The Re-Set Button I Least Expected

Do you ever wish for a reset button?

I mean, for real. Something that just takes everything that has transpired throughout your day (or morning, or the 40 minutes since you woke up – depending on the severity of the day and how soon you need such a button) and gives you a re-do. A fresh start. A blank slate.

Today I needed one of those.

One of our pastors mentioned during his sermon on Sunday that he and his wife are coming out of a season of little kids where you’re so exhausted and so sleep deprived and so emotionally depleted that you feel like you just have absolutely nothing left to give.

Boy are we in that season.

Last night, for instance, went something like this:

6:00: put Lawrence to bed

6:30: read stories to the older two and do the bedtime routine.

7:00: clean-up from the day. Sort/organize/dinner dishes/put away the rest of the groceries we didn’t get to earlier in the day

8:00: finally sit down. Attempt to watch a show. Decide we were too tired. Head to bed.

9:00: baby wakes up. Convince him he doesn’t need to actually nurse and put him back to bed

9:30: finally fall asleep

9:50: baby wakes up. Give in and just nurse him out of sheer desperation to just be able to sleep tonight. He’ll be 18 some day and grow out of this, right?

10:30: child A wakes up from a dream. Comfort them. Attempt to go back to sleep.

11:30: child B needs to go potty. But instead of coming and telling you they wander in the hallway and whimper for a while until they can’t hold it any more. Roll back out of bed. Get everything cleaned up. Change child’s sheets even though they didn’t wet the bed because they’re convinced they MIGHT have.

12:15: finally go back to sleep.

2:00: baby wakes up again.

2:30: go back to sleep. Or, well, attempt to because:

3:00: Thunder wakes up older children. Check radar on your ridiculously bright cell phone screen with bleary eyes. Convince them it’s almost done. Fall asleep laying on their floor.

3:30: wake up, stiff from sleeping on a floor and go back to room and attempt to sleep again.

3:35: Thunder wakes up older children again. Go back in their room. Talk to them until it quiets down.

4:00: Go back to bed.

4:30: More thunder and more screaming.

4:45: Husband gets up to get ready for work, so you scrap the idea of sleeping on the kid’s floor and pull them in bed with you instead for hopefully another hour of sleep. (Or the first full hour of sleep you’ve had all night?)

4:45-5:30: Say “be quiet and go to sleep” 14 times per minute.  Get kicked, scratched in the face, hear heavy breathing right in your ears. . . get kicked some more. Fix the blankets. Fix pillows. Go back in their room in search of a beloved stuffed animal that got left behind and must be “scared of the thunder.”

5:40: finally, FINALLY doze off

6:00: baby wakes up for the day. Scrap the idea of ever sleeping ever in your life and get everyone breakfast.

And then from 7:00am – 1:00pm deal with repeated arguments, fights, unkind words, a baby who refuses to nap, and everything else that goes along with little sleep and a dreary, rainy day stuck inside with three children under 6.

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1:00 pm: sit down at your computer (with your second cup of coffee, that doesn’t seem to be doing much more than your first cup did for your exhaustion) to edit some photos while the kids rest and consider posting something on Facebook about needing a re-set button in an attempt to have someone, anyone, understand just how terrible this whole day has been and how desperately tired you are, when the Holy Spirit inexplicably and distinctly brings the following verse to mind:

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

I kid you not, mid-typing this is what I think of. This verse, of all things.

Sigh.

Really, God?

Really?

. . . . . . . . . oh – kay.

Sigh.

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Because, you see, today I don’t NEED a reset button; I AM the reset button. ME. My words. My responses. My answers. How I deal with the over-tiredness of today.

A GENTLE answer turns away wrath, but HARSH words stir up anger.

And there it is.

There has been plenty of anger today.  From all parties.

Sure, I could give a million excuses as to why:

I’m short on sleep too, after all. I didn’t even get a chance to shower. I haven’t had a single moment of space to myself in the last 24 hours.

Or I could (unfairly) displace my anger somewhere else:

My husband goes to work and sits in a tiny cubicle away from all these demands while I get to deal with the fighting and the bickering and the over-tired kids in a tiny house non-stop. For HOURS and HOURS and HOURS.

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Or, I could lay all of the blame on the kids for everyone’s sour moods, including my own.

I could feel sorry for myself. Justified in my irritation. I could beg the universe for a re-set button.

But, what did that verse say? A gentle answer turns away wrath.

And the truth of the matter is, despite my lack of sleep, I’m called to have that gentle answer. To BE that gentle answer. To shepherd the hearts of a 5 year old with so much pent up frustration and energy from being cooped up inside that he’s taking his boredom out on the house and his sister and anything in his path JUST to cause problems and the almost-4 year old who gets emotionally overwhelmed when she’s overtired and begins to overreact and snip and whine, and the baby who knows that everyone is on edge and begins to fuss and fight and demand attention, banging his chubby little fist on his tray and hollering with the rest of them.

A GENTLE answer.

A gentle answer.

Some of the seasoned moms that I know and greatly respect seem to have that quality. The “gentle answer” quality. The quiet, peaceful, steadiness-in-the-midst-of-the-storms gentleness that I just don’t feel like I have today. Today I have the: “beg someone to take my kids for an hour and run screaming from my house quality.” Not exactly the same thing.

Granted, they probably had their moments when their kids were toddlers too. But I think of them sometimes when I’ve got a baby on my hip and have exerted every ounce of my patience in the past two hours and find myself hysterically shrieking:

“JUST STOP!! STOP! EVERYONE STOOOOOOOP!!!”

Yeah, not moments I’m proud of. But believe me, I have them.

A gentle answer turns away wrath.

And just like that, there’s my re-set button. It starts with me. It starts with MY answers. MY reactions. My guidance and help when they’re overtired and at their wit’s end.

“But, God, I AM too! What about MY wit’s end?”

But even as I ask that question I already know the answer. Because I serve a God who’s strength is shown in my weakness. Who has promised to guide, lead, and help me in my walk with Him, and in my role as a mom. Who’s love for me is perfect. Who’s love for my kids is perfect.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:9)

And it’s that grace that allows US to be our own reset buttons.

It’s not as glamorous or as easy as an actual button would be. But, since when did this mom gig, or our spiritual walk for that matter, come with buttons that did the hard work for us?!

So today my gentle answer is a walk to collect acorns. Letting them pile them in the stroller (that I JUST CLEANED OUT FROM ALL THE SQUIRREL-LIKE KID-NESS AND STICKY HALF-CHEWED PUFFS, YESTERDAY. YESTERDAY. IT WAS CLEAN FOR LESS THAN 24 HOURS!) . . .But, yes, I can clean it again.

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A gentle answer.

It’s stopping to admire the bugs and the rocks and the treasures along the way.

A gentle answer.

Making them something special for a snack for after nap/rest times. Physically getting on their level to talk to them about what is going on. Talking through how they’re feeling. Sitting on the floor, ignoring the laundry for an hour or so, and just BEING.

Being that quiet answer.

Reining in my frustration, re-aligning my heart and my attitude to what God is speaking to my own soul and letting Him use ME as the reset button for my house today. Yes, sleep tonight will help everyone. So will me actually finding time to shower later. But for now, for me and for them,

A quiet answer turns away wrath.

And that, that is enough for our today.

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My Mother’s Day Photos 2017

A few years ago, I asked Sam if he would take my camera and get some pictures of the kids and I for me for Mother’s Day. It’s something that we’ve done again and again and though we’re sometimes realllly late in doing them (Mother’s Day in July anyone?!) I always treasure them. We did this year’s a few weeks back but I had some other photos to finish up for clients before I could process our own.

And, Oh. My. Goodness.

Despite the fact that they were cutting wet grass that morning and our shoes all turned green, and – I mean – have you ever tried to get kids to pay attention to pictures when there’s a LAWN MOWER IN THE BACKGROUND?!!

But we still managed to get some good ones and I’m so very glad we did them again. (And I’m sorry if this is a total pictures overload, I just can’t pick favorites!!).

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While we were at it, I took some pictures of Sam and the kids and we attempted a family photo using my tripod & timer. . . you can probably imagine how THAT went. Haha. But we got a couple that mostly worked, and with three kids under 6 and taking them ourselves, that was as good as it got.  Haha.

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The other funny (er, frustrating) part this year was that we had forgotten Lawrence’s stroller and couldn’t trust him to not turn totally green in the freshly mowed, wet grass, or to not eat – and choke on – everything he could reach if we set him down. . . so both Sam and I took many of the photos with Lawrence on our hip and the camera in our other hand.

And I’m not sure if that gives us major mom and dad points or photographer points or what, but we rocked it. Even if the man with the lawn mower DID seem to shake his head at the spectacle at times. 😉

But hey, we did it, I love them, and the kids – who may or may not have been bribed with a special snack afterwards – stuffed their faces with the frosting-iest donuts Wegmans had to offer that morning, so it was a win all around!

 

 

When the Days are Wearying

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Yesterday was an extremely discouraging day for me. I went to bed thinking about all that I did – or tried to do – and how much it all felt pointless.

The laundry that I worked so hard to get done that will just need to be washed again. Tomorrow.

The 12,000 things that I picked up off the floor every minute of the day so that the baby wouldn’t find them only to have him choke on a minuscule piece of dried, crusty food that he picked off the side of the chair leg.

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The long conversation that I had with my older two about kindness and the way we do and don’t treat people in our family that I felt like they finally really “got,” only to walk upstairs to nurse the baby and hear them start shouting at one another and hear the telltale SMACK as one hit the other in retaliation for whatever the perceived wrong was.

The food that burned to a crisp on the stove while I changed the baby’s diaper.

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Yesterday (or, let’s be honest here, a LOT of days), it feels like I work so hard, so long at so little. What I teach is forgotten, what I clean is messy again, what I try and prevent, 4 other things happen in their place. For someone who is very good at working towards a GOAL, it’s so incredibly frustrating sometimes.

And yesterday, I felt totally defeated.

Totally and utterly defeated.

But today I woke up with Galatians 6:9 on my mind – so much so that I’ve copied it down and posted it on the fridge next to the sink.

“Let us not grow weary of doing good. . . “

And as I let those words pour over me this morning as I scrubbed the breakfast dishes, I was reminded that I’m not in this for an end-of-day result. On some days, I may not see the “good” from what I’ve done. It may not feel like I’m accomplishing anything. For days. Or weeks. Or months. Or years. Sometimes it will, but sometimes it just won’t.

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But in this shepherding of little hearts, in these busy days with little ones, in this so important task that God has given to me called motherhood – and all that goes with it, I cannot grow weary. Even when I don’t see the good. Don’t see the results. Don’t see the reward.

The promise is that I WILL reap.

And I’m clinging to that today as I wring out my mop water. As I walk for hours with a teething, fussy baby who refuses to nap or be put down, bouncing him on my hip as I do schoolwork with my oldest. As I, for the four millionth time, help my older two learn how to resolve their differences, how to process their emotions. As I attempt to lead these little hearts – and my own – to the cross, to His grace. Over and over again. Day in and day out.

Today, instead of choosing to feel defeated, I’m clinging to the words echoing in my heart:

“Don’t be weary, mama. Don’t give up. You WILL reap.”

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The “Knee Step.”

It’s a simple thing. A simple request. But it’s bedtime. And there are a zillion requests.

We always do the same things at bedtime. We do jammies and teeth brushing and bedtime stories. Then we head to their room and sing songs (whatever is requested that night – usually anything from “I’m a little teapot” to “Edelweiss” or “Amazing Grace”). And then Sam and I each take a turn praying over the kids individually, listening to their prayers, and then tucking them in and kissing them goodnight.

Which all sounds sweet. And sometimes it goes off without a hitch. Sometimes it’s hilarious. Tonight, for instance, one of my children told God all about their boogers. And there were endless giggles when Daddy changed the words of “I’m a little teapot” to “I’m a little sneeze pot.”

But some nights, it’s so exhausting. And we’re just already so spent from the way the day has gone that we just want to check all our boxes and peace on out of there. I love my kids. But some nights by around 7:30 I am just at the end of what I have to give. The very end. And it always seems to be those nights that they woke up the baby on the way up the stairs and so one of us has gone in to calm him down and the other tries desperately to corral the older two who think jumping and running and shoving is suddenly necessary. Or they need drinks. Or they suddenly remember that they need chap stick or lotion or tissues, or that they left one of their beloved stuffed animals downstairs, or they’ve noticed that the pajamas that they’ve worn at least weekly for the past YEAR have a tag in them that’s now SO ITCHY they can’t possibly sleep in them!! . . . I’m telling you, I have heard it ALL. Bedtime is the great exposer of all sudden-emergency needs.

Someone please tell me this isn’t just at our house, right?!

Gah. Bedtime. Such sweetness and frustration all mixed together in an impossible jumble of “please, please just go to sleep. Please. I love you dearly. Please sleep. Please, please, please.”

And somewhere in the midst of it all, when we’re trying so hard to just be gracious and patient and yet we’re just so exhausted and want to get them tucked in so that we can, finally, for the first time since 6 am get just a few minutes of space from EVERYone and EVERYthing. . . Clara asks for a “knee step.”

She used to call it a “knee test.” Which made no sense at all. It has nothing to do with a test. And I have no idea where that even came from. But what she wants is for her daddy or me to kneel next to her bed with one knee on the ground and the other extended in front of us, foot flat on the ground to effectively make a 90 degree angle so that she can hold our hand and step on our leg/knee as she climbs her way into her bed.

She’s perfectly capable of climbing into her bed on her own. She does it to get her animals or her baby dolls in and out of there during the day, unassisted. I know she has the skill set required to do it. And yet, every night, without fail:

“Can I have a knee step?”

It is so very humbling to me, as a mom. This simple knee step.

“Mom, will you do this thing? Will you still, in all your tiredness and frustration, kneel down on the floor for me? Help me even though I don’t really NEED it? Am I important enough to you for this? Have I tried your patience too much tonight?”

I don’t really know why it’s THIS thing. Out of all the mommy-ing tasks that I do all day, it’s this one that strikes me every night. It’s this last request of the day. This thing that she wants when I’m at the end of myself, when I have no more to give. And yet, every time, every night for months now, the Holy Spirit tugs on my heart when I look at her eager face and hear those words:

“Can I have a knee step?”

And every night, kneeling there on my kids’ floor, amidst the toys and the shredded tissues and crumpled stickers suddenly feels like a holy moment. And I know, deep down, and for perhaps the first time in the midst of what has usually been an exhaustingly full day, that this is what serving the Lord looks like at this time in my life. At this full-time stay-at-home barely-showered, baby on my hip, dinner-cooking, band-aid giving, errand-running, crayon-coloring mommy stage.

I serve Him by serving them. In bending my knee for my daughter to climb on, I’m bending my knee to my creator. Submitting my will to His. And I may not get it all right. There are days when I’m distracted, days when I’m selfish, days when I’m just plain overwhelmed. Days where we’re sick and we watch Thomas the Train for a ridiculous number of hours. Days when I nail it and we do school and science projects and take a walk in the fresh air and eat freshly baked bread for snack and I feel like I’m rocking this mom thing. Days when I feel completely fulfilled and days when I feel like I’ve completely lost myself – or completely lost my mind.

But somehow the knee step, this simple, day’s end way of serving my daughter, shifts my perspective regardless of how the rest of the day has gone. And so, every night, I kneel down beside her bed and grab her hand – tuning my heart to His as I do.

“Sure, peanut. You can have a knee step.”

“I love you mommy.”

“I love you too.”

 

Lawrence Josiah (part II)

There’s this thing that happens when Sam and I sit down to choose names for our children. We make it about 4 minutes before the suggestions start to get a little ridiculous.

For instance, Sam kept insisting that we use “Annette” as Clara’s middle name (which, when said quickly together would make her sound like a wind instrument). I quickly ruled out anything star-wars related, and we laughed over the thought of using some obscure bible name. Ehud? Nebuchadnezzar?

The kids insisted, after seeing part of Cinderella, that we call the baby “GusGus.” (which we also decided against, haha).

All in all though, we tend to agree on names pretty quickly (or rule them out pretty quickly). Lawrence was one we thought of at the very beginning and it just stuck with us. We loved how it sounded with Oliver and Clara – it just seemed to fit.

Josiah, however, we picked not just because we liked it, but for it’s meaning: “Jehovah has healed.” As I went in for monthly blood draws to monitor the antigens in my blood, we prayed and believed for a miracle. Believed for healing. Believed that Lawrence would be unaffected.

And, the antigens that they had told me would ALWAYS be there did not show up on a single test. The name that we chose in faith all those months ago became such a testimony of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

And, what a beautiful testimony he is.

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I had my sister, Jen, snag a couple of family photos for us when she was here too.

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And of course my mom and dad jumped in some too:

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And then, while the big kids went bowling with grandpa and grandma, I snagged a few photos of just Lawrence.

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I’m hoping to maybe get a few more once I’m not so sore, but I knew I had to capture some early on before he changes too much!

Thank you, once again, to all of you who prayed and stood in faith with us – and for all of the congratulations and well-wishes this past week. I can still hardly believe he’s ours (except that he looks so much like his brother did as a baby that it’s uncanny!) and that we’re now a family of 5!

Lawrence Josiah (Part I of II)

I don’t think I’ve ever really written out our birth stories, though I have read many such posts from others. I suppose I’ve felt a little “out” of that club. My birth stories do not include tubs and exercise balls and my husband rubbing my back through contractions. Well, the first one did. For 30 hours. Followed by about three hours of pushing. Followed by my rings being cut off of my very swollen fingers as I signed surgery consent forms.

My birth stories include triage rooms and cold, sterile operating rooms with large lights. They include wall to wall cabinets of supplies, blue drapes, machines and computers, and teams of people in scrubs, hats, and surgical masks. They include sitting on the table, holding onto a nurse’s hands because my husband is not allowed in the room yet, while the anesthesiologist inserts a spinal block that numbs me from the ribs down.

It’s not what I had planned. Not what I had expected. Not what people usually write about.  But they’re our stories. And they’re still stories of God’s faithfulness to us, and graciousness to me.

This time around, I struggled with a lot of fear at first, laying on that table. But as they began their preparations and all the buzz of activity swirled around me and I waited for Sam to be allowed to come in, the verse that my mother in law had sent to me a couple weeks prior echoed in my heart in a continual loop:

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Perfect peace. What a promise while lying in an operating room.And yet, as Sam was allowed to come in the room, the oxygen tube was placed in my nose, and things began, that is where I found myself. Perfect peace.

I’m not usually an overly emotional person, but my tears started before our baby was actually born. Awash with peace and thinking about God’s incredible faithfulness during this pregnancy, I cried as they told me: “Not long now. He’s almost here.” The tears dripped onto my hospital gown as Sam squeezed my hand and we waited to hear that telltale baby cry.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with my surgical team at Strong. Every one of them. Having only had an experience at one prior hospital, I kept comparing it to what it had been before, and this time was just so, so different. The entire team joked in the room and took bets on how big he would be. The anesthesia team, sensing Sam’s and my nerves, struck up a conversation about kids shows and which ones are too annoying to actually let our kids watch. The pediatrician pulled up a stool by my head and chatted with us while the doctors worked, and I can remember laying there, holding Sam’s hand, laughing and joking with them. Until I got all emotional and switched to crying, that is…

But, really, I’m so grateful for the team we had. Not only that, but they used a clear drape this time so that they could peel back the blue drapery, the anesthesiologist could lift my head, and I could actually see the moment he was born. I was a little nervous about this option – not knowing exactly what I’d see and NOT being the nursing/doctoring/ok with blood type – but it was basically like a normal birth. I couldn’t see anything else besides that baby, and that first glimpse was incredible.

He screamed from the second they held his head, before the rest of him was even out of me, and everyone in the room laughed out loud.

“Check that out! He’s already shouting! He isn’t even fully out yet!”

“Where in the world have you been hiding this baby?”

“I bet I’m right! He looks over 10lbs!”

“Girl, I’m seeing this, but I can’t believe that baby fit in you.”

“He has knee rolls!”

“He’s perfect!”

“Gosh, just look at that face!”

“So, now he’s born…what’s his name?! It’s killing me! I won’t tell your parents what it is!”

Unlike at the previous hospital, where they took the baby out of the room immediately, the pediatrician brought him over to me to do skin-to-skin right away. And, not only that, he nursed right away too – while the doctors were still sewing me up. It was so much more peaceful, so much more settling to have him there with me than to have him leave with Sam while I stayed in the room alone as we had done in the past.

And, of course, I was in awe of him from the moment I met him.

In many ways, we still are. He’s SUCH a chill baby (unless he has to have his diaper changed in the middle of the night, then he can get worked up). But, he’ll just snooze next to me while the chaos of an older brother and sister and household noise goes on around him. He sleeps in the car. He’s been sleeping 3 hour stretches at night. He actually likes to be swaddled at night…which both of our other kids have fought and wiggled out of. He smiles as he’s falling asleep or waking up. And he just stares at his siblings with these bright, wide open eyes when he’s awake. He couldn’t be any more easy going. And he’s just so incredibly cute.

We’re completely smitten.

And feeling maybe a smidgen overwhelmed but also so very, very blessed as we settle into life as a family of 5.

Clara has been obsessed with him since the moment she met him at the hospital. She told me yesterday that “Lawrence is the best, most cutest baby I ever wanted.” And, I quite agree. 🙂

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I did a mini newborn photoshoot with him the other day – those pictures and the reason behind his name will be in part II, coming soon!!

September 2016 Rocket Launch

I knew going into this last unit for kindergarten, which focused on the sun and moon and all things space-related, that Sam just HAD to do a rocket launch with the kids. I mean, when that was daddy’s hobby in high school, why just make a rocket out of a card board box when you can build and launch the real thing? (It didn’t take a lot convincing for Sam to order a kit and some motors either).

So, last week, as we wrapped up our lessons, the kids got to help daddy put it all together in the evenings. To say they were excited is an understatement.

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The kids took a trip with us to the store for paint and decided on bright red, and the night before the launch they got to help put on the stickers and assemble the stand. They wanted their friend, James, from next door to come see the launch – so on Friday we all headed to a local park to set it off!

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What a crew! 🙂

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We had three separate motors, so each of the kids got a chance to push the trigger and then go running off to chase it down as it parachuted back. Oliver is already hooked, and keeps asking where we can get more motors and if we can launch a BIGGER one next time. Haha.

And it made for a welcome distraction as we count the days until our little one arrives!

To My 3: As We Approach D-day (delivery day)

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Oliver. You were our firstborn. The one who made me a mom. The one who broke all of the predictions and estimates and arrived, in dramatic fashion – after a 30 hour labor and ultimate c-section – at just shy of 11 lbs. “He’s huge!” were literally the first words our doctor said as you sucked in your first breath. And I thought you were perfect. From my first glimpse of you, tucked in your daddy’s arms, a perplexed sort of look on your face as you stared around you, blinking up at me, I knew a love so strong it overwhelmed me. I’ve loved watching you grow, well on your own growth curve as the pediatrician informed me at every appointment. From those early nursing days (when you’d eat more than I thought ANY baby could possibly pack away and STILL act hungry), to the butterball roll-and-scootch across the floor stage, to when you learned to pull up and climb and started to get into every. LAST. THING. And now? Don’t even get me started on how big you are now! Just looking at your “first day of kindergarten” pictures makes me teary. More than just your size, though, I’ve loved watching you take in the world around you. I’ve loved being there for so many of your firsts: Your first trip to the zoo. Your first steps. Your first time chewing bubble gum. Your first time going down a slide. And I’ve loved watching you learn. Seeing your pride as you “got” your colors and shapes. Your excitement over ANYTHING with numbers, your eagerness to learn your letters, and your pretend “cursive” that I find scribbled all over daddy’s dry erase board. I’ve loved seeing your faith grow; from the little boy who asked Jesus into his life at the dinner table and then immediately declared: “Amen! Can I have another pickle?” to the faith-filled almost-5 year old who explains matter-of-factly to the grocery store clerk that it’s raining because you prayed for rain, and God is helping the farmer’s food grow because you asked Him to. The boy who quickly rushes to pray for people who are sick or hurt. When we drove away from the hospital with you almost 5 years ago, I didn’t know what we had gotten ourselves into. I felt so overwhelmed by the fact that you were OURS. And, in some ways, I still am. I’m still amazed that God entrusted you to us – and I cannot imagine life without my garbage-truck loving, inquisitive, oh-so-smart little boy. And I love you to the moon and back again.

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Clara. Oh how I prayed for you. How many nights I spent lying awake, praying over you even as I felt you kicking inside of me. Praying that titres would stay low and you would be safe. Praying that we wouldn’t need drastic interventions. And I remember staring into your beautiful blue eyes, taking in every tiny detail – your perfect little toes, your tiny lips. . . And letting the tears drop onto my hospital gown as I, in awe of you, thanked God for his faithfulness. For his protection on your little life. As our second, I wondered what you would be like – would you be a pretty, girly version of your brother? But, from the moment you were born, you made it clear that you were very, very different people. For as much as your brother loved his space (and his sleep), you would have snuggled ALL. NIGHT. LONG. You didn’t sleep through the night for well over a year. And, once you did, you still woke up asking for “snug-o’s” with mommy. You, with your little ringlet curls that you push out of your eyes and refuse to let me clip or brush because they’re “SOOOO pretty,” who will also go splashing through the muddiest puddle, giggling and squealing in delight. You, who begs for toe polish and makeup, and will also throw on mix-matched clothing, tackle your brother to the ground, whoop and holler and get knocked over and come back up swinging. You’re a bundle of energy, a snuggly little spitfire with a huge personality packed in someone so dainty and petite. And, I never, ever know what you’re going to say next. Where your brother asks a million questions, you make up the answers on your own and spout them off as truth – usually with facial expressions to make everyone in the room laugh out loud. You’re an absolute joy, Clara Jane. I love watching the mothering, nurturing part of you that wants to help all the babies living around us reach their toys or take their tentative steps. The part of you that empathizes so strongly with those that are hurt or sad or left out. That will give up your own toy when there aren’t enough to go around. Who wants to give (and get) bandaids for every bump and scrape. You’re sugar and spice, sweet and spunky, giggly and girly and fierce all mixed in one and I adore you.

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And, to our son who is still on his way. . . Oh, how I long to meet you. To see you. To hold you in my arms instead of just feeling your constant kicking and rolling inside of me. To get to know YOUR personality, because I can bet it’s totally different too. We have just 4 weeks left until you’re on the OUTside, and I’m finding myself antsy to move things along. Get this show on the road. And it’s not just the constant heartburn and the fact that I miss coffee or being able to eat a full meal, or tie my own shoes. . . Though all of those things are true. I’ve spent sleepless nights sitting in your nursery, folding tiny little socks that your now huge brother used to wear, astonished anew that there’s another member of our family on his way. And, we’re just about ready for you. Your room is set up (mostly), your clothes and toys are all freshly washed and put away. I purchased a baby carrier in case you’re a snuggler and that’s the only way we’re able to get home school done. We have a swing and blankets and burp cloths in case you spit up a lot like your brother did. We don’t have diapers yet, but, I mean, we can pick those up on the way home from the hospital if we have to, really. I’m finding myself less overwhelmed by the idea of being responsible for another life this time around – and more so just filled with anticipation. Since the moment we knew you were on your way, our family of four has felt incomplete in a way. Like there was instantly someone missing at the dinner table. And though your kicks remind me that you’re here. . . I can’t wait for you to be in my arms. To show you to your big brother and sister. They’re going to adore you. They may feel a little jealous of you at first – when mommy’s attention gets split three ways instead of just two, but don’t you worry. You’ll love them. And they’ll love you. And I know you’ll be jumping right in on their wrestling pile with daddy before I hardly have a chance to blink. And while we eagerly await your arrival, I want you to know, God did a miracle for you. Those antigens that I had to be tested for regularly with Clara? The ones they told me would never go away? They don’t exist in my blood. Not even in trace amounts. They cannot affect you because they ARE. NOT. THERE. And so on days when you feel like the smallest of the bunch, if you ever feel insignificant, remember that the God of the universe protected you and sheltered you before you were even born. You are so incredibly loved. And we can’t wait to know you. To see your “firsts.” To watch you grow. To add another car seat to our car and another chair at our table. You’re a part of us – and we can’t wait for you to arrive.

Clara Turns 3

Clara’s actual birthday isn’t for another week or so, but my parents and sister were in town to celebrate my Grandpa Silver’s 90th birthday, so we celebrated this past weekend while everyone was here.

She wanted a Hello Kitty cake, but she never actually EATS cake, just licks the frosting off, so I decided to make her an icecream cake.

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Sam and I have been working for WEEKS on a special project for Clara for her birthday. I had wanted to get her an all-wood dollhouse since there was one at our local library that she LOVED to play with but they rotate their toys and she’s been asking the librarian when it will come back for months now. But when I started looking at them online, boy were they pricey! And, a lot were the wrong size (I didn’t want a barbie dollhouse) or the wrong style (I didn’t want something Victorian looking).

So, like the crazy people that we are, we opted to make one. I mean, how hard can it be – right?

Weeks. We’re talking weeks of planning, designing, cutting, gluing, nailing, sanding, and then modge-podge wallpapering, burning our fingers on little wooden shingles and hot glue, and then painting, oiling, finishing. . .

Lets just say it was more work than we had anticipated. EVERY nap time, evening after Clara went to bed, and even some Saturday or Sunday afternoons were spent working on it. If we hadn’t spent close to $50 on just materials (wood/paint/nails, etc), we might have scrapped the idea halfway through.

But we plodded on, and I’m SO glad we did! Seriously, SO glad. And her little giggle when she opened it at her party? Worth every minute. She’s done little else since she opened it yesterday – so far the rooms have all been re-arranged, the dolls have had a fire drill, the bunny has learned to use the potty… Haha. She’s enamored with it, and we’re pretty darn proud of it.

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A lot of our extended family helped fill it up, Aunts and Uncles and Grandmas and Grandpas purchased furniture for the rooms and the doll/pet sets – which filled it way more than we could have afforded to on our own.

Kids room:

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Nursery:

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Master Bedroom

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Bathroom:

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Kitchen:

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Living Room:

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Playground:

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And, how Clara feels about it:

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Eventually I’d like to maybe make different blankets, and put some pictures or windows on the walls – but just getting this finished in time was enough for now! Maybe one of these days I’ll get extra inspired to add some more teeny details. But for now, she loves it and I’m absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

Happy Birthday to our fun-loving, 100% girly but still 100% rough-and-tumble tough little fireball of a three year old!

Mother’s Day Photos (in June). . .

Sometimes, Mother’s Day is celebrated with flowers and candy and homemade cards and breakfast in bed. Other times, it’s not really celebrated at all as your kids are too young to even know the holiday exists and your husband is in the midst of preliminary exams which will determine whether or not he’s an official PhD candidate and there’s like, a teensy-eensy bit of stress in your lives.

But, we crawled out of the black hole that was the month of May, celebrated missed events – including our anniversary – and determined to still take our annual Mother’s Day photos (in which I set everything up, pass the camera to Sam, and he takes pictures with ME in them instead of being the one behind the camera!).

And I’m totally obsessed with them. Oh, they don’t show everything that there is to show about being a mom. They don’t show the piles of laundry we left on our couch that day or the pb&j we ate for lunch because I didn’t have anything else when we got back home. They don’t show the fact that the day before, I had such an excruciatingly difficult day as a mom that when Sam walked in the door I walked right out – on the verge of tears – and power-walked off my frustration over my 4 and 2 year old apparently knowing WAY better than I did ALL. DAY. LONG.

But, I know that pictures like these are the memories I’ll hold onto for years to come. When the laundry and the frustrations and the potty accidents and the messes and the bazillion questions fade into the background and I’m left wondering what on earth happened to my babies and why they grew up so fast. At least, that’s what old ladies at the grocery store are always telling me as I say “no” to every single candy bar in the check-out aisle and attempt to maneuver my belly around my shopping cart to pay the cashier. . . (wait, that’s you too, right?)

Really, though, moms: get IN pictures with your kids. Don’t wait until you aren’t largely pregnant, or until you’re back at some idealized before-babies body shape. Ignore their skinned knees, grubby fingernails, and not-quite-even haircut. Ignore the bags under your eyes and the way your clothes seem to slouch in funny ways after being tugged and pulled on by little hands. Give yourself a way to remember these days (even in their imperfection). Give them a way to remember these days. Just get IN pictures. Seriously. (And, if you need someone to help you with that – I just *might* know someone…! haha).

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26 week baby bump

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And, I had to get some for Sam too while we were at it.

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Sam, thank you again for being game to do these each year. You did a fabulous job with these, and I love them SO much!