31 March 2012

Of Running Away

A couple of days ago, Micaiah pulled out one of the Zhu Zhu pets she and Emmett had received for Christmas - of which they have been terrified when actually in motion - and pushed the button to make him go.  Then, she promptly encouraged Emmett to, "Run away!  Run away!"  Instantly calling to mind images of Monty Python in his search for the Holy Grail.  

Since that day, they played this game multiple times.  With each instance, the little brown faux-rodent scurries about electronically while my children run squealing around the house.  

But what's even better are the times when no one has pushed Cappuccino's button, but my son still suddenly hops to his feet, crying, "Run away!  Run away!" in his adorable little not-quite-two-year-old voice and sets off sprinting to and fro, making circles around the couches and all-around having a great time.  All by himself.

He did this again this evening when we headed outside for a little spring-evening fun.  There he was, dashing through the grass, giving his warning cry for all to hear.  I adore that boy.

Running away.
1,000 Gifts:
178. "Run away!"
179. A clean boy, wrapped in his blue towel, wanting to be carried to his bedroom.
180. Precious time scratching the garage sale itch with a good friend.

Taking Time for Play: In the Air
I'm a sucker for the startle reflex and I love how it makes it look like he's flying as Daddy tosses him up.

Other photos of our backyard adventure:

Emmett's turn to fly, only he was not letting go of Daddy's hands for anything.

Just hanging out - this is about the extent of his outdoor fun - well, this and the flying.

Love this beautiful girl!

Just in case you couldn't visualize my description the other day, this is dear Joseph enjoying his bouncy seat.

Blowing dandelions - she's so grown up!

30 March 2012

Of New Growth

I wish I knew how to describe it, but since the realization of Wednesday - the fact that God not only loves me, He likes me; He sacrificed for me, not because He thought I would one day get it all right (because I won't), but because I am His creation - I have felt a change deep within.

Not a change I have forced, as I've attempted to do in the past, but a natural result of realizing Whose I am - really realizing it, allowing my head knowledge to be planted, finally, in the fertile soil of my heart - my once-fallow ground.

I have always had a problem with being judgmental and somewhat prideful.  Though I have tried very hard in the past to reign those thoughts in, when my guard was down they would pour out.  My husband and those closest to me have seen a whole lot of ugly planted in my heart - for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.  My fallow ground had become very weed-ridden.

I was trying to take every thought captive, so as to catch my problem at the root, in the mind.  But these efforts were all my own.  Only God has the true power to actually uproot the weeds, rather than just pulling at the stems.

In the past couple of days I have noticed these negative thoughts and attitudes I have tried so hard to squelch in the past by my own efforts have simply dissolved.  Not by any effort of my own, they're gone.  Not by my power, but that of Christ alone.  The power I have denied in the past by not allowing myself to truly depend on Him.

How beautiful to live a life fully given over to God.  Someday I'll be there, but for now we're working on it.

1,000 Gifts: 
175. A friendship which had fallen by the wayside with time, but picked up, dusted off and treasured once more.
176. Sleeping when the baby is sleeping; or making him sleep when I'm sleeping.
177. Storming and tickling after nap-time.

Taking Time for Play: Silly Outfit 
Recycling photos from yesterday, I love Micaiah's choice in clothes.  Hearts and Leopard Spots, she's all about mixing patterns - so trendy already.

29 March 2012

Of Developing

Our newest little man is growing up so quickly.

As you may recall, he spent his last night in our bedroom the night before last.  For those of you who may not be so skilled with logic, that means last night was his first night sleeping in his "big boy bed" (the term is, of course, relative here) in his very own room.  All alone.  For the first time.  Okay, so it may have been harder on me than it was on him.

While I was prepared for an evening of crying it out and trying not to burst in the room to rescue him from his loneliness in the dark, he simply settled his little eyes shut and went to sleep.  Without a paci.  And without a peep.  Who gave him the right to grow up so quickly?

Other evidences that he's not our little newborn anymore include the fact that he has recently come to rather enjoy sitting in his bouncer, kicking the plastic fish and seahorse which cause the music to play and the bubbles to float about in the enclosed arc over his feet.  In fact, he actually watches the bubbles and the fish as they move about.

Finally, he loves to stand.  After a little boy who never took much interest in using his legs until he was nearly a year and a half old, having this tiny guy put all of his weight on his pudgy legs is quite exciting.  With us simply keeping him balanced, he'll just stand in our laps, or on the bed, or wherever, to his little heart's content.  Perhaps we finally have a fast-developer on our hands?

I'm already weighing the pros and cons of having three mobile little ones.

1,000 Gifts:
169. Bags and boxes filled with the gift of his provision to cover our children.
170. He will never leave me.
171. His love endures forever.
172. Muddy shoes leaving footprints on the patio.
173. Wet hair after a mid-day bath.
174. Empty space in the closet.

 Taking Time for Play: Love
See how much he's filled out?

We went outside to play today.  Micaiah picked out both of their outfits.  I think she did better on Emmett's.

I have no idea what they were looking at - and it wasn't even the same thing, apparently.

28 March 2012

Of My Fallow Ground

"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you." - Hosea 10:12

Breaking up my fallow ground.  This is what God is definitely doing in my heart right now.  In the middle of Bible Study this morning, I reigned in the tears more than once as I realized God was messing with things.  Things I had let settle for years, decades, really.  This ground had become so solid, so tread upon that it was just home for me.  And suddenly, in an hour and a half, everything was breaking loose and weeds, long-since accepted as commonplace, were being uprooted.

For so long, I have struggled with the insecurity that said I wasn't good enough, wasn't worth the investment as a friend, one to be trusted, called upon or enjoyed.  Then, as I looked at the relationships which surround me, women pouring into other women, relying on them during the rough times and laughing with them during the good ones, I realized it wasn't them shutting me out.  It was me.

Independence has been a blessing when I feel called to follow the Lord in unconventional ways.  I have rarely found myself as the one who seeks approval from others in my convictions.  I follow what I know to be true, what God has called me to do.  And that's good, I think.

But my independence runs deep.  Very, very deep.  While I have learned to let others care for me in physical ways, providing for what I lack or meeting my needs when I am unable, I have kept the door very tightly sealed when it comes to my emotional needs.  I am very uncomfortable at the idea of relying emotionally on anyone.  And it took me a long time to realize this fact.

Unfortunately, while admitting you have a problem may be the first step, it is not the only step.  While I recognized my inability to depend on others, even while crying out to be allowed to do so, I did not know how to fix it.

Though I had spent nights literally crying myself to sleep, begging God to send me one genuine friend - the kind I could call in the middle of the night with an urgent need, or when I have the best news and need to share it - the kind I had seen all around me but to whom I had not allowed myself to open up, I became like those in Hosea's time, of whom it was said, "And they do not cry to me from their hearts when they wail on their beds" (Hosea 7:14).

Because this was the real root of my problem, the root God dug up today and shoved right in my face, it wasn't just people I had been shutting out, allowing to meet my physical needs, but not my emotional ones, it was God Himself.

While I deeply believe He will always provide for our needs - income, a house, furniture, food, bills - and I am absolutely willing to follow wherever He leads, I had not trusted, truly trusted, Him to be my all in all.  To take all of me, every emotion, every up, every down, and love me.  I constantly feel as though He is disappointed in me, for some failure to do something just right.  I'm not watching the right thing on TV (or turning it off altogether), I'm not serving food to the homeless, I'm not seeking out the poor or speaking to the lost; I'm not furthering His kingdom; I'm too lazy, too selfish, too proud.  I'm too human.  He may love me, I supposed, but He doesn't really like me.  How could He?  How could anyone?

And there it was.  My fallow ground.  All broken up.

I wish I could tell you my rosy ending, but I just can't yet.  Because this is where God and I are, just finishing the pulling up of the weeds, preparing the soil of my heart for fresh seeds of Truth, the sowing of righteousness and his redemptive rains, the ones He has promised to those who seek Him.

1,000 Gifts:
163. Our lives, entwined with those around us.
164. The roots of this tree which has grown so much in the past five years.
165. Gratitude and Joy, walking hand-in-hand
166. The Word of God - proof of His unfailing faithfulness
167. Knowing we have trained two other babies to sleep on their own; we can do it again.
168. A husband who knows me deeper than anyone and continues to love.

Taking Time for Play: Beauty
There is a definite beauty in Truth

The song which has been playing in my heart today:

27 March 2012

Of Taking Care of Each Other

I had one of those moments this afternoon - those moments that are sure to increase with our family size.  The moment when, harried by the fact that Sesame Street was just a little too loud and Micaiah wanted me to notice Big Bird and Emmett wanted help getting on the couch with his blanket and pillow and Joey was crying because he was both tired and hungry and I was trying to get folded clothes put away so Emmett could actually sit on the couch, I thought to myself out of pure exasperation, "We have too many kids!"

I do love each of them so much but there are just moments when everyone wants a piece of you and you have nothing left to give.

And then I noticed Joey was no longer crying.  And when I noticed this, I also noticed his sister, bent over her baby brother, eyes gazing into his, stroking his head calmly, encouraging him to take the paci she offered, which he had and was now sucking quietly.  Meanwhile, Emmett was no longer following me with his blanket in one hand, but, instead, he stood by the couch, waiting patiently, finally realizing I would help him when I was able.

Within minutes, the clothes were put away, Emmett was happily snuggled on the couch, while Micaiah curled up on the floor with her own blanket, both watching Bert and Ernie while Joey dozed peacefully on the loveseat.

I'm thinking we're gonna be alright - even if this herd keeps growing.

1,000 Gifts: 
157. Success in homemade chicken stock - finally!
158. A year and a half with no cavities - trust me, that's big.
159. Lost time with the kids made up for in a game of Memory.
160. A dresser makes for a learning experience in decision-making.
161. Wilted vegetables and ugly chicken bones making one delicious broth.
162. A house still not cleaned in favor of hide-and-seek and playing with dolls.

Taking Time for Play: Pattern  
This pack n' play has seen three babies now.
"What?!  It's my last night in Mommy & Daddy's room?!  Where are you going to send me?!"

26 March 2012

Of Our Favorite Book

In case you've been wondering, we haven't been doing so hot on the schedule front.  I attribute this partly to the fact that I have not been getting out of bed when I presumed I would and I did not account for Joey's feeding times - I knew they would happen and I would have to work around them, but, in general, I overbudgeted my time.

Despite this inability to stick to the plan, I still consider my experiment a success because, through my overachieving efforts we have, at the very least, established one habit that I am so happy to have finally incorporated into our lives: family devotions.  Or, at least, "Mommy and Me" devotions, as the Bible reading occurs at the breakfast table while Daddy is out earning us some proverbial bacon.

Though for now we've primarily stuck to the stories Micaiah seems to have had drilled into her at Sunday School, it still makes me so happy to hear her recite Matthew 5:44 - her first Bible verse, tied in with the story of Zaccheus in their Beginning Readers' Bible - over Frosted Flakes and scrambled eggs.  And, because of this, we have a verse to pull out when another kid pushes her at church, even if it's slightly out of context.

This is where we had struggled in the past - working faith-teaching into daily living with toddlers.  I know it comes so naturally to others, but this is a new area for us, the practice of talking out our beliefs, rather than just hoping they catch on.  So this habit of discussing Noah while we nosh on bananas, to me, makes the entire "schedule" concept a success - even if I'm still spending a little too much time on the couch the other hours of the day.  Hey, it's a process.

1,000 Gifts:
151. The startle reflex.
152. These nights of a slumbering infant snuggled in my arm.
153. Evening hours that flee too quickly.
154. A tiny boy appearing from nowhere, standing next to me in the bathroom mirror.
155. His parroting everything she says.
156. This new little one looking so much like she did when she was his age.  It goes so fast.

Taking Time for Play: Favorite Book

25 March 2012

Of Toddler Theology (and a Photo Memoir)

On the way to church this morning, this was Micaiah's narrative:

"Jesus protected me from the scary dark.  And the angel come and the angel tell Jesus, 'We will be friends and we will protect 'Caiah.' And I have a dream about the angel and Jesus and God, but I can't see the angel and Jesus and God."

Theology from a three-year-old.  Never ceases to amaze me.

And as I promised pictures from yesterday, here are just a few:

I love this sleep pose all babies seem to have.  Just so relaxed, surrendering to sleep.

Dinner: Chilled Strawberry Soup and Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies (which I found in a magazine and can't find on-line, or I'd include the link, but they were pretty good, with oatmeal, applesauce, carrots and raisins they feel semi-healthy - which the cream cheese does a decent job of counteracting).

Micaiah's head o' curls post-bath.  I LOVE them.

 Pre-rolling-over, this was Joey holding his head up high.  Such a big boy!

1,000 Gifts:
145. Micaiah's sweet voice singing a variety of children's songs at the breakfast table.
146. The Word of God in my language.
147. A banner for every season.
148. "Holey" jeans, well-worn.
149. Pink-studded sandals on tiny feet.
150. A library full of hand-me-down books gathered to bless others.

Taking Time for Play: Teal
I was at a loss until I noticed this shelf on my entertainment center just before posting here.  It's one that was originally designed around the teal theme of some of my found objects but has now lost much of it's teal-ness, except for these two last remnants.

24 March 2012

Of My Life as a Single Mom

As my man has left me for the day to go gallivanting around the fine metropolis that is Tulsa, commandeering my computer while he is away, I am left to fend for myself leaving you a photo-less play-by-play of the day (save the two images snapped on my phone and sent to Facebook - as I've found e-mailing to be the most inefficient means to sharing those pictures - well, unless four days is considered efficient) - but, just now, I'm posting and then, tomorrow, you'll get a re-cap via photograph.  Isn't that exciting for you?  Living my ordinary day twice in a row?

So, here it is . . . My Day as a Single Mom

8:30am: I wake up to Emmett crying.  Not through the monitor, because I had kind of turned that down about a half hour ago.  I wait for him to stop - sometimes Micaiah isn't so nice when they're playing alone in their room and she causes him to fuss before he quickly gets over it.  He is not quickly getting over it this time.  So, I enter the room to find Emmett distressed because he "Bump"ed - meaning he fell - off of his sister's dresser - the same one he gets a spanking for playing on every day.  I explain, this is why we don't get on the dresser.  To his way-too-tired-because-he-woke-up-too-early-before-climbing-on-the-dresser toddler mind, this teachable moment was entirely lost.  Then I put a Toy Story VHS into the mini-TV/VCR in the corner of their room, the one that has only been used in this house about twice, tell them to sit in Micaiah's bed and leave to go back to sleep.  Yes, I did.  Only I had been out of my room for long enough that Joey noticed (seriously, he can sleep for a couple hours when I'm next to him, but always seems to wake up within minutes of my leaving - he always just knows), so that he was no longer happy.  And after making him happy, I was no longer tired.

9:00am: I shower.

9:20am: Before rescuing the children from their Disney baby-sitter, I head to place my mug (I've mentioned it follows me everywhere) and cell phone in the living room - a daily ritual.  It is there I discover the two baskets of laundry which have been migrating around the house, unfolded, all week have been folded by my man before he left the house at an hour earlier than that at which he typically leaves for work.  (This is where I deviate from a single mom who, sadly, does not have a laundry fairy loitering about.)  I love that man.

9:40am: We're eating breakfast to the tune of Toy Story, which is now playing in the living room because I just can't make them walk away from Buzz.  I then decide we will venture out for errands.  With all three kids.  By myself.  Only, I plan to cheat - there's no way I'm actually getting all of them out of the car.  We're doing quick, in-and-out stops wherein I never let the car out of my sight.  I'm plugging in a DVD, keeping the key in the ignition and the remote lock in my pocket.  Yes, I am.

10:30am: We're finally out the door and I'm praying that youngest just keeps on sleeping and doesn't realize he didn't get to eat before we left.  And if he does, I'll just explain to him it's his fault.  He's the one who chose to not wake up when I tried to fill his belly.  He'll understand, I'm sure.

10:40am: Seriously?  I'm parked in the bank drive-thru and my car won't start?  Who would I even call?  My husband is in Tulsa.  My sister-in-law is in Kansas City.  I have three kids in my car.  And I'm in the bank drive-thru.  What the heck?  Fortunately it took me only a full panickie minute of turning the key back and forth and realizing it won't even leave the ignition, to discover I'd failed to put the car in park before turning off the ignition (something I always do at the bank, after reading an article in Reader's Digest about conserving gas - I don't know if it works, I just do it - because Reader's Digest said so).

11:30am: We made it.  The kids were totally tuned out to "The Emperor's New Groove" the entire time - except for Joey, who did succeed in sleeping for the duration of the hour-long trip.  Faux-outing with the kids = success!

11:45am: So glad we didn't stay home if this epic melt-down from the aforementioned too-tired Emmett is really what I would have faced at home.  Grateful for the hour of zoning out in the car instead of screaming about every minute incident at home.  Yes, I am.

12:45pm: After feeding Littlest, the rest of us have lunch and Emmett is finally not screaming again.  But that could have something to do with The Care Bears.  At the end of this movie, when we're all encouraged to declare our caring to save the innocent camper, I tell Micaiah, "I care.  Do you care?"  To which she matter-of-factly responds, "No."  Alright then.

1:55pm: They're all napping!  Okay, they're all laying down.  Okay, one is laying down, the other two are in their room.  Does that count?

2:15pm: Emmett is out like a light and because I need him to get his full amount of rest if I'm to survive the evening, I send Micaiah to my bed where there are no distractions (ie, toys) and, if she still chooses to not slumber she will at least not wake her brothers.

4:30pm: Emmett is still out - the legs dangling out of his bed while his upper half sprawls across the width of the mattress definitely indicate that.  Checking on Micaiah, however, one wonders if she's really been trying to get Daddy's Nintendo DS to work for all of the past two hours, or if she's recently awoken and just now begun to entertain herself.  I'm choosing to believe the latter.

5:10pm: I love watching Micaiah play by herself.  She really is awfully sweet as she pretends her purple-plastic-beaded necklace is a snake crawling over Mommy and Joey.  Really wondering at which point I should wake my eldest son.

5:40pm: Oh, look on the monitor!  Emmett is stirring!  I wait to send in Micaiah, though, so he can get his bearings before being ambushed - no one is nice when they first wake up and, again, we don't want a cranky Emmett.

6:30pm: Well, dinner was a success with one of them at least.  I totally pulled out the girlie food: Chilled Strawberry Soup and Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches (yes, they were a main dish, don't judge me - the magazine said it could even be served for breakfast - and I believe it, because the magazine said so).  Not gonna lie, it's what was on the menu even before I knew Philip would be gone for the day, but he's not sad to be missing it.  Micaiah wouldn't have been, either.  Unfortunately, she's here and she just needs to deal with the fact that yes, it's soup and yes, it's cold.  It's supposed to be that way, now eat it.

6:45pm: Getting the bath started because, even when he loves the food, it gets everywhere, especially if it involves soup and/or cream cheese (or both, in one meal).  Strawberry Soup in the hair is not quite the fashion accessory we go for in this house.  I'd hoped to avoid this process for the evening because Philip has been doing the baths for the elders lately and, well, I kind of like it that way.

7:15pm: Letting Emmett pick the next movie for the day because it's about time.  He, apparently, is tired of Disney, too, as he opts for "Robots" and they both snuggle with their blankets on separate couches - and I figure we'll stay up a little late tonight because, well, we can.

7:45pm: Joey's getting a little tummytime on the floor, because he's totally tired of hanging out on his back.  Or, at least I thought so.  Did he just roll over?  Had to have been a fluke.  He's done that on the sofa a time or two, but I always attributed it to gravity taking over on the slanted cushion.  Wait.  Did he just roll over again?  Seriously? I know my other kids were late bloomers, but I swear six weeks is too early for this.

7:50pm: Noticing how gorgeous Micaiah's post-bath curls are, I decide to document this for the future.  She asks if she can make a silly face while I take her picture.  Then she pulls out the "Hot Dog Face."  I didn't even know she had such control over her tongue already.

8:15pm: I try to explain to Micaiah that if they're not even watching it, it doesn't really matter if I told them they'd go to bed when the movie was over.  And, yet, the movie stays on - and they keep running around yelling to each other, "Tag, you're it!"  I get concerned when Joey is pronounced "It" - will they really keep running until he can catch them in about a year?

8:45pm: They're in bed (the older ones, anyway - Tiny Man is still crying, we'll deal with that soon) - I survived!

9:00pm: Why are they still talking?  Why are they always still talking?  Wait, I know it's dark here in their roombut I'm pretty sure there is no little boy under that blanket.  And he's not in her bed, like he normally is when there's trouble.  "Emmett?"  With a swoosh of the curtain, there he is, on the dresser.  Again.


1,000 Gifts:
139. A man who takes care of the house when I don't.
140. Technology to entertain the kids on a morning of errands.
141. Adventurous spirits.
142. Emmett's words are getting clearer.  Today I heard, "Tag, you're it" as well as "time-out."
143. After rinsing her hair, "Now I'm good as new!"
144. Commands that are sometimes ignored but sometimes followed.

Taking Time for Play: Home
Finally, a picture of those much talked-of clothes, scattered across the living room, but folded - that's the important part.

23 March 2012

Of Telling the Truth

For those who have followed the potty training saga, you know it has been a struggle.  However, for the past few months, Micaiah has been doing great.  She still wears a diaper/training pants at nap-time and bed-time, but we're happy with where we're at for the present.  When she's ready to potty, she pulls her little white step-stool up to the toilet, pulls her potty seat from its hook and sets it in place, then climbs up and takes care of business.

It can be a struggle, though, when it's time for bed and she is hesitant to go to sleep.  One way in which she rebels is to drag her feet in going potty.  She'll go in the bathroom and hide behind the door, or (if she doesn't want to be spanked for that) she'll simply move as slow as humanly possible in putting everything in place.  It's a habit we've been trying to break.

Thus, this afternoon, when it was time for a nap, it was no surprise to me when she refused to go potty.  I once again commanded her before I went a separate direction to get something else done.  When I returned, I noted the light on the in the bathroom, but no stool in front of the toilet, or even in the room, and the potty seat was still on its hook, though I had never heard her move it to or from.  This girl was going to be in T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

"Micaiah!" I yelled calmly stated, "Why aren't you on the potty?!"
"Because I already make water." [that's her self-created euphemism]
"Are you lying to me?" I asked angrily as I went to retrieve the stool from the kitchen (a task I would normally assign to her, but this getting-ready-for-bed thing was taking too long already), surprised she would lie about using the potty - she has lied about other things, but we can always count on the truth in this matter.
"Then how did you go potty without a stool?" I asked, smugly, holding up the white object that was so clearly catching her in her deception.
Innocently, she shrugged, "I just climbed up."
I noticed, then, that she was wearing underwear, but no pants.  She typically only takes off the pants after going potty.  Could she really be telling the truth?
"Show me." I demanded.
Sure enough, there goes my little three-year-old, into the bathroom as she pulls down her underpants and lifts herself to the seat - no stool, no potty seat, just her and the toilet, like a big girl.

When did this happen?!  Oh my word, she's growing up!

1,000 Gifts:
133. A long-distance relationship with my sister, kept alive via Google chat.
134. Our wonderful neighbor who isn't afraid to try new recipes - we're always willing guinea pigs.
135. A gracious heart learning to trust in the Lord for her needs.
136. A small green tin, adorned with images of Santa Claus, filled with plastic jewels to help our little girl celebrate the tv's "pretend birthday."
137. A glass cake platter topped with delicious Coca-Cola Carrot Cupcakes.
138. A new way to use an old shelf.

Taking Time for Play: Toys
When Micaiah saw this shelf this morning - one I had pulled from Joey's closet and put out for a new purpose - filled with toys, she exclaimed, "Can I play with them?!"

22 March 2012

Of R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I absolutely love the Amplified Bible.  It has a way of breaking down and delving into the meanings of the words, putting all of it right there together in the verse, giving much more depth to what one is reading.  It can be a bit wordy and difficult to follow because of all the supposed bunny trails, but if you're wanting an in-depth look into one small chunk, I would recommend checking out the verses, first, in your preferred translation and, second, in the Amplified (and, third, in The Message, to give an even further dimension).

My women's Bible study at church has been focusing on contentment and this week's challenge is finding contentment in our relationships.  As far as our relationship with our husband, this contentment is clearly to be found in understanding our role as a wife and learning to do that well.

A key verse for this kind of study is typically Ephesians 5:33, "However let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."  There is really so much to be understood from that one small verse, but today, in reading the Amplified version, I found so much more meat, a blueprint, really, for how to love my husband fully.

"However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self, and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]." (Ephesians 5:33 AMP, emphasis added)

Wow!  So much meaning hidden in that tiny command to respect and reverence our husbands (which, let's be honest, can be a challenge in and of itself).  Respect can sometimes be a vague concept and this breakdown provided by the Amplified Bible really puts walking shoes on how we are to live it out.

Sometimes we may defer to our husband and consider that alone as respecting him, but in my deference, am I praising his decisions and making certain he knows I love him and admire him exceedingly?  Or other times I lean more toward being sure he knows I love him deeply, but not trusting him to lead.  Respect is such a dynamic concept and we need to be sure we are living this command fully.

I know these words have challenged me today to love my husband in the way he deserves, as ordained by God himself.

1,000 Gifts:
127. Full instructions on how to love my husband completely.
128. My daughter reciting her first memory verse.
139. Breakfast devotions with an engaged three-year-old (and a little boy who wants to be involved, even if he doesn't understand).
130. Remembering my real "job" is being a mother - and that might mean playing a game and learning not to let it bother me when she doesn't understand the rules.
131. Experimenting with foreign foods from old memories.
132. Finally cleaning out a closet that was well overdue.

Taking Time for Play: Relaxation
That man I love so much enjoys watching Godzilla cartoons on Netflix with all three of his little ones.

My new recipe for the day: Borscht!  Buying the beet for this the other day brought to mind references from both "Doug" and "The Office."  "Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica!"  But it all looks so pretty getting ready to be boiled.  

And the end result was pretty good - maybe not something I'll make again (it wasn't fabulous enough for the amount of work that went into it), but I'm glad I ventured out in our meal plans.

21 March 2012

Of Letting it All Out

I've realized part of why my son's middle-of-the-night feeding habits have not at all slowed down is because I have done little to allow him the opportunity.  The slightest sound of squirming at the right time in his "schedule" finds me hurrying to lift him from his resting place to eat, for fear he might soon cry.  Why I fear the crying, I'm not so sure, considering my husband might possibly sleep through a freight train running through our living room and our older children are also rather sound sleepers (or at least are very skilled at dropping back to sleep almost instantaneously).  So, why I worry Little Guy might let out a wail, I'm not so sure.

I've realized, though, the lengthier periods between feedings during the day come when he is allowed to cry for a minute or two (I'm a mother of three, seriously, my daytime hours are not spent waiting to halt the possible fussiness of this newest one, rather praying he'll hold out just a little longer while I finish preparing dinner or changing diapers or whatever other tasks come up) before nodding back off to sleep.

Thus, I had recently decided to employ this trick (you know, the one I don't hesitate to do when they're all the way in the other room, but somehow fail at when they're right next to me) at night before rushing to feed him or even just pulling him into bed so he'll go right back to sleep.  I didn't necessarily plan on running around being busy while he fusses (that's just silly), but waiting him out just a little - because, honestly, most times he doesn't wail.  He wakes, squirms, grunts and settles down again.  But I hadn't been patient enough to realize this fact.

This morning, then, was really the first time I truly held out when, at 5am, after laying him back to bed after feeding, he promptly began wiggling and grunting - which would typically prompt me to pick him back up, either for burping the squirmy worm or just letting him rest beside me.

I waited for a half hour as he made the most adorable sounds - sounds I'd missed previously because I'd been too afraid of the crying.  He kicked, waved his arms, cooed (so cute!), squeaked, squawked, squealed, grunted and giggled (just a little) and just all around made a jungle of wild baby noises.  And I waited, with a small part of me wishing he would settle so I could sleep, but the larger majority just grateful for these tiny noises that won't last long.

Finally, I heard something different - the distinct symphony of this little guy filling his diaper.

Almost instantaneously all other noises stopped as his eyes drifted closed and he fell asleep.

Apparently, sometimes it just takes a little work to get that junk out of your system.

1,000 Gifts:
121. Butter and oil, with a dash of salt, thrown into the stand mixer for [almost] homemade spreadable butter - absolutely delicious.
122. No-Bake Cookies melting in my mouth
123. Enchiladas - the third night in a row of uncontested dinners on the part of our three-year-old - total win.
124. Wooden cake, offered ever-so-generously.
125. The tuft of curls atop the head on the sheep of my favorite onesie.
126. Piano keys tickled by my musically-inclined daughter.

Taking Time for Play: Party Time
Micaiah had some friends over for a couple of hours today - it's always a party with good friends and a reason for dress-up!
PS, I'd like you to note the fourth participant to the party, hidden on the right side of the photo - he was a little distracted by Elmo but he totally had on his party attire, as well.

And a few further photos of today:
Clearly, his expression makes this shot.

 Tiny Man spent some time on the floor today, gazing out the window.  He literally laid here for a half hour doing nothing but kicking his legs, waving his arms and staring outside.  I think he kinda liked it.

 In case you were wondering, this is was the view he had.

And this was the view I had.

All tuckered out from his moment in the sun.

20 March 2012

Of Ups and Downs

Micaiah had two "firsts" today.  One good, one not so good.

First, Philip was wearing his awesome "Hotcakes" shirt today and in the process of changing our daughter's diaper, decided to give her a reading lesson.  Five minutes later, she ran out to me and this is what she proudly announced:

"H-O-T.  Hot!  C-A-K-E. Cake! Hotcake!"

She spelled her first word!  And she was quite pleased with herself (as she had every right to be).  And, thus, for the rest of the evening she sauntered around, spelling her words - always the exact same as she did for me.  (In fact, when Philip attempted to spell it all as one word, she quickly informed him he forgot to declare, "Hot" after spelling the first half - this girl is nothing if not particular).

Sadly, she learned the true meaning of that first half of the compound word when she received her first serious burn this evening.  She had been helping me at the stove making No-Bake Cookies and, though I had warned her endlessly not to get too close, she, apparently, while my back was turned, reached across the front of the stove, from the opposite side of the recently turned-off burner, where she'd been standing and touched her finger to the coil.

Because I did not see this action, all I heard was a scream and a cry as my daughter fell off her stool.  The poor thing was so scared she toppled!  A blister quickly formed and her daddy did much to dry her tears, but she sadly learned that even a kiss from Mommy doesn't always make the pain go away.

Now she's learned an important lesson: when Mommy and Daddy say it's hot, they mean it.

And at least now she can spell that.

1,000 Gifts:
115. Overhearing our daughter reading a book to her brother.
116. The way she can be so eager for something one minute and so scared of it the next.
117. Emmett's waddle-run.  Adorable.
118. Our daughter's eagerness to hear her "Jesus" story at breakfast.
119. Putting aside my lunch to hold a son who only wants to know we haven't forgotten him.
120. A dinner declared a winner (even by the cleanliness of Micaiah's bowl when she'd finished).

Taking Time for Play: Family
This photo was actually taken yesterday, but I forgot to share it, and since their brotherly love is the perfect fit for today's theme, we're going with it!

As the above photo wasn't actually taken today, the below is today's actual "photo of the day." As the event is a rarity, I chose to actually document the moment today wherein all pieces of Micaiah's doctor kit were actually in their allotted places.  That lasted all of about 12.2 seconds (or long enough for me to take the picture).

19 March 2012

Of Rainy Day Fun

Waking up to pounding rain and rumbling thunder, I knew today called for one thing (the one thing Micaiah was begging for all last week) - time to pull out her tent for some rainy day fun.  And it all started with breakfast:

That's right, I totally sugared them up - it was a big day for them.  But we stuck to finger foods - even Mommy ate dry Frosted Flakes and Honey Nut Cheerios (and a couple Donettes, of course).  After morning devotions, I turned on The Little Mermaid - trying to be faithful to the water theme for the day.  When I was their age, rainy days meant blankets draped over a card table and extended just far enough to include the tiny and grainy antenna-tv in the basement.  These days it's a Discovery Channel nylon tent with Disney movies on the flat-screen.  Times have changed.

And because I'm all about food making the day special, this was Micaiah's lunch (I emphasize it as Micaiah's because a) I only have one six-cup muffin tin for this fun way to serve lunch and b) Emmett isn't a fan of cheese and she's not a fan of peanut butter, so they actually eat different things for lunch):

Emmett was checking out her meal, but his wasn't too bad, either.

Lunch-time entertainment was "The Incredibles."

Overall, it was a pretty fabulous and relaxing rainy day.  As Philip put it, upon seeing the photos I e-mailed him, "They're living like rock-stars."  I'm pretty sure they'd agree.

1,000 Gifts:
109. Muffin-Tin Meals
110. Meals shared in an unconventional location.
111. Cheesy Potato Soup - the only meal with which my daughter never argues.
112. Trading cereal with my wishy-washy son.
113. Ten minutes of family time in a gas station parking lot as the rain patters the ceiling.
114. Copycat biscuits to appease the husband who is sick of the soup.

Taking Time for Play: Funny Faces
This may not have been taken today, but it is recent and it fits the theme, so we're just going to run with it.

18 March 2012

Of a Long (but Good) Weekend

Joey had quite the eventful weekend - meeting Nenaw & Papaw for the first time (they loved him, of course - who wouldn't?), his first St. Patrick's Day (he was sure to wear the obligatory green all day), and attending the Grand Opening of the Covenant Store in Tulsa (with which his daddy has been greatly involved).  Sure, he may have slept through the vast majority of these thrilling days, but he was honored just to be there.  A few photos:

He started the day right - wearing his "My First St. Patrick's Day" p.j.'s from Grandma & Grandpa.

At the Covenant Store with Daddy.

Resting with Daddy after a long day (and back in those great p.j.'s again).

Saying "Good-bye" to Nenaw - can't wait to visit again!

Papaw and his great-grandsons.

1,000 Gifts:
91. A love that hurts at the thought of loss.
92. Friends so close to my heart it hurts not to have them close.
93. Opportunities that may change our lives.
94. Rays of light peeking through the clouds.
95. All three children napping at the same time.
96. Tired toddlers giving into the late-night hour.
97. "Turning" thanks with Nenaw & Papaw.
98. Tiny green shirts ready for tiny bodies.
99. Banners, advertising favorite games, adorning the evidence of hard work and a step of faith.
100. A miniature yellow butterfly flitting from weed to weed as I do chores on the other side of the glass.
101. A little one curled up as he receives his nourishment.
102. Realizing I don't even know what condiments my husband needs for dinner - six years and still so much to learn.
103. Ketchup - the perfect dipping sauce for everything (even apples?) - to  toddler, anyway.
104. A diaper bag, overflowing with needs met and yet waiting to be met.
105. Sonic - and fresh corndogs - to end a road trip.
106. A list of produce overflowing from my fridge.
107. An unexpected card to let us know they care.
108. Recipes waiting to be tested.

#Taking Time for Play:  Sunshine:
The sun took the time to peek through the clouds on our drive to Tulsa.

Joey and I got to drive alone between Nenaw & Papaw's house in Chelsea and the store in Tulsa - an hour (nearly) alone in the car?  Of course I need some great tunes - thus this mix from my high school days - love it!

Micaiah, all decked out in pink, got to join Papaw as he did the chores.  She was reluctant to get any closer to the horse than this, but eventually came to within two feet of Frank!