30 May 2012

Of Taking Him to the Movies

As we spent our sixth anniversary on the road (stopping for a brief celebratory dinner at Red Lobster - because nothing says, "I love you," like sharing a basket of cheddar biscuits), Philip and I took yesterday as a make-up day.  

Now, we didn't plan on our day being bookended with first world problems - waking up to a missing internet signal (and waiting half the day for a repairman) and going to bed with a malfunctioning air conditioner, windows open to the sounds of rain pattering the rooftops and thunder booming loudly across the state, but it was the middle part of the day - our first day for quite some time with only one child at home - which defined our wonderful time of just being together - and having just been together for six years now.

Sandwiched between lunch at Benedict St. and dessert at Cherry Berry (our new love), we took Joey out for his first movie in the theater.  And, questions of showing such violence to a child of only three and a half months aside, that kid loved "The Hunger Games" - or maybe just the theater experience overall.  While many may fear taking such a young one to the movies for worry of his crying interfering with others' enjoyment of the show, it was our little man's laughter that caused Philip to ask, "Do I need to take him out in the hall?"  

That was our man, giggling, grinning and all-around having a great time. He loved sitting on our laps, watching the action on the screen, or facing us and hamming it up.  

I definitely never imagined I would be celebrating my sixth anniversary by trying to hush my baby's coos in the dark back row of a sparsely-occupied matinee - but I wouldn't have it any other way.

1,000 Gifts:
533. A cool breeze through an open window.
534. A lightning show in the distance.
535. A finished product.
536. Corn from the cob - a reminder of God's provision
537. A phone call away from the repairs we need.
538. An unexpected opportunity

Photo of the Day: 
A little over a month ago, I snagged an amazing deal on a furniture set a garage sale - four pieces for $40 - which means, I essentially paid $10 for Joey's new dresser (the only piece I really needed) - well, $10 plus the $6 in black paint.  Now, only three and a half months into his life, he finally a dresser to hold his teeny baby clothes.


29 May 2012

Of Making a Mess

After a whirlwind weekend of family and traveling across Nebraska, Philip and I kissed our big kids good-bye for a couple of fun-filled weeks with Gram and Grandy, tucked Joseph into his car seat and departed yesterday afternoon for our road trip home - just the three of us.

Joseph may have been a little surprised to look up to find Mommy sitting next to him in the car rather than the tickles and coos of Big Sissy, but I think he was rather happy about it.  So happy, he filled his pants.

Yes, this guy whose number of diaper blow-outs in his entire life I can probably count on one hand decided to save his juiciest little gift for the middle of Mommy and Daddy's road trip home, when ill-prepared Mommy found herself with NO wipes in the diaper bag.  Not one.  Fortunately, she knew this before toting him off to the bathroom for a change and, having used the restroom prior to discovering his messy self, she also knew this particular bathroom provided no paper towels.  In addition, this most ill-stocked of gas stations ALSO sold nothing even close to a wet wipe.  Aside from the two tiny sides of a square island in the store which specialized in Midol and other such feminine needs, the entire store was filled with nothing more than four aisles of candy bars, donuts, potato chips and soda.  Not so effective in the diaper department.

Thus, I was left with a small handful of napkins pulled from the drink station to wet down at the bathroom sink. Unfortunately, doing the entire job one-handed left me clinching all five napkins together, producing one wet mass that would not be separated.  Thus, after one meager swipe of the soggy napkin ball, I was left with still nothing to cleanse my child from his own yuck.  Nothing, that is, except for one pathetic onesie which I had just pulled over his head due to it's already having been filled with the mess.  And, of course, if you're a Mommy alone in a gas station bathroom with nothing but a wipe-less diaper bag and a onesie already covered in baby poo, what are you going to do but decide that the onesie can't really get much worse than it already is - and, hey, at least it's softer than napkins.

Happy sixth anniversary to us.

I'm telling you, this is a stunt this kid would have never pulled if his siblings had been around.  For months I've been answering comments such as, "He's such a good baby!" with the response, "Well, he knows he has to be - he's the third one!"  Something tells me he's getting a little too cozy with this brief "only child" business.

1,000 Gifts:
522. Curling up with a nursing baby.
523. The soft hairs of his baby faux-hawk.
524. The breeze blowing through our hair during a train ride in the park.
525. The trill of a train whistle and, "Hey, Mr. Conductor, why does the train make that sound?"
526. A walk with a red wagon.
527. Graduation day - the thrill of the next step.
528. Rare time with extended family.
529. Chocolate cake.
530. A roomy backseat.
531. Meandering through the store.
532. Shrimp in its many forms.

24 May 2012

Of the Business of Living

We've been busy leading a life of, well, busy.  But the good kind of busy.  The best kind of busy.  Not the kind that leaves you at the end of the day, feeling spent and worn out but not really knowing what's been done.

The kind of busy filled with the whir of a sewing machine, the planning of projects, the clicking of the computer keys, the stirring up of dirt, the visit to the doctor followed by the dispensing of medicine, the talking with friends, the picking up of toys and wiping of kitchen counters.

And, of course, the kind of busy that doesn't feel busy at all - the reading of books, the snuggling on the couch, the dancing to The Muppets, the sharing of dinner and the planning of celebration.

Yes, we've been busy, but it's the kind of busy that reminds us why we're alive.

1,000 Gifts:
511. A birthday - the perfect time to remind someone you love them.
512. Feeling accomplished at a project (or two) completed.
513. Pizza with friends.
514. A beautiful morning in a shaded backyard.
515. Sharing life.
516. An evening dance party.
517. Contagious grins on a grumpy morning.
518. Nap-time stories.
519. Wet curls.
520. Sickie Snuggles.
521. Mom, Dad, and three kids all cuddled on one couch for movie time.

Photo(s) of (Yester)day:
This would be the impromptu dance party during the closing credits to The Muppets.  Most dance moves were dictated by Micaiah - like this command to dance "backwards".

A rare, difficult-to-capture, but rather adorable, grumpy face from Sir Joseph.

20 May 2012

Of Patience and Trust

I believe little Joseph got the memo that he is our third child and we may not be able to deal with many more crazy antics in this chaotic family.  He is so entirely mellow, it blesses a Momma's heart.

Of course, I do remember, thanks to the wonders of being Baby Wise, none of our children were extremely difficult at this young age of only three months, but I also remember wondering how they could be so impatient on certain things, like feeding.  There were so many times I would try to explain to tiny baby ears that, "Yes, Momma hears you.  The fact that you are in her arms and she is sitting down with you on the couch should be an indication that you are so close to being able to eat.  Is this incessant screaming really necessary?"  And, of course, these were also the times they were screaming so hard it took them a moment to realize I was even trying to feed them, if they would just stop crying long enough to take it.

Not so with little Joey.  This guy cries when he's ready to eat (sometimes - usually only in the morning - most other times he sucks his thumb like a mad-man and, occasionally, even goes back to sleep), but the minute Momma picks him up, all is right in his little world.

He trusts me.

He knows that even if I have to wander around the house for a few minutes first, if he is in my arms, food will come.

I love that about Him.

How much greater does the Heavenly Father love it when we trust Him?  When we know, if we are in His arms, we will be taken care of?  Why am I too often the obnoxious screamer who doesn't seem to notice that His presence is enough, and, if I'd only pay attention, He is offering exactly what I need?

Thank you, Lord, for these children who teach me the greatness of your love (and patience).

1,000 Gifts: 
507. Rainy days and Sundays
508. Re-focusing on His Crazy Love
509. Spontaneous arm wrestling
510. A number puzzle and a sharp pencil

Photo of the Day: Leaving a potluck in the "rain" (it was more of a heavy sprinkle), Emmett helped Daddy carry the "Brella".

19 May 2012

Of Acting Spontaneously

A movie I had requested was ready to be picked up at the library.  That's really how it all started.  I didn't even want to go out today.  

After so many weeks of plans and being in and out and running ourselves ragged, this one blessed weekend that remained untouched on our calendar was like a beacon, calling for us to slow down and take a moment to breathe.  I fully intended for us to spend that moment at home, all five of us, none of us running errands or darting to and fro.  But then there was that danged movie at the library.  And someone had to go get it (because, of course, if we're relaxing at home all day, we're going to need a movie to snuggle with).

So, we had decided I would make the most of the chore and take my daughter out for a little Mommy time as she absolutely loves playing at the library (don't worry, they have an entire corner of the building devoted to play-time).  But then there was the issue of our having stayed up until 1am (yes, yes, again) and then after a bug meandered along my jaw at 5:30, I was quite unable to rest my weary eyes with adrenaline and fear mixing in my veins for the next two hours.  As a result, my husband watched the big kids while I caught up on sleep just a little and found myself waking at just around 11:30am.  And I still hadn't had breakfast - and, well, it was pretty near lunch time for the little ones.

And then . . . it all came together.  Why shouldn't we just embrace the day and make an event out of this cross-town trip? 

And so we did.

First, we had to figure out how to set up the stroller we purchased a couple of months ago and had yet to use. Emmett waited patiently while Daddy and I thumbed through the manual and clicked things together (yes, right there in the library parking lot - there's nothing like feeling like a clueless parent for the whole world to see).

Ok, yes, Daddy actually did push the stroller while we were out, but we just needed to prove that getting around with three little ones can be done!  Not that I'd bother with getting the stroller out for any of my daiily errands, but just in case I needed to, now I know I can.

Lunch/Breakfast was at a new favorite for Philip and I - a place we have only visited once before due to their lack of evening hours, but fell in love with for their yummy food, cheap prices and down-home feel.  It's the kind of place that makes you feel like a "regular" from the moment you walk in.  Here's to you, Coney Island!

After lunch and some quality library time, we meandered home with a stop at Cherry Berry - the kids first visit ever.  And, despite their faces here, they absolutely loved it (and everyone present knew for certain Micaiah wanted "chocolate and sprinkles").

They may have also loved the fact that "the Rock and Roll show" (this is what she calls "Saved by the Bell" due to the opening credits - it's a show we watch daily at lunchtime; thanks, Netflix!) was playing on the giant television over their heads.

Joey enjoyed Cherry Berry, too, mainly because he got to spend the entire time cooing at that baby staring back at him from the mirror on his carseat toy.

After naps, the kids woke up to a surprise!

They sure did love romping around in the tent Daddy set up, just for fun!  And I'm really not sure what they're looking at here, but I love how they both wear the same expression.

The evening ended with dinner of hamburgers, pretzels and strawberry shortcake right there on the back patio, enjoying the beautiful evening weather.

And I'd say that itinerary would beat the pants off sitting at home on the couch any day.

1,000 Gifts:
501. Watching the teamwork of ants as they carry a piece of cat food much grander in size than themselves.
502. A movie in 3D.
503. Feeling a part of the "in" crowd.
504. A large bucket of popcorn.
505. Saying good-bye (that's one of those hard eucharisteos - so grateful for the opportunities before them, so sad to see them go!)
506. Re-reading words that have meant so much.

Project 365: The Back Issues - Here's what you've missed:

May 17: We spent Thursday evening attempting to be helpful to our wonderful friends who are now officially moved to Colorado (we're pretending that part's not true).  I'm afraid we weren't quite as beneficial as we'd hoped, but we did get to have a photo of Joey and Holly - who, if you are acquainted with his birth story, very nearly had to deliver him for us (and is now quite with child herself).

May 18: This is one of the roses from Mother's Day, which I thought looked just beautiful glistening with water droplets (after I sprayed the spider mites, which aren't so beautiful).

While I photographed the rose, Micaiah decided to lay down with Joseph while he wiggled in his play gym.  And if Sissy did it, Emmett's gotta do it.  Joey looked a little invaded, but he tugged on Sissy's hair to get even.

Joseph celebrated three months of life LAST Saturday, but we only just got to taking his photo with Jemima.  Getting so big!

16 May 2012

Of Making a Choice

I slept in this morning.  It was my choice to wait to get up until 8:30 even when I know Bible Study starts at 9-ish (yes, this decision had a lot to do with the fact that I, once again, failed to get a good night's sleep).  It was my choice to give myself only a half hour to get two kids and myself dressed, ready and fed (the third child I had, in a brief moment of wisdom, dressed and readied before nursing him at 7am - before he fell back asleep in my bed where I, too, dozed until that 8:30 waking).

Thus, knowing the potential stress surrounding such a time-crunching decision, I made another choice.

I chose to be patient and kind in a situation where I so often get it wrong - yelling, rushing, and scolding until we are all in the worst mood possible before getting out the door.  I chose to enter my kids' room with a smile and quietly listen to their excitement over the books they'd been reading as they waited for me to come in.  Of course, I listened while I got things prepared, pulling clothes from the drawers, diapers from the shelf, but I listened - and that matters.  But most importantly, I made a choice for us to start our day well.

And, yes, I was out the door by nine (I love living a mere mile from the church) - which is exactly the time I would have been out the door had I not made the choice to be kind.  Had I been harsh and hurried, I would have gained nothing but sour kids, with hurt hearts and a mean mommy.

This is the lesson I get wrong more often than not: Being punctual is never worth a loud voice, harsh words or a bad attitude.

Thank you, Lord, for speaking to my heart today before I even rose from my bed - because, today (just today), I got it right.

1,000 Gifts:
497. Lysol - banishing the bad germs and yucky feelings of unseen terrors
498. A decision to dedicate this day to the Lord (and praying the same decision is made tomorrow and the next day . . .)
499. God-given opportunities
500. Children, entertaining themselves, not with loud voices or unintended violence, but with the quietness found in the pages of books.

Photos of the Day: Daddy had a little backyard time with our oldest cuties.

15 May 2012

Of Disenchantment

"Mommy, we still have a baby brother."

"Yes, baby, we do."

"But when we're done with him, then he will go?"

"No, baby, he's a part of our family now.  He's always going to be with us, but he will grow up like Emmett and like you."

"No, he's not; he's going to go."

Pair this with the fact that she was still talking about the baby sister in my tummy as of Sunday and I'm thinking someone is getting disenchanted over the excitement of simply having a baby and she is ready for that girl.

Sorry, sweetie, to the best of my current knowledge, you are just going to have to wait.

Maybe she's just jealous he stole her face.

1,000 Gifts:
494. Unexpected Surprises
495. Making room
496. Doing math "homework" with my three-year-old (and teaching the concept of "0")

14 May 2012

Of My Mother's Day Blessings

This past weekend was filled with so many of those gifts from God which I have been intentionally counting since the new year:

482. Creating Gram's Mother's Day gift.

483. Spending time with Gram.

484. A good-bye party for our beloved friends (who will be missed beyond words)

485. Baby Dedication Banquet

486. Smiles for Daddy

487. Gifts for Mommy (Roses, a new mug!, and some Impatiens to grow myself)

488. Watching Micaiah's dear friend, Bekah, be baptized (and seeing the joy on our dear friends' faces as they witnessed their daughter's obedience to the Holy Spirit in her life - so beautiful!)

489. Dedicating our child to the Lord.

490."Voodoo Cheddar" fondue for lunch (Cheddar, Shrimp, Tomatoes and Green Chilies - so good!)

491. Watching this chubby guy nap

492. A family game of Bocce (which may have included trying not to hit our kids in the head as they caused field interference).

493. Half-Price shakes at Sonic

It was definitely a beautiful way to cherish one another as family!

13 May 2012

Of My Mother

I know, I know - it's cliché and expected to talk about my mom on Mother's Day - but I'm sure that doesn't mean she appreciates it any less.  And my mother has put up with a lot from me, so she deserves my putting aside my detest for giving into the cliché.  Besides, God has really spoken to me lately about my relationship with her, and I have only recently begun to see the true impact she has had on my life - aside from the clean diapers, lessons in personal hygiene and freedom to be the independent woman I am today.

She has taught me what it means to love unconditionally - even when her children bite back or reject her input, even when the man she married was not always the spiritual leader she needed.

She loved.  And she has been the ultimate example for the strength required to submit to the one she had vowed to honor - even when it seemed things would never change.  Always, at every turn, I saw her submitting first to God and then to her husband.  In all things.  Even at the times I felt she should quit.

And our God is faithful.

For as long as I can remember, my mother rose before the rest of her family (or at the very least before her children) - much like the woman of Proverbs 31 - resting in her spot on the sofa in the corner of the family room, one single lamp shining, Bible open on her lap, head bowed in prayer.  There were a few mornings - those of fevers or misplaced jeans - when I dared to interrupt for my needs of the moment and, always, she gave me the time.  But most mornings I knew this was not my time - this was God's time.

Those mornings spent in prayer are what I believe carried my family to where we are today.  Through the struggles, through the bitterness, through the anger and unresolved conflict (brought to resolution years later).  We are here - all at the feet of Jesus, together.

The husband who was ill-equipped for spiritual leadership for much of their marriage has found His stride - carrying her now to the throne - sitting, now, in that same corner that used to be hers - lifting up her name to His Father - praying to love her, love his kids and, most of all, love God, with all he has to offer.

Our God is faithful.

And I pray I will know how to honor in the same way she has - how to live an example of daily living in God's Word to my children and to always respect the man with which I have been blessed even, especially, on those days I don't agree.  Trusting always in the God who is faithful.

Thank you, Mom, for never giving up and for loving us all, even on the days we were so unlovely.

"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.'" - Proverbs 31:28-29

Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful Mom and wonderful sister (also, not pictured - in this photo circa May 2009 - my fantastic mother-in-law and amazing sister-in-law!)

10 May 2012

Of Self-Control

Yesterday morning I sat in Bible Study unable to focus, groggy, and altogether useless to anyone.  I had been short and cranky with my children and holding a conversation was a struggle.  I was miserable.  All because I had not gone to sleep until nearly one o'clock that morning.  Of course, having a new-ish little one in the house, you might think I had a good excuse - but if I told you he was in bed by nine, you may think I was crazy for not getting sleep when I could.  And you would be fully justified.

So, again, there I was, the next morning, paying for my poor choices the night before, spending time doing various things around the house, rather than getting the rest I needed.  And suddenly I had a small kinship with all those who had baffled me before with their decisions to imbibe in alcohol to the point where they are absolutely useless to the world not only at the time during which they are drinking, but also the next morning, as they suffer from the inevitable hangover (of which I truly know nothing more than what I've seen on television).

I've always wondered - if they know they'll be so entirely miserable the next morning, why drink it in the first place?

And, yet, there I was, not a victim of my own drunkenness, but a casualty caused by a lack of self-control all the same.  Exhausted, useless and unprepared to deal with the world.  All because I decided it was more fun to shirk my grown-up responsibilities to be sure my body had the rest it needed and give in to my childish tendencies to break the rules (especially self-imposed rules), simply because I can.

When would I learn?  Didn't I know the consequences?  And didn't I make the choices all the same?

And isn't self-control a fruit of the Spirit?

Clearly I'm still a work in progress.

1,000 Gifts:
466. A tiny sticker of Buzz and Woody hidden among the folds of my sheets - these days are so fleeting.
467. The productivity accomplished by ignoring the internet.
468. Pelmeni for dinner.
469. Birthday Parties
470. Big Bird Bandages
480. Acrylic Paint
481. Old furniture made new.

07 May 2012

Of Remembering

I'm going to admit here and now, my blogging may get quite spotty as I focus on meeting my News' Year goal. I beg your forgiveness, but hope you'll understand.

Nevertheless, I have stopped by tonight because I have had such a wonderful day enjoying my children and felt I needed to remember it always.

I need to remember moments like licking the remainder banana bread batter from the bowl with my daughter as she pauses to let me know, "Mommy, you're a good mommy."  So many days that does not ring true and from a little girl who always speaks her mind, my heart almost melted.  (Also, later, while "playing house" with Daddy, she apparently quit because "This game's too hard" - yes, my dear, being the Mommy is hard sometimes.)

I need to remember her drawings that are getting more advanced by the day - like this one of Aunt Dia.

I need to remember sitting on the couch with all three of my wee ones, going through their toddler-aged Brain Quest one of them got for Christmas (I LOVE Brain Quest, so this was quite exciting for me), while brother and sister traded spontaneous hugs and kisses - for no other reason that they were sitting next to each other and realized they just really like their sibling.  And I really like them, too.

I need to remember getting help with the laundry.  We're training him up in the way he should go . . .

 I need to remember spiders with nine legs and noses (definitely can't forget the nose!).

I need to remember him snuggled up on his sister's pink chair.

I need to remember waving Joey's monkey rattle in his face and actually earning giant grins and adorable giggles.

I need to remember hide-and-seek with a little hider under a pile of toys, reaching one arm out to find his sissy's purple hat to place it on his head - all while the seeker (Mommy) and her tiniest partner stand at the door giggling.

Finally, I really need to remember what a difference living out a schedule makes in our lives - knowing what needs to be done and feeling the accomplishment at the end of the day at having not only checked off the to-do list, but, as a result, having the time and energy to love on the most important people in my life. (And, as a result of that, how much sweeter everyone is to one another.)

I always need to remember.

1,000 Gifts:
459. Our oldest son taking care of his babies.
460. Sharing - without arguing
461. Spontaneous sister-brother hugs.
462. Reciprocal brother-sister kisses.
463. Baby squeals.
464. Playing with a baby who smiles and giggles back.
465. A jump-start on tomorrow's to-do

06 May 2012

Of His Faithfulness

The music of Sunday mornings is my re-fueling time, it feels.  To have those weekly moments of standing among a chorus of the saints - those fellow believers traveling alongside on this narrow road - as a harmony of voices worships my God with me - I simply feel as though I have been carried to His very throne, standing dirty and unworthy, but so loved.

It was in these moments this morning that God just continued to rip me open, breaking up further fallow ground - pointing out areas of residual bitterness and unforgiveness - unforgiveness that has been festering for years, decades even - and disobedience.  I didn't know he could cover so many topics in one twenty-minute span, but our God is the God of the impossible.  And suddenly I was broken.

But the theme that just kept echoing in my head was, "He is faithful."  There are so many points in my life that I would once have considered hindrances to my walk, which He has completely turned around.  Our God is faithful.

People on whom I might have given up have been changed.  Relationships I might have considered lost have been restored.  Bitterness erased.  Forgiveness opened.  Our God is Faithful.

One area of my life God has been working lately has been on my submission to my husband.  To continue to work this point, I attended a short seminar at a conference our women's ministry hosted yesterday morning.  The title of the seminar was, "There is Nothing Weak about Submission" - this title is so accurate as it takes a courageous woman to submit to another's will - to truly trust another to determine and protect one's best interests takes strength and humility.

At the end of our brief session, the dear friend who acted as instructor encouraged the handful of us in the room to remember: we get the easy part.  We have simply been called to respect and submit - that's all.

Our husbands, however, have been commanded to love us, their brides, as Christ loved the church - unconditionally and sacrificially.  Every moment of every day.  To love in such a way is not easy.  And yet, this is their charge.  To love like Christ.

So, this morning, as I stood beside this man who has sworn to love me in such a way, I recalled how whiny and bitter I had been that very morning about our assignment to work in the church nursery, rather than attend Sunday School with our friends.  I'll admit, we both hate these days (another point God was working on, but that's beside the point at the moment).

But as I complained, once more, my husband insisted, "You go to Sunday School; I'll go to the nursery by myself."  And he was serious.  Now, I, honestly, was not going to leave him alone in a room of toddlers, but the fact that he offered - the fact that he continually offers to do the unpleasant because he knows I don't want to.  That's sacrifice.  Daily.  Daily he takes over what I have considered overwhelming, sacrificing his own wants and needs for rest, down-time, or even his own to-do list.

He is constantly sacrificing for me - even on the days when I have no right to complain.

Loving me the way the church is loved.

Loving me in a way I do not deserve and had even failed to notice most days.

To bless me with such a man - our God is faithful.

05 May 2012

Of the Classics

I had one of those moments the other day, the kind of moment when I was vacuuming the living room/dining room floors and watched an ant scurry away and, thinking of all the insects, crawling, creeping or flying, which have invaded our home as the heat has risen, seeking respite from this mid-spring summer weather, reaching the 90's already, I had a fleeting thought of, "I could blog about this."  Really, about bugs.

I could title it,"Of the Bugs of Summer" - catchy, eh?  But then I realized maybe the reference would be lost on most.

Because maybe not everyone spent their childhood repeatedly putting the VHS tape into the VCR on which their dad had recorded a couple of hours of VH1 (you know, the grown-up version of MTV that played more soft rock than pop hits - though those were allowed, too).  Not everyone fast-forwarded the VH1 recording to find their favorites, like Paula Abdul's "Straight Up," Billy Ray Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart," and, yes, Don Henley's "Boys of Summer."

Especially not many my age.

Most of my friends were barely sitting up on their own, if they were even born, when this hit was at the height of its popularity.  And there I was, nine years old (or younger), singing about long-lost summer love, when Don Henley was already past his prime - and here I sit, still able to sing along with the chorus.

This is one of the gifts my dad has passed along to his children, a fondness and appreciation for the classic rock (and a little pop, too) hits of the seventies and eighties.

Because I know not everyone spent their weekly Pizza Hut visits sitting in a booth, waiting their Pan-Style Meat Lovers, while Dad picked out the songs on the juke-box, always the same ones, asking the waitress to turn up the speakers so we could hear his prime playlist and he could quiz his tiny musical protegés on the name and artist of each hit - like Brownsville Station's "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" or ZZ Top's "Legs" - while we competed to see who could spit out the answers quickest, hopefully within just the first couple of notes of the tune.

So not everyone still turns up the radio if their dial happens to land upon Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," singing along to lyrics that will never be forgotten, though definitely not understood at the time at which they were ingrained.

And all of these memories flooding back because of one tiny ant as I vacuumed our living room/dining room floor.  And now I'm pretty sure I won't see another insect this summer without humming a little Don Henley.  Thanks, Dad.

1,000 Gifts:
452. Women being real
453. Free paint
454. Chicken Carbonara Pizza (especially when it's free)
455. Realizing what's worth crying over (and, more importantly, what's not)
456. A husband who consoles, even over the not-important tears
457. Being noticed
458. Remembering

Photo of the Day: Our big little man loves playing with his "babies" - this afternoon he even fell asleep snuggling with sissy's doll.  He's going to be such a good daddy some day - only don't tell him that; he always just responds with, "No, I Emmett!"

04 May 2012

Of This Old (yet Young) House

Five years.

Five years ago today we signed the deed on this, our first house.  We had not even been married a full year.  And, like most new marriages, what a rough year it was.  But we were ready to move on.  Ready to move out of our one bedroom on-campus apartment into our new home.  The new home that would bring about the next part of our real, grown-up lives.

A new house was a symbol.  It was a symbol that, though Philip was graduating, we were not going anywhere. The next chapter of our lives would continue in this same town where our love had blossomed.  This was where I worked, this was where our family would begin - or so we hoped.

I sat in that very hallway around the corner to cry when the kitten we were fostering for Philip's sister (coincidentally, also named Joey - the cat, not his sister), passed away after one short week of our care - questioning whether I'd ever be fit to truly care for a living being.  I sat in that very same hallway to cry as we made the decision for me to leave teaching, despite the opposition to our decision - I questioned whether I would ever be able to make a wise judgment.

We moved in with one stray cat we hoped to tame and now, five years later, this house has been a home to three cats, six fish, two dogs and a turtle.  Only one feline has made it to this milestone (don't worry, so far as we know, the fish and the aforementioned kitten are the only ones no longer on this earth - the others have just moved on).  

We moved into a home with three bedrooms, hoping to make one of them a nursery at some point and still have room for visitors, and in the past five years, while one room was had begun to be cleared out, only eight months after moving in, to make space for a little on on the way, the third room has spent its days as an office, a guest bedroom, an office/guest bedroom and a nursery (/guest bedroom) to two little boys.

We have spent hours pasting tissue paper to the walls of one nursery and painting blue the walls of another.  We have painted furniture in the backyard with dreams of filling the shelves with children's books and toys.

We moved into this home knowing we planned to expand from a couple to a family, but never did we imagine, as we signed those papers five years ago, we were purchasing a future home to three babies or that one of these would be born in the very bedroom where we set up our first king-size bed, right outside the bathroom where I had seen the two special lines on three different pregnancy tests.

This house has been the home of decisions, prayers, dreams, tears, plans and hopes fulfilled.  It has been the home of first steps, first words, first baths and first cries.  It has seen joy, frustration, anger and forgiveness.  It has been the backdrop to bed-time stories, late-night talks, early-morning feedings and mid-day play-dates.  It has welcomed friends, parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and a nephew.  It has been home.

It's been quite the five years and this house has been a part of every bit of it.

Happy Adoption Day, House!

1,000 Gifts:
442. A house to call a home.
443. A loving little brother
444. Tea parties while Mom and Dad cook
 445. The sound of a husband hard at work maintaining the land God has given us.
446. Snuggles on a rough day
447. Forgiveness from little hearts
448. Grace when Mommy drops the last kiwi in the sink and has only apples left to offer.
449. Thank you notes to write - symbols of love and generosity we don't deserve.
450. Breaking out the china.
451. A baby who smiles at my singing (I don't get that response a lot)

Photo of the Day:
This was the posture Emmett took while eating his snack and watching "My Little Pony" with his sissy - hand on her back, occasionally running his fingers through her hair.  He is such an adoring little brother.  I also love seeing a possible vision for how he will treat his future bride, with a posture of protective love.

02 May 2012

Of Getting Behind

In case you have been wondering how the book has been going which I vowed would be printed, in my hands, by my Golden Birthday (which, at this point is less than two months away) . . . well, it's not looking so good.

After floundering aimlessly for awhile (ok, more than five years), I finally talked to my editor (ie, Philip) who encouraged me to stop the process of writing, re-writing, re-reading and re-writing again all of the first part of the book without ever moving forward.  I need an outline, and I need to just write.

Editing, he assured me was his job.

I didn't like that.

This is, after all, my baby.  And I alone, I felt, am capable of making sure my baby is beautiful and healthy.

But, once again, he was right (why is this always true?  and why has it taken me this long to realize?).

So, I'm outlining.  And even that is going slow.  Has anyone ever mentioned that having three kids really sucks the time out of the day?  I mean, I enjoy my time with them, but between my wonderfully rambunctious and needy little ones and a house that doesn't take care of itself (and whose messiness can be directly linked to my - and thereby Philip's - stress level), I find there are very few minutes left in the day for my own endeavors.

Thus, this is me, being accountable.  Someday this book will be finished.  At this point, I'm simply hoping all the rough draft work will be done by my birthday.

So now you know . . . in case you've been wondering.

Photos of the Day:
While waiting for Mommy and Daddy to finish gabbing with friends post-parenting-class, Micaiah (and her friends) took to the dry erase board.  This is her masterpiece depicting herself (the tallest) and her brothers (Joey would be that tiny circle of a head with two inch-long legs underneath Emmett).

And I love how this boy just needs a happy thumb to put himself to sleep (also, this onesie is so not Baby Wise - but it's pretty cute either way).

01 May 2012

Of Getting Domestic

This past week my adorable niece, McKenzie, celebrated her first birthday.  In honor of such an occasion, I dusted off my sewing machine (ok, maybe it wasn't as dusty as I thought, I just remembered I made super-hero capes for Emmett and his cousin for Christmas, also), headed to the blog I had pinned to Pinterest many months ago and got to work on a project I meant to start much earlier than this.  And I probably should have because it took a little longer than I imagined - but that's mainly because sewing in a straight line (a straight-non-diagonal line) requires me to let the needle go a little slower than I'd like to admit.

But after a couple of days and a few extra hours, the bean bags were done!  Here's the final result:

I was kind of excited and maybe a little proud.  There were a lot of firsts for this project: ribbons, appliqué, bean bags!

And then, since I had the machine out anyway, I decided it was finally time for another project I'd been meaning to get to.  These lawn chairs were the first furniture we bought when we became home-owners.  We ate our frozen pizza in them the first night in our new house, before we moved any of our other furniture in, right there in our living room, with the fireplace going (because it was our first fireplace!).  Unfortunately, when the dogs met them, they went downhill fast.  And then some prego lady sat in them and the seats split right down the middle (yes, both of them, at separate times).  So, this was the sad condition of our lawn chairs:
I had actually planned to create new covers from the day the first one split - or I guess, really, before that, when the one above was left without a back when it was chewed to pieces before they were stored in the shed.  Either way, it was clearly a long time coming.  So, again, since the machine was coming out of hiding anyway, and I was really missing being able to sit in the backyard while the kids played, I pulled out the fabric I had bought last year to re-cover a garage sale find that just never happened.  I inspected the pieces left from the original chairs and was able to re-create the design for this final masterpiece:

Ain't she perty?

Here's a before and after - quite the difference!

The final pair - now Philip and I can enjoy a nice sunset conversation on our very own patio.  It's been a long time since that's happened!

I'll admit, all this domesticatin' has really gotten me in the mood and now we've gone stark crazy re-making everything.  Ok, not everything.  But we're in the process of painting some garage sale furniture I scored a couple of weeks ago and there's no telling where the remodeling craze will hit next!

1,000 Gifts:
437. Fresh paint giving new life.
438. Sitting on the patio.
439. Grass blowing in the breeze.
440. A fierce storm (when I'm cozy inside)
441. A husband praying peace over his nervous wife.