Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Triple Play

This is the year of Christmas extended. We celebrated Christmas with my family two weeks ago. We had our little family Christmas on Christmas Day, and now we are gathering at my sister-in-law's for our final hurrah of the season. It's been one of the most relaxed and wonderful family times we've had recently! I look forward to posting pictures of paper-tearing, food-stuffing, and snow-playing when we get home next week.

One thing that I have been thinking about is blessings. We have SO many. And I often forget that. My four favorites are the ones that make my Party of Five lively and lovely. Others are extended family, a wonderful home, jobs that pay the bills but also fulfill that urge to get out of the house! The one blessing that makes my whole world different is my Savior. He came as a baby. He left Heaven's comfortable place to come here. For me. And then He stayed until His work was done and left us to complete it by letting everyone know about His amazing gift.

At our Christmas Eve service the children's message focused on the gifts of Christmas. The kids shared about the trees decorating their homes and what presents they had opened already. Then they talked about what an amazing gift God gave us with the birth of Christ on Earth. The leader asked who's birthday we celebrate at Christmas. They sang out, "JESUS!" Then he asked, "Oh, so did you put a gift under the tree for Jesus?" Silence. Of course, then the leader talked about how we don't need a gift under the tree for Jesus, but that our gift to Him is our heart, our love, and life for His service. It was such a great reminder of the greatest gifts at Christmas time.

So as we open the last of our Christmas gifts this weekend, I hope that I can once again be reminded and pass this important truth onto our children. HE came, HE loved, He died, HE rose again, so that WE can tell, love, and be with Him forever.

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

All together now

This would be a great Wordless Wednesday post if only it wasn't Thursday....

Lessons from the Vacuum

Today in a spurt of unusual energy I decided to vacuum. This in itself is not a big deal, but what happened while I was doing it got me thinking.

Typically when I begin to vacuum a domino affect begins. It starts with Josh who leads his younger sister into a screaming, running, race-like panic around the house. They aren't afraid of the vacuum, but it makes for some kid of kiddo-fun that I am not privy to. Because the noise level is already quite high from the vacuum itself, I really don't care that they are tearing around the house like a bunch of people at the day after Thanksgiving sales.

Owen HATES the vacuum. He usually needs to be in another part of the hemisphere so he won't notice the roar and movement of this strange beast. His fear can be seen the instant the button clicks, the lights come on, and it roars to power. His little eyes widen, his breathing quickens and the tears begin to well in those precious blue pools of the windows to his heart.

But today...

I really needed to vacuum. I didn't want to wait until he was asleep for fear that it would waken him, believing I left him to fend for himself against the vacuum. So I prepared him. I held him tight, spoke to him in a reassuring voice, and even gave him the cord to hold onto for a sense of control. And we began. The vacuum roared to life and I waited.

He paused.
One quick breath.
And then.

He laid his sweet little head on my shoulder.

I quickly began working the room in the hope that I could at least get some of today's lunch off the floor.

He snuggled in.

Soon, I realized that he was getting REALLY heavy. I thought that my feeble arm muscles were just getting a good workout, until I passed the mirror in the bathroom.

He was ASLEEP.

As I finished what I needed to do, and he snoozed sweetly on my shoulder, I began to think about how his fear and, now, this comfort came from the same source. What had changed? Would it happen again? It reminded me of one of the hardest concepts to understand in our Christian walk...Fearing the Lord. Fearing God is a topic I recently spoke with some friends about and heard an amazing thought. Fear is tied up with awe and reverence. To fear God we don't have the same reaction Owen used to show with the vacuum. We aren't supposed to go running and screaming and be afraid. We are to care what He cares for, and hate what He hates. When you think of it that way, a change happens. The same kind of change that happened for Owen. It becomes a comfort. A safe place, because you know that you are following His will. He has given you His rules, shown us what He cares about, and now we can take comfort in the fact that we can fear Him, by following Him. He even gives us a bit of control (like Owen and the cord), by giving us free will to CHOOSE HIM!

PS. Maybe I'll learn something while I clean the bathroom next!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Here's a few from our little ones:

Josh to Ellie upon her refusal to come upstairs to brush her teeth for the night:
"FINE! Then you'll get cavities!"

Josh: Mom, I want to listen to the next song on my Spanish CD.
Me: No, your teacher hasn't told us that we can listen to that one yet.
Josh: But all the other kids have!
(mmmm...what did my parents used to say? "If all the other kids jumped off a cliff, would you??")

Ellie: My chins hurt.

At Josh's Christmas program tonight we were seated in the church sanctuary. The focal point of the church is an extremely large cross with a statue of Jesus on it.
Ellie: LOOK! He is God!

Check out more cutie talk at Mary's!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Seventh Sense

Children have a Seventh Sense.

It manifests itself only at nighttime.

They are slumbering in their cozy beds as you peek in and check on them.

You smile and head to your own room, anticipating the warm blankets and the rejuvenating sleep that is about to come.

And then...they sense it.

You've moved past a certain threshold that requires them to squirm, moan, or even let out a startling cry.

There are varying degrees of this sense. Some children only sense when you are about to leave a zone of proximity that would require you to return to their bedsides.

Others have a keener sense. They will wait until you have climbed into bed, curled up under the covers, laid your weary head to rest, and the warmth of the blankets is just beginning to smooth away the day...and then....

They sense it.

We have one such talented little baby boy in our house.

Dear Owen,

Talents are gifts,
but this ones needs to be returned.
No one likes a show-off.

Thanks to you I know the clock works
EVERY hour of the night.
Please go to sleep and STAY asleep.

Love always,
Mommy and Daddy

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fashion Question

Hi all my fellow fashionistas....

Here's my question....You know how during the holidays you want to look nice and not like someone spit up on you, climbed on you, sneezed in your shoulder, hung on the bottom of your shirt, and that you only buy outfits off the clearance rack? (all of these are very true about me)

So...what is your Go-to holiday outfit?

What combo of top/bottom, fabulous colors and mommy-friendly fabrics make you actually want to smile and take that famous photo in front of the family Christmas tree?

(I usually go for this nice red sweater matched with the oh-so-slimming black pants. But this year, my nursing boo*bs make that sweater more like a bad advertisement for implants. So I'm looking for ideas dear friends....)


1st Snow fun!

Recently we had the first good snow of the winter. The kids were so excited to head out! We loaded them up with the several needed layers (bathroom break first) and out they went!

I remember that wonder and excitement from when I was young. My brothers and I would get bundled up and play for what seemed like hours out in winter's gift to kids. My mom has a great picture of us as we are just coming in from playing outside with my dad in the snow. We're covered in the white stuff, melting blobs of snow in the entryway. Inside it was always hot chocolate to greet us and warm us, as we recounted the battles of the previous hours.

I want that for my kids. I want to forget about worrying that they'll get runny noses, or chilly body parts. I want them to sit at our table with rosy noses, gobbling "smarshmellows" (Ellie speak"), and reliving the day in excited sibling conversation.

This was Ellie's first year where she was actually happy to be in the snow. Last year, she was the "Statue of a Small Child" in the snow. She would just stand, unable to garner enough bravery to make even the smallest of steps. This year....her favorite phrase was..."CANNONBALL!" She would jump, knees first into the snow. One of the pictures above shows her "landing." She also got to make her snow "angle." Although the finesse of standing up after making it and not stepping all over it is something yet to be attained! Josh was the veteran this year, remembering how fun it was to go down our playset slide to land in the soft snow. He was trying to master snowball-making. True to his first born personality, he asked many questions about how you make the perfect snowball, at the same time recounting the rules about how it should never be thrown into the face of an unsuspecting friend. (He's learning something at kindergarten!) Owen watched from inside, grunting and smacking his hands against the cool slider door as he saw his future playground. Wow, I can't wait for that day!

No Standees Allowed

Is This Supposed to be Happening ALREADY??

Owen: 7 1/2 Months.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If you're anything like me...

If you're anything like me, you are having a hard time remembering things. I am constantly writing thing down the instant I think of them. Although this has caused a few awkward interruptions to conversations, it seems to be working. My favorite thing about this, is that I write notes about things I would like to blog about. Most of the time they come to me in the car. So, short of hanging a notebook around my neck, I've been reaching for the nearest paper-like item. Deposit envelopes. Needless to say, I have a stack of deposit envelopes on my desk with quite a few ideas that I would like to post about. Hopefully, the stack will dwindle soon. If not, feel free to send me new envelopes. These kiddos say the darndest things...


Here's some that have been piling up over the last week:

Josh: (BIG sigh) Well, I'm not going to go fishing anymore this season.
Me: Really?
Josh: Yeah, because the water is ice and the fish would be cold.

Upon suggestion to write a card to a fellow classmate who recently had a birthday party that he was not able to attend:
Josh: No way Mom! That's too sweet!
(it was a girl, can you guess?)

Ellie: (Face glued to the back slider window)
I want to make a snow angle!

Owen's new thing to the "Let's find Mom" game. It happens every time I leave the room and he's not on my hip. So, he was in the living room with the Hubs, playing happily. I was in the kitchen making some fabulous meal out of mac n cheese. I said something to the Hubs and there was an instant response (not from the Hubs).
Owen: Eh, eh, eh!
And off he went on his search for Mom. Where do you think he headed first?
The bathroom.
My hiding spot has been revealed.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Just checking in...

Hi dear blog,
I have been MIA for a week now. It has been quite busy. I know many of my friends are also busy so sympathy in not needed...just checking in to let you know I haven't fallen off the face of the earth just yet.
It's been a crazy week for two main reasons. Our beloved minivan got sick this week. And so did Josh. The van went from a few hiccups to "I wouldn't drive my family in this car" (service man quote) in a few short days. So, in a very eventful Thursday we went from potentially having to pay $3000 for a new transmission to...half the cost because they were feeling nice at Christmas to... it being totally covered under a warranty they didn't take the time to research. (I did, and thanks to that we got a rental for the duration of our van's stay at the car hospital as a bonus.)
I had pushed for the rental so I could get to Josh to school on Friday. Until 7 am on Thursday morning, he was just going to have to stay home, because I didn't have any way of getting him to school. Kindly friends in Josh's class gave him a ride to and from school, and I was hopeful that we would be ok on Friday to get him there ourselves. Not so...Josh was up from 11 pm until 7 am the next morning every hour, throwing up. No need for a car. We weren't going anywhere.

Now, before I sound too cynical or down let me share how I saw the shining love of our Lord and His hand of grace through all of these moments:
  • We had just been on a family trip to Shipshewana, IN. IF this had happened while we were on our trip in the pouring rain up, or in the snow while we were there, we would have been riding a horse and carriage home. Not to mention the HUGE blessing of safety on the roads He gave us, instead of a sick van.
  • IF the car hadn't needed to go to the service man on Wednesday, I wouldn't have had to call my friend to cancel going to book club. Through this opportune phone call I found out that the transmission trouble we had was not an isolated incident which caused me to research more information about the source of our troubles.
  • I work the beginning part of the week. IF any of these car troubles would have been serious during that time, I would have had to take precious time off of work. Instead, it all came about when I was available to make several kind but firm phone calls to the service department, research this ugly secret about 1999-02 Odysseys, and be home to find original paperwork from our sale that proved the warranty still covered the powertrain (aka, the transmission, thanks to
  • Josh got sick on Thursday night. IF this had happened any other time, I would have had to take time off of work and with cold and flu season just beginning...
  • Most significantly...I had peace. Real peace. There were several hours of uncertain time where we had the potential for having to fork over an extremely hefty sum of money for this fix. And yet...I had peace. Josh was up every hour in the night and yet we both had peace. He easily fell back to sleep and rested the next day, knowing that I was there, that God was watching him, and that he was going to get better.
God's grace and mercy are ever available.
We just need the faith to see them.
Thank you Lord for the mercies of this week.
May I always see Your hand in our everyday activities.
May I show that to my children that they may also know the gentle peace in all circumstances.