew that when I picked him up there would be a split in his chin. And, sure enough, there was! But, thankfully, this time the good doctor said that my baby would heal okay without stitches!!! Yay!
I am beginning to think boys and injuries just seem to go hand in hand!


Friday, July 04, 2008

Mama's Sweetheart. . .

Joshua came over to me yesterday and gave me a sweet little hug and a cute little grin. I looked down at the precious little freckles on his nose and asked him. . .

"Are you my sweetheart?"

"Yes," he answered.

My heart began to ponder his starting kindergarten next month, and so I asked. . .

"Will you still be my sweetheart when you go to school?"

"No," he said very matter-of-factly.

I gasped and said, "What? You won't? Why not?"

And, he answered very confidently, "Because, then, I will be my teacher's sweetheart!"

I am sure you will be, my sweet boy. I am sure you will be. But, you can still be mama's sweetheart, too. Okay?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

If This Doesn't Work. . .

I may have to run away from home. . .



This is the last straw! I posted these pictures above the toilet in our most frequented restroom at home. Surely, hopefully, they will look up and allow my pictures to jog their memories of what I like to call "potty manners."
For some reason my darling little boys cannot remember to do the following four things when they use the restroom. . .


#1 Lift the seat up. (Call it laziness, but they often leave the seat down and leave little drips on the seat when they go!)


#2 Put the seat down. (Mommy does not want to fall in the potty when it is her turn to go - especially not 8 months pregnant!)
#3 Flush.
#4 Wash their sweet little hands!
Please God, let this work!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Transitional Lessons. . .

We are in such a stage of transition right now. I can count on nothing. I can only go with the flow and hope for good things to come. Good things like stability, routine, and a somewhat organized life.

It is no secret that I love order. I thrive on routines, lists, and plans. My favorite past-time is to sit by the pool while the big boys swim and Elijah naps and to write out new lists and routines. I make lengthy detailed cleaning and organizing lists beginning with the laundry room and working my way through the entire house, every room, every corner, and every closet. It just feels good to see a plan on paper. I swear it releases some sort of relaxing hormone that runs throughout my body and makes me feel like a new person. My house may not look any better, but I feel like a new woman after I make a new list. And, routines, oh, how I love to write out a new routine. From 7-8 we will do this, from 8-9 we will do this, and on and on. . .

I came back from my trip to Nashville ready to sit down and make a new routine for July. A routine full of fun summer activities, summer meals, and special treats and outings. But, that all came crashing down like the walls of Jericho after I was home for one day. Tuesday. It will go down in history as one of my WORST MOTHERING DAYS EVER. Was it the fact that I had gone a whole weekend without anyone hanging on me, and suddenly 3 people were clinging to me constantly? Or, was it the fact that everyone and everything seemed to be out of order? Elijah is suddenly thinking that maybe one nap a day will be enough for him. And, JCT is thinking that maybe he doesn't need a nap at all anymore. Yet, both of their precious little personalities turn to terror when they don't get the sleep they so desperately need. And, even though I have done this before, and I consider myself a somewhat seasoned toddler mother, I can't for the life of me figure out how to handle the mass sleep confusion.

They are also getting up so early each morning that I am finding it impossible to have a quiet time. If I get up at 5:30, inevitably someone comes down the stairs with a huge sunshiny grin at 5:35. Ugghh. And, if that is not enough, looming in the ever so near future are the winds of change. The great, mighty, and powerful winds of change that come when your oldest child leaves home to start kindergarten the very same month that you give birth to your fourth child. I told Erik to begin preparing himself for August because I will be a tearful ball of post partal hormonal mush. The tears will flow, freely, and I will not attempt to hold them back. Get ready, my friends, get ready.

So, amidst this time of chaos and craziness, God has taught me two things.

#1 On the practical side of things, this lesson is in regard to my strong desire for a structured routine. I am learning that structure just doesn't cut it for me - at least not right now. I cannot know if Elijah will sleep in the morning or the middle of the day or the afternoon and the same for JCT, so we cannot plan by times. So, much of what we do is based on when the boys nap. The answer to my problems is, get this - big surprise- a list!!! Now I go by a very basic list of things that must be accomplished each day. Once each thing is done, I simply cross it off and keep going. . . So, whether I read to the big boys at 9:30 with a snack or late in the afternoon while we sit outside waiting for Daddy to come home, it gets done. And, really isn't that all that matters - the fact that it gets done - not so much when - but simply that it gets done. I have applied "my list" routine this week, and it has been so much more relaxing and easy to follow. Maybe this old stuffy, stiff mama can learn to go with the flow after all!! I never know what each day will look like, but I know that the most important things will be accomplished. And, my number one priority, is getting my boys the sleep that they need when they need it - rather than trying to get them to fit into my schedule. Now, I am setting my schedule around what is best for them, and it is so nice. Enough, already. . .

#2 My Spiritual Lesson. . . I was so frustrated last Tuesday. Can I say that once again. Last Tuesday was like the hardest. day. ever. Okay, I said it. I got up early to have some time alone with God, to get focused, and JCT came hopping down the steps a few minutes later. I looked up at the ceiling and said, "God, You are kidding me, right?" The theme of my day was this, "I need to be alone. I need to be still. Jesus, I need to hear from you. Speak to me. I need Your words. I just need to be alone. with. You. now." I felt desperate. I tried everything to get them occupied for just 30 minutes or so. I tried toys, a movie, a game, swimming, anything that might allow me to sit still for a few minutes and ponder deep things - things like our schedule, my spiritual state, changes we need to make as a family, etc. But, the opportunity never came. It was. . .

All children.

All day.

No break.

But, guess what, to steal the words from one of my favorite movies ever, "Tomorrow is a new day." And, you know what? Wednesday was a new day, a good day, a revealing day. And, God taught me a lesson that I hope I never forget. This is huge to me. . .

Tuesday, I was searching for God, seeking Him with all my heart. I felt lost and alone. I felt as if I was a million miles away from God, and I was trying with all that was in me to find Him. But, I was seeking Him in the way that comes most natural to me. I was seeking to be alone with Him, to sit at His feet, to be quiet, to focus, to read His word, to study His word. And, all of that is well and good and needed and beneficial. But, it is not the only way to be intimate with God. As I learned on Wednesday, there is another way to intimacy with Him. . .

I went to bed Tuesday night completely defeated, the white towel thrown in as I lay my head down. But, His mercies are truly new each morning. I got up Wednesday morning and once again attempted a quiet time - to no avail. Little feet went pitter patter on the steps shortly after I took my first sip of coffee. But, the thought occurred to me that there will be many years to have uninterrupted quiet times, and I welcomed the little man into my lap. We sat together and instead of reading Beth Moore, I read about the differences between the Triceratops and the Oviraptor. Stimulating reading for 5 a.m., I assure you. Talk about getting your brain going early! Anyway, the day continued on that note. And, you know what, I have never felt so close to God.

Was it the 3.2 seconds of scripture reading that I got done before JCT entered my world that morning? Was that what made the difference between Tuesday and Wednesday?

No.

This time I didn't find Him in His word (I never got a chance to read it!). I didn't find Him in a lengthy time of prayer and reflection.

No.

I found Him in the eyes of my children. I found Him in sacrifice, in love, and in service. I found Him in the forgetting about my own needs and focusing on the needs of the ones around me. I felt so near to His throne all day as I swam with my boys, as I read to them, as we baked a chocolate cake, and as we sat together and watched a movie. . .

Somehow, I have a tendency to equate closeness with God in time spent alone with Him, but thankfully, He doesn't always work that way. And, as the busy mother of three, that is a huge relief because finding time to actually be alone with Him and concentrate is hard. Those moments are few and far between. Thankfully, He knows. He understands. And, He meets us where we are.

Even if that means on a swing set or in a pile of sand.

He is there.

That is just the kind of God He is, because that is the kind of Father He is.
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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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