Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas 2007 Recap

Unfortunately, we did not make a special trip to the mall to visit Santa this year. But, thanks to Joshua and his creative mind, the boys got to visit Santa in our very own family room!

For the first time ever we spent Christmas at home - just our family of 5!! The big boys came downstairs and crawled into bed with us just a little after seven on Christmas morning!! We had a slow, relaxing, lazy Christmas morning, and then we enjoyed a delicious Christmas dinner at Sean and Deana's. Thanks, Mrs. Diane and Deana B., for a wonderful, wonderful meal!!

I must mention,so I won't forget, that I took the boys shopping at Wal-Mart to pick out whatever they wanted to give Daddy. What did they choose? A kickball and the game Hungry, hungry hippos! Merry Christmas, Baby!

Then, on the 26th we headed to my parent's home. My sister, her husband, and their 8 children met us there! Talk about alot of fun and activity!!!!!

The first thing we did is a family tradition for my brother, sister, and I. My Dad reads the Christmas story and the children act it out. We've come along way since the days when Kristin, Kelly, and I acted out all the parts!

My Daddy reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke.

This is a picture of the angels, and JCT and I are shepherds - sore afraid!

And, now the three kings. . .

A picture of my sweet king and me!

After the Christmas pagent, it was time to open presents!!

Joshua's favorite gift. . . He is still carrying Larry the pirate around! Notice his shirt!

Kase and Joshua seemed to have bonded sweetly over this holiday. . .

My Daddy and a few of the kiddos. . .

A little friendly competition. . .

My sweet, sweet sister. . . She looks so comfortable with a baby in her arms! Wonder why?

Then, my sister's family went home for one of her son's basketball games, and my brother's family came! Whew!

My sister and Cecilia are both past the "baby stage." They are glad about that fact, but they both still love to hold babies. So, I basically hand off Elijah to either Kristin or Cecilia at every family gathering. And, Peyton, oh, sweet Peyton, she loves babies, too. She gave my 'Lijah so much love!!!! I love that girl and her sweet sister, too!!!

And, a holiday with my brother, Kelly, is never boring! If I tried to explain how much fun he is, my words would not do him justice! He is so sweet, so funny, so great!!!!!! I may be 30+, but I still believe that my big brother hung the moon. . . and the stars. . . and anything else that hangs up high!!! And, here he is with Avery and JCT!

This was really a nice Christmas - so much fun! It was a holiday of sipping coffee in pjs with people I love tremendously.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Slighty out of Context

Among the new and amazing toys that Joshua received for Christmas is a truck. And, not just any truck, it is a crane like truck similar to Lofty - for those of you familiar with Bob the Builder. This evening Joshua was playing with it in the mudroom. And, he proceeded to hook the crane to our vented utility room door. He then began reeling the crane in causing one of the wooden pieces of the vented door to bow. Watching him and cringing, I said, "No, sir, Joshua. You could break part of the door. You cannot do that."

To which he answered, "Yes. Yes, I can do it," then he smiled a sly little smile, looked me in the eyes and said with great confidence. . .

"I can do ALL things through Christ Who strengthens me!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Here's What's New on Our Walls. . .

Before I had children of my own, I would visit friends and relatives who made their houses virtual shrines to their children. Pictures of their little ones covered literally every wall in their home. I remember telling Erik early on, that we would never do that! We would have a picture here or there, but not everywhere!

Never say never.

Our walls are covered in pictures of our little men. And, I won't apologize for it. I love to look at pictures of my little ones, and I live here. So, little red-headed boys it is!!! :-)

I recently got these three pictures framed and hanging on the walls. I love this first one, I think mostly because I can feel it deep in my heart. I love my babies, and I always want to remember the moments of holding them close. They don't stay little long enough- I am learning that already!! I am hoping in 30 years when Elijah is a grown man that I will be able to look at this picture and remember what it felt like to hold him close, to feel his head on my shoulder, his body limp completely given out to tiredness, his soft fuzzy head against my cheek, his smooth baby skin, his sweet baby smell. . .

Okay, now this one is my favorite, hands down. It stops me in my tracks daily. I love how close it is! You can see the sugar wetness on his lips and the sparkle in his eyes. Love it! Elijah's wife will want this picture one day, but I'm not sure I'll be able to hand it over before I leave for heaven. I love to look at it!

Now, I love this one because it is the perfect representation of my big boys personalities. The photographer was attempting to get a picture of Erik holding both boys hands, but JCT refused to cooperate. He wouldn't face the right way, he wouldn't hold Daddy's hand, etc. So, Erik laughingly picked him up by his ankles, and the photographer grabbed the shot. The look on Joshua's face is priceless as he watches his unruly brother hang upside down! This picture is so typical of our daily life with these two unique personalities, and that is why I love it so much!

I love pictures because they capture moments. Moments that might otherwise be forgotten. Precious fleeting moments that are made timeless.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Full Life

My husband loves basketball. It is one of his great passions in life. He played basketball in high school and in college. As long as I have known Erik, he has played pick-up basketball with whoever is willing to play with him. And, through this he has made a great number of friends that he otherwise would never have met. Friends that may or may not go to church, friends of different cultures and ways of life. I have enjoyed meeting and getting to know many of these men.

Radar is one of them. Radar isn't his real name, but that is what they call him. I've always liked Radar. He is aggressive on the basketball court, but gentle and kind off the court. His eyes are bright with life and love. They shine, actually. And, rare is a time that I have seen him without a warm and welcoming smile. You see, Radar understands grace. He received it firsthand. I don't know the details of his conversion, but I know it was an amazing one. He once lived a life of drugs, alcohol, and the like. But, then he met Jesus, and now his blue eyes are as clear as a cloudless sky. He became a preacher, a good old country kind of preacher. His only training in ministry is the training the Holy Spirit gives him as he meets with him daily. He is a good man, and he has a special place in my husband's heart.

Erik called earlier today to tell me that Radar's youngest son (a teenager) was killed in a car accident this morning. (It was a horribly rainy morning here.) Erik said that he called Radar, and Radar answered the phone in tears. Erik was able to talk to him, and at the very least, let him know that we are thinking and praying for him and his family.

A week or so ago Deidre mentioned on her blog that one of the youth from her church was killed in a car accident. I commented on her post mentioning (vaguely from memory) a quote from the Journals of Jim Elliot. After Erik called to tell me about Radar's son, I went quickly to the bookshelf to look up the quote and read it word for word. I skimmed the entire book several times before I found the exact quote I wanted. Jim never intended for others to read these words. And, he had no way of knowing that in a few short years his life would be taken by the Indians with which he was so eager to share the gospel. But, yet he was very much aware of the fact that although his life was short (he was young) it had been very full. And, it is my prayer that these two teenage boys would have been able to say the same thing about the life God gave them. Here is the quote. . .

"Only I know that my own life is full. It is time to die, for I have had all a young man can have -- at least, all this young man can have. If there were no further issue from my training it would be well -- the training has been good and to the glory of God. I am ready to meet Jesus. Failure means nothing now, only that it taught me life. Success is meaningless, only that it gave me further experience for using the great gift of God -- Life. And, Life, I love thee, not because thou art long, or because thou hast done great things for me, but simply because I have thee from God. This writing is part of thee, and I am glad to write, not that there is any purpose in it for others -- it is simply part of Life, and Life I have come to love."

Jesus came to give us not just life, but life abundant. I have been challenged today to examine my own life and the fullness of it. If I died today, could I say that I had lived my life to the fullest? God gave me the gift of this life, let me not waste it, Lord. Let me do with it exactly as You would have me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Just for the record. . .

The other day as Joshua and JCT were sitting side by side on the bench at our kitchen table eating their lunches JCT leaned over to kiss Joshua on the cheek. Joshua swiftly dodged his kiss and said, "You can't marry me!"

I stepped in, "Just because he wants to give you a kiss doesn't mean he wants to marry you. He is just being sweet and giving you some lovin'!"

Joshua, ignoring my comment said, "You can't marry me, JCT. I am going to marry Afton or Peyton (one of his sweet cousins) or (and this is the best part) whoever Mommy wants me to marry."

That's what I'm talkin' about!!!!!!!!!

Can I have that in writing please?

Just kidding, but I am keeping this in the family records - just in case I need to pull it out one day twenty some odd years from now!!

On a serious note, if Joshua's sweet wife reads this one day, I want her to know that even before Joshua was born, I began praying for her! And, we will love her to pieces - no doubt!

Friday, December 14, 2007

All Christmas - All Cookies - All Day!!!!

Yesterday the boys and I spent the entire day making, baking, and decorating cookies! Looking back I can say that we had a blast, but the day did not go exactly as I had envisioned. . .

Elijah began the day with an explosion of epic proportions (if you know what I mean). The explosion was so large and toxic that between giving him a full body bath, changing sheets, laundering sheets and pjs, cleaning the mattress, etc. I began the day an hour behind schedule.

But, eventually the big boys and I did begin mixing ingredients together in order to produce some of my great grandmother's sour cream sugar cookies. I turned my back on the boys only momentarily to get some spices out of my spice drawer. When I returned to them I found that someone (I'm not naming names) stuck my recipe in the batter. His brother stood beside him smiling and giggling under his breath. A few minutes later that same sweet someone turned the upright mixer on before I was finished adding ingredients. And, he didn't turn it on the "stir" setting, so as you can imagine, the kitchen looked like a winter wonderland. Thanks for adding to the festiveness of the day, my darling JCT.

Isn't that the way it goes with toddlers? We dream up these beautiful, warm, cozy dreams of doing something memorable with our sweet little ones, and it never quite happens as smoothly or easily in real life. But, it is good - it may not be "easy," but it is good.

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she also has 3 children. She was describing to me her husband's birthday dinner. Their family went out to a restaurant to celebrate. She said with hesitation, "It was. . . umm. . . good. I mean really it was good. It is our family right now." And, I said, "Say no more. I know exactly what you mean." It may not be easy. It may not be relaxed and completely enjoyable. But, it is good. And, neither she nor I would trade our lots for anything. The blessings far outweigh the inconveniences.

So, about yesterday. . .

The boys had a blast. And, watching them have so much fun together made the entire day worth it! I love to watch my children interact and enjoy each other. These are life-long friendships that I am watching develop. Unique, precious friendships.

We also made Reeses PB cup cookies. I asked the boys to "undress" the Reeses cups. I think JCT ate most of the ones that he "undressed!" Here he is realizing that he has been caught after Mama has clearly told him over and over to not eat all the Reeses!

So, after slaving in the kitchen all day, Daddy came home and brought this.

Mrs. Vera, an eighty six year old patient of his, made him this delicious chocolate cake. Let's just say that there is enough sugar in our home to keep my boys hyped up and awake from now until Christmas. As you can see, Erik, JCT, and I opted for the chocolate cake over the cookies. Joshua chose to enjoy several sugar cookies.

And, as I watched him savor the sweet goodness of my great-grandmother's cookie recipe, it reminded me of a strawberry blond, pig-tailed, little girl who loved to eat those cookies twenty some odd years ago. I made Joshua look me in the eyes, and I said, "Do you taste that sweetness? That taste will become something you look forward to every year. We will make these same cookies every Christmas until you are grown. Enjoy them, sweet boy."

Then, after dessert the five of us sat together and watched Rudolf. The boys were glued to the TV throughout the movie, and as they watched I looked around the room. Elijah was playing quietly on the floor, and Erik had JCT snuggled on his lap. Joshua had his head in my lap, and I was scratching his back. These are the times that I hope they will remember.

Now today we are distributing some of that sweetness because I can only handle so much sugar under my roof at one time!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Run, Joshua, Run!

Joshua had a bad day yesterday. When Erik dropped him off at preschool, he said that Joshua looked back at him with big tears in his eyes before he rounded the corner to go into his classroom. It broke Erik's heart. Mondays are always hard, but this one was especially hard for some reason.

Erik came home for lunch yesterday. Erik never comes home for lunch. He has had the same job for 6 and a half years, and I can count on one hand how many times he has come home for lunch. He surprised me, but he didn't come home to see me. He walked in the back door, through the kitchen, and straight to Joshua in the family room. Erik sat on the ottoman, and Joshua stood between his legs. They talked. I'm not sure exactly what Erik said to him, but the moment was sweet - both of them completely focused on the other one.

Later yesterday evening after the boys were in bed, Erik told me that he had spoken with Joshua's teacher that morning. Mrs. Jenny is her name, and she is so sweet to my little man. She told Erik that during "gym" (recess) Joshua just sits beside her. He doesn't play. He just sits beside his teacher. And, the mental image of my sweet little boy sitting quietly beside his teacher instead of playing with the other children made my heart sad, very sad. I thought about it off and on throughout the night and this morning, too.

When I picked Joshua up today, Mrs. Jenny walked him to the car. Our conversation went something like this. . .

Me: Did he have a good day today?

Mrs. Jenny: Yes, he did have a lot better day today!

Me, as I breathe a sigh of relief: Oh, good.

Mrs. Jenny: Yeah, during "gym" my husband brought my little boy to see me. He sat on my lap. Then, my husband came to get him and take him home. And after they left, Joshua (who was, of course, sitting beside her) looked up at me and asked if he could sit on my lap. I said, 'Baby, don't you want to go play?' And, he said, 'No.' So, I said, 'Joshua, I want to see how fast you can run! Will you do me a favor and run as fast as you can across the gym?'"

(Now let me interrupt Mrs. Jenny and say that the Holy Spirit Himself spoke those words through her. Because Mrs. Jenny has no idea how much my Joshua loves to run. He has an imaginary track that goes across our entire front yard and around a big oak tree. He runs it over and over until his face is bright red and beaming! Sometimes he asks me to say "On your mark. Get set. Go." Sometimes he talks JCT into running with him - though JCT never stays at it very long. And, sometimes he runs and sings "Racing day, it's racing day. . . Racing day, it's racing dayyyy!" from the Backyardigans. The child loves to run! Loves. To. Run. In fact, this past Sunday night the entire children's ministry (kids from pre-k to 6th grade) walked laps around the church gym to raise money for Lottie Moon. Joshua is 4, and he came in 3rd place in money raised. His sweet cheeks were beautifully rosy throughout the evening worship service. And, his mama was so proud! Okay. . . back to Mrs. Jenny. . .)

"So, he ran across the gym like I asked, but then he just kept going. He kept running, and then eventually some of the other kids joined him and started running, too. And, that made it a good day!"

I thanked her profusely, and drove off smiling and singing "God is so good" to myself. And, then my mind turned to thoughts of Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire. I adore that movie. My favorite part is when his sister gives him a hard time about not serving God in ministry, and he says something like this, "I can't explain it, sis, but I know that running is what God wants me to do. He made me fast." Then, he says my favorite part, "When I run I can feel God's pleasure." Love that. I watched that scene a thousand times over in my mind as I trained for my marathon. Joshua isn't the only one in this family who loves to run!

So, as I drove to Erik's office, I compared my sweet child to Eric Liddell, a fine godly man who could run like the wind. When we got to Erik's office I told Erik the story Mrs. Jenny told me. But, a different runner came to Erik's mind when I told him the story.

He called Joshua the Forest Gump of Pre-K.

Somehow, I liked my thought a little better.

But, either way, I am simply thankful for a good day.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

In This Your Strength

I have been struggling as a mom lately. Questioning everything that I do as mom to my three precious little men. If you're a mom, I'm sure you have done the same thing from time to time.

All three of my boys are going through some sort of separation anxiety stage right now. Elijah is going through the normal - I am a nursed baby and there is only one who can fill my needs. Everyone else is a poor substitute. JCT has recently started crying when we drop him off at the church nursery. Why? I have no idea. I didn't see this one coming. He has always been my super independent son, and, also, the one I worry about the least. He usually just handles things, but lately he has been clingy. And, when he cries, it isn't the sweet silent tears of his older brother. No. He is my little fighter. So, you can use your imagination. And, Joshua, well, basically it is the same old same old with him. He doesn't want to go to school, but this past Wednesday evening he didn't want to go to church! What is going on? They are acting like our family has gone through some sort of traumatic event - a death, a move, something. But, nothing has changed. Believe me, I have analyzed it for days. Nothing has changed.

Joshua's separation anxiety bothers me the most. He has been going to preschool for months now, and he still doesn't like it. I felt sure we'd be through this by now. I was pouring my heart out to my mother about all this last night, and I received this email from her today. . . It was so encouraging, and I wanted to keep it for Joshua when he gets older. My mom travels for Kay Arthur's ministry (Precept). She is always challenging and encouraging me - not with her own words, but rather with His words. I am so thankful for her! So, without further ado. . .

"Listening to When I am with You from the Glorious CD.... that is one of my favorite songs on the CD. Listen to it and tell me what you think. When Daddy isn't around I listen to it, with my hands raised and just LOVE how it ministers to me.

Now, about sweet Joshua!!! Been praying. AND you are NOT doing anything wrong. He is a sweet sensitive child and will be an amazing young man... just wait and see. He is just in process. Learning all that God has for him to learn at his pace. Also have been learning in Judges that God left the enemy in the land to test Israel and to teach them war..... And translated to today could be every day is warfare, too... and the best weapon we have is the Sword of the Spirit... the Word of God. sooooo we gotta use it. Some scriptures will appear below... but also I am reminded that with Gideon (who was very fearful due to what was going on with Israel at the time... oh, so for today) yet God called him... Valiant Warrior. or literally, Mighty Man of Valor. And after God moved in his life that is exactly what he was. BUT he wasn't that the first day that God called him.... it took the angel of the Lord making his meal toast.... fleeces.... overhearing the enemy's fear.... and recognizing that God was truly who He said He was AND would win the battle for Israel. And God said... Peace... and don't be afraid... and Gideon made an altar and called it the Lord is Peace... Jehovah Shalom. GLORY!!!!!! In those chapters (6-8) there are several places where it says God is with you... and one place after it says that it says that Gideon is to go "in this your strength".. I love that. Go in the strength that is yours because He is with you.... opps... guess what Immanuel is now not only God with us.... He is God in us.... John 14. Sooooo fear can be turned to faith in us and in Joshua.... He just needs to experience God in that as he grows.... and in us as we minister to him from love and faith not fear. Was that a lot of words that I "vomited" and they didn't make any sense.

Here are some verses that God brought to me... Matt1:23 Immanuel.. God with us! Ps 34... all of it is great... but v. 4 says.. I sought the LORD and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Ps 27:1 The Lord is my Light and my Salvations ... Whom shall I fear... The LORD is the defense of my life... Whom shall I dread...
1 John 4:18... perfect love casts out fear. FEAR is just False Evidence Appearing Real....

outta here.... loving you and praying for you... and recognizing that God is working and will work and will bring you and Joshua and JCT and Erik and Elijah to completion ... He is faithful who promised and He will indeed do it.

NOW I KNOW THAT WAS TOO MANY WORDS!!!! Yikes... will send but you can delete at will.... you are loved... and loved and loved... and prayed for, too.

Umm. . . Delete it?


Thanks Mommy! Love you!

Isn't it so wonderful that God doesn't see us as we are, but instead He sees us as we will be! When the angel of the Lord came to Gideon, he was full of fear and doubt, but God called him a mighty man of valor. Thank you, Jesus!

And, isn't it a great reminder for Joshua as he walks into school each morning that his strength does not come from within himself? His strength does not come from a strong will, a strong body, a strong personality, a strong mind, or a strong following, but rather, his strength comes from the fact that He is not alone. In "this" your strength, our strength has nothing to do with "us" but rather with "Who" lives inside us. I love that!

In this your strength, my Joshua, my little mighty man of Valor, your strength lies in the One Who lives in you. And, there is not a doubt in my mind that He has great plans for you, my little warrior.

And, to my internet friends. . .

Go, in this your strength - that the God of all creation is with you.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Head Over Heals!!

I am so in love with my little man!!!

I was talking to my mom the other day, and laughing she said, "For being your third boy, you sure are silly over him."

Yes, ma'am, I am!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Warm Welcome to Winter

Yesterday afternoon I took Rain out, and I was struck by how windy it was outside. It reminded me of the kind of wind that ushers in a new season. "Winter?" I wondered. But, the wind wasn't that cold, just a bit chilly. By the time we loaded the boys in the van to go to church that evening, the wind had turned cold, almost bitter. I love it! This morning I walked around outside for a few minutes, and I noticed that almost all the leaves have fallen. The trees look cold and bare. It is cloudy and cold here today. Winter, I believe you have arrived!! As much as I love fall, I am welcoming you this year! It makes me want to make soup and cider - every single night! But, since Erik prefers pork chops and spaghetti to creamy delicious soups, I have to make my favorite cold-weather recipes sparingly.

The boys and I partook of the wintry weather by making a treat for the birds. We decorated a crab apple tree in the backyard with bird-friendly garland and ornaments. The garland is fresh cranberries, and the ornaments are pine cones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed. When we came inside after decorating the tree, JCT announced, "We did sumting berry impotant. We feeded da burds. Dat is berry impotant." I am not sure if deer like cranberries, but I am hoping that they do!

Even JCT's favorite T-rex got into the action!

We also made spice dough ornaments, and they smell wonderful!! And, once again I have cider simmering on the stove! Yummy!

It may be cold outside, but come on in - it is warm and cozy in here!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Renovation Pics - Kitchen, Family Room and Sunroom!!!!!

Okay, now let's see. . . In the kitchen we pretty much changed everything. Hands down, the best decision we made regarding the renovation was the decision to tear down the wall between the kitchen and the family room. I cannot tell you how many times each day I think about how glad I am that there is no wall separating me from my family. I can prepare lunches and watch Elijah crawl in the family room. I can cook dinner and watch Rachel Ray. And, the best part is that when I clean up after dinner I am not isolated in the kitchen. I feel like I get to be a part of the fun - even if I am washing dishes and cleaning counters. I love my new kitchen! I still have to pinch myself from time to time!!

This is a before picture of the kitchen table. Not much "big" changed here - molding, flooring, doors, hardware, and paint color.

After. . .

Now your back is to the table. Before. . .

After!!! I love my huge undermounted sink!! Great for cleaning babies and high-chair trays!

This is the wall that we had Mr. Cole tear down. Thank you, oh, thank you, Mr. Cole!!

The new cabinets utilize the corner in a much more efficient way! There is a little garage door type of cabinet on the counter in the corner. I store my upright mixer, can opener, toaster, and coffee grinder in that wonderful little space! Oh, and that column isn't for looks. It houses a large steel column for support - just in case you were wondering!

Okay, now we will move into the family room. Sorry the picture of the old french doors is so bad, but it is all I have! I think you can get the idea. We wanted a fireplace so badly, and that is why the french doors had to go. I really hated to see them go, but I love having a cozy little fireplace for winter evenings!!

Before. . .

Same wall after. . .

Another view before. . .

And, after. . .

Sunroom (a.k.a. Rain's room) before. . .

And, after. . .

That is all for my second installment! Can't wait to show you the rest!!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Reflections and Mistletoe

I just heard "The River" by Sarah McLachlan. It is a Christmas song, and I haven't heard it since this time last year. As soon as I heard the first few notes of the song, I felt a strange melancholy feeling come over me. Her music tends to do that to me.

Last year at this time, we were renovating our home and living in a small rent house in town. We didn't put up a Christmas tree or any decor. The finishing touches were being made on our home, and we were scheduled to move in after we got back from our holiday traveling.

So much has changed in my life over the past year. First of all, God blessed us with another sweet son, and what a blessing his little life has been! But, not only did God bless us with a son, but he blessed Erik and I by bringing two sets of our dearest friends to live close to us. First, Sean and Deana moved here last January. Then, over the summer Marcus and Sara moved here. And, my life is richer and fuller because of their presence here. I don't know how long we will all live close, but the day to day blessing of their friendships are a constant source of joy for me. And, I am thankful.

It has been a good year.

This year I have lived in the home that I love dearly. My family has grown. I got to have one of my best friends in the delivery room with me while I had Elijah. And, I got to be present in the delivery room while one of my best friends had her first child. I watched as my sweet boys took flowers to a precious little girl for the first time. I have grown to love and care for that sweet girl, and I have gotten to hear her call me "Aunt Erin." (Typing that makes my eyes burn with tears.) This year has been full. BBQs with friends, going to the pumpkin patch, Joshua starting preschool, playdates at the mall, watching my Elijah grow, watching my big boys become friends, my husband getting to work with his best friend. . .

Yes, it has been a good year. So, today after a long talk over a cold Caffeine free Dr. Pepper with a good friend, I am resting in the joy that is mine today. I'm attempting to not borrow trouble by worrying about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Today is good. And, today is where I am living - with all my heart and soul.

And, now after all my deep reflections, here are some pictures from this weekend.

We decorated for Christmas on Saturday. I exchanged my coffee for apple cider and put Christmas music in the CD player. Erik was gone all day - running a half-marathon and covering a local football game. He didn't get home until late in the afternoon. I had cider simmering on the stove top along with a pot of white bean chicken chili. The boys were busy decorating the Christmas tree cake we made to celebrate the day, and a mistletoe candle was burning on the counter top. Welcome home, sweet husband! I try my best to make our home as warm and inviting as I can for my love - especially after a long day. And, we had fun decorating the tree and eating cake and really just being together.

Elijah was so excited to see his Daddy!

The Christmas Tree Cake. . .

Yesterday I scanned the yard for mistletoe. "Around these here parts" the way people have told me to get fresh mistletoe is to shoot it out of the tree with a gun. The word "Erin" and the word "gun" really shouldn't even be in the same sentence because they aren't compatible. So, I am guessing fresh mistletoe is not going to be a real possibility for me. I just keep scanning the trees hoping that I can find some close enough to reach. . . with a ladder. . . a really big ladder. That stuff is high!!

For all of my distant friends and family: I am planning to finish posting our renovation pics soon. And, I will post a picture of the fall project in the backyard! Love you all!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No Wonder Rain Loves Them. . .

This is JCT feeding Rain part of his dinner. . .

Happy Seven Months, my sweet. . .

Oh, I do love you, my baby! You are a joy to my soul! You have managed to accomplish three major baby milestones this month!!

#1 You have teeth!!! How cute is your little smile now with those darling little toothers bottom center!!
#2 You are sitting up - and with marvelously wonderful posture I might add!
#3 You are crawling!! I didn't realize how fast you have gotten until last night. I was trying to put your big brothers to bed while you played on the floor in their room. I was attempting to hold, rock, and sing to JCT when I noticed you making haste toward the light in the hall - and the steps are just around the corner. So, I kept having to put JCT down and chase after you!! Your big brothers found this quite humorous.
I love you, my little man! I adore your plump cheeks. I could kiss them all day long!! I'm thankful for another month to hold and love on you! Keep growing and smiling! May nothing steal the joy that fills your precious heart!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fish, Flying, and Family

We traded fall leaves for palm trees and headed to central Florida for Thanksgiving. Erik's family lives there, and so we flew down for a fun little mini vacation.

Doesn't that sound so sweet and simple. . . "and so we flew down there for a fun little mini vacation. . ." As anyone who has flown with more than two children can tell you, it isn't simple. But, it is good - once you exit the plane that is.

Let me begin by saying that it hit me several hours before we had to leave that there are two fish in two bowls sitting on my kitchen counter. And, I felt sure that they wouldn't be able to fend for themselves while we were gone, so I had to get a sitter. Who better than the boy's trusty sitter?? Sweet Andrea, who slept at our house the night Elijah was born, agreed to keep our fish for us. I thought that this would be simple. Erik would hold one bowl, I would hold the other, and we would drive to Andrea's house to drop them off - along with all necessary fish care items and a detailed instruction list entitled "All you need to know about our fish."

Let me begin by saying Erik was not in agreement with me about all this. He thought that we should leave and let die - if you know what I mean. Imagine. Umm. No thanks, honey, how would we explain that one to the kids? After a short discussion, we decided to drop the fish by Andrea's on the way to the airport. Erik assured me that this was not a good idea, that it would be a mess, we would get wet, and that we should just give Andrea a key. And, make her come over to our home twice a day to feed our fish. Maybe for a dog, but not fish. I mean, really Erik, how hard can it be to drop off the fish?

It started out fine. We made it out of the driveway. He held Zack the tank killer with one hand and drove with the other, and I held Dora with both of my hands.

But, as soon as we turned onto the road. . . HUGE SPLASH in my lap. We both heard it. We both saw it. Erik just shook his head, and very sarcastically said, "You should really listen to your husband. Sometimes he knows what he is talking about." We dropped off the $3 fish along with $20 for Andrea, you know, for all the laborious work of watching our fish. What is wrong with that last sentence?

Anyway, we then headed to the airport, fish water wet pants and all.

Oh, have I ever mentioned on this blog that I hate to fly? Well, I do. I hate it, abhor it. I have flown for as long as I can remember. I have flown to Israel and back, to Honduras, and every other week to see Erik when we were dating. . . But, once I was flying home from visiting Erik and there was a little thunderstorm, and I have never been the same. Terrifies me. But, I have to be strong, to act like it is fun, you know, for the kids and all.

So, there I sat in row 18 with Joshua on one side and JCT on the other and Elijah in my lap. Oh, Erik? Yes, he was there. . . across the aisle sitting next to a sweet, quiet old lady.

No one ever said that life would be fair.

Let's just say that I clutched Elijah like a scared child clutches his teddy bear. Elijah was my security blanket. I held him and intermittently kissed his head for comfort. I tried to focus on the boys, but I am seriously near panic attack until the plane begins descending. And, the closer we get to the ground the more my body begins to relax. I hate to fly, every single second of it. So, if I ever fly to see you, know that you are loved, deeply. I wouldn't go through that for just anybody.

Oh, and I learned a neat trick. Don't freak if your two year old son drops, oh let's just say for the sake of example, 4 trucks on the floor of the plane. And, let's just say that you are holding a sleeping baby, so you can't reach under your seat to get them. No worries! When you land they'll just roll right back to you. Easy as pie. Thanks, Mr. Pilot.

Seriously, I don't like flying. I always check out my pilot upon entering the plane. Does he look experienced? Is he old or young? I prefer middle aged pilots - not to old, not to young. Seasoned. I always analyze their voice on intercom. Do they sound like their hiding information? Like maybe the plane is quickly running out of fuel or another plane is rapidly approaching or there is an engine failing, mechanical failure, a bomb threat, a thunderstorm approaching, a hurricane, or maybe the co-pilot is talking because the main pilot is having a heart attack right there in the cockpit!!!

And, not just the pilot, I analyze the stewardesses too. Yes, I do. Do they look worried? Do they look like they are hiding information, putting on a happy face - but underneath their smile is the knowledge that the plane is threatened, our very lives are in grave danger. . .

Oh, and I also analyze the sounds of the plane. The pilots really throw me into a tizzy when they shift gears. I even involuntarily grabbed Joshua's hand on the way there as we were ascending. He didn't know that it was because I was scared half to death. He just thought I was loving on him. He looked up and smiled at me, and through gritted teeth, I smiled sweetly back at him.

And, you don't even want to hear about turbulence. . . I won't even go there. . .

And, I always scan the plane for possible terrorists or just plain crazy people who might do something desperate. My husband would argue that I am the only crazy person on the plane. It tickles him. He even rates my performances. How well did I hide my fears on this trip? He gave me a 7. And, I am proud of my 7.

Now the trip itself was wonderful. Jen and I had a wonderful time!! She was like fresh, clean water for my thirsty soul. God is so good to use our sweet friends and sister-in-loves to refresh us!! All the children had a blast! Oh, and at Thanksgiving dinner, the children went around the table telling what they are thankful for. . . Joshua said his bunk bed. The others said, family, mommy, etc. But, JCT, oh, my darling JCT, would you like to know what he said?

With a grumpy, pouty face, he declared, "I'M NOT THANKFUL FOR ANYTHING!!!!"

And, so that was that.

Joshua who is known to cry when we leave family. Was crying the last day that we were in Florida. Jen, who loves my Joshua so tenderly, came and put her arm around him. She assured him that we would all see each other again soon, that all would be okay. She told him that she was sad, too, and that she didn't like to say goodbye either. After talking sweetly to him for several minutes, he looked up at her with tear-filled eyes and said, "I can't find my shoes." She asked if that was why he was crying, and he said, "Yes." Laughing to herself, she agreed to help him find his shoes. . .

When we entered the airport in Florida, it was sunny and 80 degrees. When we exited the plane later that evening, it was 40 degrees and raining. As I stepped off the plane, the cool fall air surrounded me like a soft sweet welcoming home. All in all it was a wonderful trip.

And, I had a great idea when I picked up Zack and Dora yesterday. Why not put them in cups to transport them! Sheer brilliance. . . only a bit late.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sumo of the Superyard XT

Had I known when I bought the "Superyard XT" that my precious sons would turn it into a fighting ring, I certainly would not have purchased it.

It was all quite innocent I assure you. Elijah is beginning to crawl a bit more quickly. And, since our floors are concrete, I thought it wise to buy something that would contain him on the rug. My hope was to save him from injury. Little did I know that one of my other children might become injured due to this new "toy."

Once again I would like to thank the creative minds at Big Idea (Veggietales) for planting this idea in my son's heads. Sumo of the Opera is one of their favorite movies, and it was the inspiration for their "ring." They took their shirts off, stood in opposite corners, puffed their tummies out as big as they could, and then ran at eachother. I think you can imagine what happened next. . .

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Our Sunday School Assignment

As part of a Sunday School assignment, Erik and I are supposed to make a list of things for which we are thankful. The tricky part is that we were asked to think "outside the box," i.e. not listing the obvious - family, etc. Because I have trouble seeing past the 4 darling men that I love so much, I have procrastinated on this assignment. But, I no longer have time to procrastinate, so here goes. . .

1.) I am thankful for a warm home on a cold day. The other day the boys and I played outside until our fingers and noses were red and sore. After much convincing and corralling, I herded the big boys toward the back door all the while holding sweet, warm, 'Lijah in my arms. When we got to the back door, I made them stand out in the cold a little longer as I looked at them. Red noses, rosy cheeks, coats, hats, and icicles for fingers, they stood impatiently waiting for me to open the door. I was overwhelmed by the blessing of the moment. And, I said, "Boys, I want you all to experience one of Mama's favorite things. . . Are you ready? Okay, when I open the door, I want you to walk inside and notice the warmth of our home in contrast to the cold you feel now." So, slowly I opened the door and guided them inside. The blessing of a warm home filled our cold bodies, bringing life and feeling back to our fingers and toes. Now, I am certain that they didn't comprehend the blessing in all of this, but I did. And, I do nearly every time I enter our sweet warm haven on a cold day. There is no place like home, at least not on this side of heaven.

2.) This one probably should have come first - oops! I am thankful for a relational God - for a God who doesn't simply look down on me from heaven above. But, rather I am thankful for a God Who walks with me - each moment of each day. I am thankful that He sits with me on the steps of our staircase while I put my face in my hands and cry out to Him for wisdom on dealing with an unruly toddler or an inconsolable baby. I am thankful for the wisdom He imparts to me in the necessary moment when I am disciplining a child or explaining a deep spiritual truth to a four year-old mind. And, I am unbelievably thankful that love covers a multitude of sins. Because after a long day of losing my temper repeatedly, being overly selfish with my time, and complaining way too much, my boys somehow, unbeknownst to me, know without a doubt, without a question, that they are loved and loved deeply.

3.) I am thankful for the small things, the simple things that take place everyday. Things like the sound of my boy's laughter and my baby cooing, a good morning kiss from my sweet husband, the smell of a hearty meal cooking in the oven, a sunset, a sunrise, the smell of coffee brewing first thing in the morning, a hot shower, the feel of Joshua's sweet hand in mine, JCT's kisses through the crib rails, Elijah's fuzzy head nuzzled under my chin, the sound of my mom's voice on the phone, good health, the way I feel after a good run, and a million other things that I consistently take for granted.

4.) I am thankful that my boys have a godly, and handsome, Daddy to look up to as they grow. Erik models selflessness and walking with God breath by breath for our boys. He attempts to show them through everyday life that Christianity is not about rules and is not simply a religion passed from generation to generation, but rather that it is a living, breathing, moment by moment relationship with the loving God that created them. And, he is modeling for them that a life of following hard after Christ is a wild adventure, never stale, never boring. He shows them God's grace daily as he disciplines them. I'm not sure my boys will ever know how very blessed they are to follow in their Daddy's footsteps.

5.) And, last but certainly not least, I am thankful for a man named Biff who lives in Jacksonville, Arkansas. He works hard day after day to make the coffee that has given me reason to rise from the comfort of my bed morning after morning for the past 10 years. Bifferdoodle Decaf. is the sole reason that I am a self-proclaimed morning person.

Now for Erik's list. He has the gift of brevity unlike his wife. Last night, we discussed our lists, and his list was simple and to the point.

1.) He is thankful that he gets to work with his best friend.
2.) He is thankful for Endorphins
3.) And, lastly, he is thankful for Special K with Strawberries.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Autumn Morning

And, even when the trees
have just surrendered
to the harvest-time. . .
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
and sending us inside. . .

Still, I notice You when change begins. . .

And, I am braced for cooler winds. . .

I will offer thanks for what has been

and whats to come. . .

You are Autumn. . .

-Nichole Nordeman

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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