Monday, October 31, 2011

More pics (and thoughts) from our adventure

Crazy weather.  When we arrived I was sure all the winter coats and hats I packed would never be used.  This morning we woke up, and it was WAY too cold to eat out on the screened-in porch where our tables and chairs are.  So all the blankets and thermal shirts I packed are now going to good use. 

And when it was too wet to play at the park this morning, Teacher Man took us on an adventure to…. Burger King!  Hey… to a three year old, that’s an awesome quest.  Plus, now that we’re back, it’s warming up a bit and the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds. It’s naptime (sigh…).  All moms with little ones know how precious this time is.

This may sounds terrible, but I’ve been looking forward to these naptimes more than anything else.  Children nestled in the cabin, sleeping snug and cozy with their blankies.  Teacher Man and I on the back porch reading, blogging, talking life, looking at trees so vibrant they seem to be on fire.  This is the stuff I want my whole life to be made of.  Glorying in God’s creation, my God-given husband and best friend, the soft sounds of the lake hitting the shore.  Have I mentioned that?  Our cabin has its own pier (not that we need it), but that also means that our porch overlooks the lake surrounded in autumn trees.

All summer long, I missed that we weren’t taking a vacation.  Now I’m so glad that we waited.  No one else is here since it’s the middle of the week in October.  So it’s us, the birds, the squirrels, and a few thousand trees at the peak of color. Oh, and the DNR people, who I’m pretty sure love the fact that our little guys are running around excited about everything they see.  We’ve gotten a lot of smiles when they see Caleb ripping around the grounds on his red Radio Flyer tricycle. 

So hurray for the fall retreat from the world.  Not without it’s stressful moments, but totally worth it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just Enough (from our vacation)

We’ve been camping now for two days.  So blessed.  So unbelievably blessed.  The weather has been in the 70s… in late October… in Indiana.  That never happens!  We’ve played in the park, tricycled down the paths, blown bubbles on the fishing pier, and crunched through the autumn leaves.  Both boys can’t stop smiling.  I don’t know if it’s the outdoors or just the fact that Mommy and Daddy can love on them with no distractions, but we’re having a marvelous time.

Tonight we had a stay-in-the-cabin evening since it started raining right after dinner.  After watching “Finding Nemo” with Caleb (thank you, laptop!), we played Memory and Thomas the Tank Engine Go Fish.  We’re still working on the concept of keeping your cards a secret although Caleb has the rest of Go Fish down.  He yells out each card he gets when he “goes fishing.” 

Caleb: I got a Harold.
Me: Shhhh.  Don’t tell us! It’s a secret.
Caleb: (whispers) I got a Harold.
Teacher Man and I: (turn away so we can laugh)

You’re going to think we’re super boring.  Maybe we are, but this afternoon while the boys were sleeping, Dave and I lay down to read and rest.  Two hours later we woke up to Benjamin crying that his nap was over.  Yep.  We took a family nap. It was glorious.

I guess that’s what I’m loving most about this time away.  We’re just living life together.  No pressure to get things done.  No house itching to be cleaned.  No computer enticing me with messages.  No Google Reader calling to Teacher Man.  No responsibilities pulling us away.  Just enough for each day. 

Just enough food to get us to the end of the trip.  Just enough clothing to wear for a few days and wash.  Just enough space in the cabin to live together.  Just enough light for each day; and when the light is gone, we sleep.  Thank You, God, for just enough.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Going Silent

So I didn't have time to post about the party today, and I'm not going to have time tonight.  There's a van to be loaded, bags to be packed, and fun to be planned for our camping getaway this week.  Can't wait to spend three days with my favorite men on the planet!  I'll post about our adventures soon!  If you need some reading material, check these out:

No Shame in Stillness  I'm taking this advice literally this week.

Check out the mother of all hot wheels tracks here.

Making this when I get home so my house smells like fall.

We all need to remember this, no matter how busy we get.

If you're not into Halloween candy, this is an inspired idea!

Blessings, friends.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Addicted to the Written Word

As much as I like reading blogs, if I have time to read I'd really rather be holding a book.  I know I'm killing trees, but I just like the smell of books (especially old ones with yellowed pages), the feel of books, the fact that I know others have perused the same pages.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't think I could cozy up with a cup of tea and a Nook or Kindle.  Sorry, Amazon and B&N.

As I said, I love reading truly old books. Yes, I'm the girl who goes crazy in used bookstores. At one point, my mother brought a huge collection of books (all with maroon covers) home from my grandma's house.  You see, my grandmother's sister worked as a nanny for a wealthy family in the area.  Whenever the wealthy little girl threw away a toy or grew out of something, my grandmother's sister would bring it home for my Grandma Laura.  This series of books was just that, and, though missing a few volumes, it was read and treasured for many years.  My mother unearthed them in Grandma Laura's unused upstairs bedroom and brought them home for my sister and I to enjoy.  They were the Elsie Dinsmore books, not all 28 of them, but most of them.

I read through the first few when I was younger, and sometimes I'll pick up a book and keep reading through the series.  Some complain that Elsie is intolerably good.  She is.  In the words of Caleb, "She always makes good choices."  But sometimes, it's just nice to read a story where you know the heroine is going to do right, honor God, and encourage others to do the same.  A few that I have read have had great plots, others were rather dull; but it's like a TV show.  I just want to find out what happens to all of my characters.

I've recently become an Amazon Associate, which means that if you like something I recommend and buy it after clicking on the link on my page then I'll get a commission.  Not big money.  Just a little to help with the rising cost of groceries and Big Train vanilla chai tea.  As I was looking through the prices of some of my favorite products, I noticed that many of the Elsie Dinsmore books have become public domain literature.  This means that they are available on Project Gutenberg or for Kindle.  Now, I hate reading off my computer; but some of you may not share my dislike so here's what you can do:

You can download some of the books from Project Gutenberg for free!  Eighteen of the original books are there.  Or you can download Kindle for PC for free and then start downloading free books onto the Kindle program on your computer through  More of the Elsie stories are free on Project Gutenberg (fyi).

So that's my discovery to share tonight.  More on my crazy little men tomorrow, but for tonight I'm going to grab a cup of tea, open up on old book, and delight in its well-worn pages.  Here's a link on where to find all the Elsie books online.

The Problem with Sunday School

Caleb: Mommy, I don't want to go to my class today.
Me: You LOVE your class!  Why don't you want to go?
Caleb: Because they don't have lots of toys and trains and a tree.
Me: They do have a tree.
Caleb: They don't have two trees or guinea pigs.
Me: Well, I think we'll go to class even if they don't have guinea pigs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pretend Birthdays

So our lives have been consumed by our boys' birthdays for the last month.  Caleb has been reading about birthdays, waiting impatiently through all of Ben's birthday festivities, dreaming of all the Thomas trains he wants, and talking about how much he wants a "Thomas chocolate cake."  After his actual birthday passed, it was all he could to do contain his excitement yesterday about today's party.  He set the table multiple times.  "Here's G....'s chair. And this is where O... will sit.  And here is Grandma's seat. Oh, and they need napkins!"  I was cracking up about him setting the table with all the special party plates and napkins while I was feeding Ben in his high chair.  Then all of a sudden Caleb ran to his room and came back in the room with da da-da daaaaa......

his Melissa and Doug birthday cake set.  He set up the candles, and we practiced singing "Happy Birthday" to Caleb.  Then we sang "Happy Birthday" to Ben. Then we sang "Happy Birthday" to Mommy.

Can you sense the intensity in his face?  Birthdays are serious business around here.  You only have one shot every year to get it right, and practice makes perfect.  

We practiced serving the cake, eating the cake, and praising the deliciousness of the cake.  I felt confident that we were ready for the real thing.  And you know what?  We were.  It was probably the best day in my son's life so far.  He glowed.  What could be better than celebrating another year with few Thomas enthusiasts?     .    .     .          Exactly.  Nothing could possibly top this. I'll share more on his little get-together (he got to have three friends over because he is now three years old), but here's a taste of the fun:

No, I didn't make this.  Pretty amazing, huh?  I'm signing off after a long day of enjoying my oldest.  May all your tracks be to great destinations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Still Sick

My baby boy is having an epic battle with this stomach flu.  Sometimes it seems he is winning.  Other times, I just want to cry because he's so sore.  So my only post today is "please pray."  Pray that Ben will have his good health back soon.  Pray that the rest of us will have grace for one another after almost two weeks of sickness.  Thanks, friends.

p.s. All sickness and no health makes mommy kinda mean.  Appreciating your prayers today!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Going Campin'

So when we only had Caleb, my husband and I went camping with a few friends from church.  We hiked; Caleb napped. We ate; Caleb napped.  We sat around the fire laughing with our friends; Caleb slept.  Are you seeing the pattern?  He was totally chilled.... and sleepy.

Okay, so a few times he was awake so we could take cute pictures.

Including my all-time favorite picture of Teacher Man and Caleb.  Totally unplanned.  Totally awesome. This was the wallpaper on my computer FOREVER.

Anyways, Teacher Man and I have been desperate for a vacation.  This summer we focused on ministry.  The school year is focused on.... well, school so we never really took any time away since Benjamin was born.  And we're feeling it.  We're feeling that unbalanced busyness that happens when we don't step back and evaluate....when we don't slow down and play tons of Candyland...when we don't take time to stop and wonder at the beauty of God's  masterpieces.

So I need help from you!  I haven't camped with two children before, and we haven't had this much family time in a long time.  Any suggestions for things we should take with us?  Games we should play?  Books that must be read?  I know it's only three days, but we'll be off the grid.  No phones.  No laptops.  No distractions. Think of all the time we'll have!  Help me out!

Okay, this one is just because I like looking through our old camping pictures.  
Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We All Do Our Own Thing

Teacher Man had to do a ton of planning tonight.  He's amazing, always taking one night a week to do his planning for the next week. Normally the planning alone takes 4-5 hours.  If you add on his normal school day (9 hours), that means he's working 13-14 hours today so that we can have a weekend together. . .  without schoolwork.  So so grateful.

So I did the dishes alone tonight, expecting to get interrupted every time I put another dish in the sink; but something miraculous happened.  Nothing happened.  Caleb played quietly with his new train set in the living room.  Ben read books to himself in the family room and didn't bother his big brother at all.  It just left me washing dishes in a beautiful quiet, listening to Ben coo and Caleb narrate his latest drama with his Thomas trains.  Beautiful noises.

Whoever has been praying for our family, for my sanity, for our health, thank you!  We're on the mend, and I know it's by God's grace.  My little boys' bums are hurting after this flu so I told my older boy, "This cream will help your bottom."  He turned to me and said, "No, God will heal it."  True, son. Thanks for reminding me Who is really in control over everything, including diaper rash.

Cheap Birth-Date

Yesterday afternoon, we just couldn't wait any longer.  We finally pulled Caleb's birthday present (which I had been hiding for 7 months) from the garage.  My sister-in-law picked it up for me at Kid's Market (Winona Lake's amazing kids consignment sale!) back in March, and even David and I have had trouble not pulling it out to play with it.  My sis-in-law called me when she found it, and I could not believe it was only $10.  Anything at Kid's Market is clean, in working order, and complete.  Love that sale!  Caleb could care less that it had a previous owner; in fact, he has no clue.  We brought it to him completely put together so he wouldn't have to wait through the construction process.  Buying clean, quality toys at garage and consignment  sales is just one of the ways that we make ends meet so I can be a stay-at-home mom.

Are you ready to hear what it was???

It's Thomas at Tidmouth Sheds!  What??   You're not drooling or jumping up and down?  Clearly I gave it to the right person then because Caleb would've slept with the set if we'd allowed him.

Anyways, the rest of our family's evening was spent figuring out how to make the remote-operated Thomas go in the Sheds, how to get all the other trains on the track (this is key!), how to work the points (train term), and then how to get Caleb to go to bed when he clearly wanted to live in Tidmouth Sheds.  We eat, sleep, and breathe trains around here; but right at this moment, there's a Thomas song playing about being patient so I'm just grateful Caleb got into something that has some good character lessons.

I suppose we could have gotten Caleb more birthday presents.  I have more things stocked in the closet that I know he'll love, but why would I give him all those things when he would only care about the train set? We'll save the others for Christmas and for the inevitable long, snowy days of January when he'll actually care instead of throwing them to the side because he needs to play with his trains.

Of course, Ben was super excited about the set which was the hardest part of the evening.  Ben played "Destroy the Island of Sodor" while Caleb was playing "Trains Have an Organized Schedule."  Sometimes I just have to laugh at how different they are.

I'm off for another day of sickness recovery involving the BRAT diet, lots of diapers, and way too much television.  But I'm pretty sure that there will be some serious train time too :-).  Blessings to you all!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

3 Years Ago...

Three years ago today, I was lying in a hospital bed in complete wonderment that life would never be the same again.  Thank goodness.

Caleb, you bless our lives with your silly comments, your deep thoughts, your compassionate heart, and your big brown eyes.  We love you more every day!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sleep, Sickies, and our Savior

Teacher Man and I are currently running on low sleep and high caffeine, little down time and lots of one-on-one time with each of our children.  This one-on-one time sounds really sweet, but let me give you clearer picture (which way too many parents will be able to relate to).

My one-on-one time with our older son has been in the bathroom.  Poor little guy can't shake his stomach flu even though his fever is gone.  We've read books, told jokes, played on my laptop, and argued over whether or not he's done (this last one most of all).  Lots of memories have been made, but none of them have smelled very sweet.  'Nuf said.  Caleb has also been waking up in the night because he doesn't feel good... or he's having a bad dream... or he wants more ice in his water.  No lie.  He woke me up at midnight one night so I would put more ice in his water.  "Two cubes, please."  I'm not the Culligan man.  I didn't smile... at all.

My younger son has been having trouble sleeping through the night after months of sleeping with no problems.  The kid eats like horse during the day and has a potbelly to prove that he's not hungry... ever.  I honestly think he's starting to have bad dreams (like Caleb did at his age), but this means that one of us gets up and sits up with him until he calms down. Sweet baby :-(.

Sigh... It's a new season of parenting that makes me so grateful that my Heavenly Father NEVER grows weary and has new mercy for me every morning.  He is SO FAITHFUL!  Just because He dealt with my impatience and pride yesterday does not mean today He's going to say, "Seriously, are you still struggling with this?  How many times have I tried to teach you this lesson?"  He just faithfully encourages me in His Word, reminds me of His love, covers me with the righteousness of Christ, forgives my sin, and holds my hand along the way.  The perfect Parent.  The perfect Example.  

So tonight, I'm committing to allow tomorrow to be a fresh day for my children with no mistakes in it (name that movie!!).  I'm committing to loving them, encouraging them in the Word, reminding them of our (and God's!) love, and holding their hands as they find their way to Christ.  May each failure of mine bring me to ask for forgiveness and demonstrate humility to my children.  May each failure of theirs point them to their need for a Savior.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

just for fun

I love this picture.  This was sooo my week.
Caleb- on the brink of sleep at all times but unable to get comfortable
Benjamin- sucking thumb and holding blankie, of course... Oh, Linus...
Me- Just keep smiling, smiling, smiling... Just keep smiling, .....
Praying for a better week.

The Kingdom

My parents bought season tickets to a concert series and divided the tickets up among them, my sister and her husband, and our family.  This means that for the first time (in a VERY long time) my husband and I are regular concert goers.  This landed us in Fort Wayne last night for a Newsboys, Building 429, Leland, Royal Tailor, and Manic Drive concert.  Anyone who grew up in the late 90's in church sang "Shine" and knows all about barbeque hamsters... Good ole Newboys.  It was a really fun evening, but in the middle of the hype Shaun Groves (one of my favorite bloggers) came and spoke about the Kingdom.

To many, his words probably seemed like a commercial in the middle of their favorite TV show.  He was encouraging people to sponsor children through Compassion.  To give to others since God has so richly blessed us in the States.  The average American spends $100 on soda every month, $69 on cable.  That amount would feed, clothe, and educate more than 4 children for a month besides giving them the opportunity to hear the Gospel.

The phrase that I heard, which I've heard before but need to have before my eyes daily, is "Live simply so others may simply live." Live simply so other may. simply. live.  Being part of the Kingdom right here on earth means that I have been saved for a greater work here than just living out my days, waiting for my turn to go to Heaven.  God has given to me richly so that I may use His gifts to help heal a hurting world, to see His Kingdom come and His will be done.

So now you know I'm a concert spoilsport.  In the midst of the awesomeness, my favorite part of the whole evening was Shaun Groves.  He didn't even sing, which made me sad because his new album Third World Symphony is worth listening to and playing over and over again.  I need to hear his song "All Is Grace" often.  You can listen online at the link above, and please do.

We sponsor a little boy in Bolivia named Alexander.  He actually lives in the city of Santa Cruz where I lived for 50 days while student teaching.  We write back and forth with Alexander often, and my husband thinks it's funny that I always read Alexander's Spanish rather than the translation because I really do need the opportunity to practice.  I guess what last night impressed upon me is that Alexander needs to be a bigger part of our family, our prayers, our conversation, our attention.  I want our children to know how most of the world lives.  I want them pray for Alexander and have a relationship with him through his letters so that "living simply so others may simply live" is ingrained in them as a way of life.  When they think of poverty, may they not think of statistics but of their friend in Bolivia, who could be a statistic if it weren't for the work of Compassion International.

Sorry no pictures today.  Have a blessed Sunday!  And consider checking out Compassion International. $38 a month can change a life. Just. Amazing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

We Read and Recover

Oh my!  The last few days have been full.  Full of snuggles, full of diapers, full of tears, full of activities, and full of Beatrix Potter.  I'm pretty sure I've tried to get Caleb interested in these before, but he discovered a few at the library last week and is now hooked.  I had a couple treasuries of Potter stories from my childhood that we have been poring through.  Right now "The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck" and "The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin" are by far the favorites.  I love the vocabulary in these books!  Big words for little minds!  I'm also a fan of her illustrations.  Finally!  A break from "Thomas the Tank Engine"!  Don't get me wrong.  I'm grateful there is a pleasant show with good stories that encourage making good choices so I can get a shower once in a while.  However, there's just only so much Thomas a girl can take.  When you find yourself singing the theme song in the shower, it's time to branch out... and go on a date night... and sleep more.  I think I'll do all three.

Okay, and just in case you think we only read books with big words, we are also HUGE fans of the Elephant and Piggy books by Mo Willems.  Benjamin (12 mo.) laughs so hard when Teacher Man reads them.  These are easy reads with great humor. Caleb is transitioning to reading simple words himself, and these books are perfect for him.  Easy readers that are not boring.  Who would've thought?  Mo Willems uses simple illustrations but masterfully gives his characters BIG personality.  These books and his Pigeon books are worth checking out at the library.  Just don't check them all out because then my kids would be sad.

And just in case you think that our children aren't allowed any screen time, let me just share that their new favorite thing to do with Teacher Man (when he gets home from a long, hard day at school) is to play Birds Game (Angry Birds).  They both pile on his lap and love watching birds squawk and fly through the air crashing into things. (Notice Ben clapping in the picture.) young and yet so totally boy.

So that's what our guys have been up to the last three days while we recover from this awful stomach flu.  Pray that we're done with it, will you?  Ben seems to be fine (hope he stays that way), and Caleb doesn't have a fever this morning. May it stay that way! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Craving Creativity

I'm not creative... or at least I don't feel creative.  I don't scrapbook (tried digital scrapbooking and finished more, but it's just not my favorite).  I don't sew well. (Okay, I can sew, but I need to read the manual to the sewing machine every time I get it out.)  To be honest, it hasn't been until recently that I've enjoyed creating things in my spare time.  I have had the insatiable desire to find and create beauty.  Maybe it's Pinterest. Maybe it's having a bit more time now that Ben naps.  Whatever the case, I'm thoroughly enjoying stretching my incredibly weak creative muscles.
About a month ago, I finally finished a project for Caleb's room: framed pictures from several of his favorite children's books.  I figure as his interests change we can either change out the pictures or just take them down and use them elsewhere.  The idea came from another blog, but I gave it my own spin.  I bought several frames from garage sales, secondhand stores, and IKEA.
 Caleb's room has white crown molding so I spray painted all the frames to match the molding.  I then made scans of pictures from several of his "read this one again" books and cropped them to be different sizes (5x7, and 8x10) to give the wall some variety.  I meant to have more frames with mattes, but that didn't happen.  Oh well.  Overall, I'm super pleased with how the wall turned out.
  As a mom, any time I finish something outside the daily, I give myself a high five, a pat on the back, and permission to slack for the next 12 hours (just kidding on that last one).  Caleb walked around for days saying, "Thank you for the pictures on my wall!  They look so good! That was very kind of you."  I'm not even lying.  That's the way he talks.  Don't ask me where he got that from.  I'm guessing "Thomas and Friends."

Currently, I'm working on a blanket for Ben.  Watching him snuggle with what I have done so far is all the motivation I need to keep going.  I also found a TON of neutral fabric at a garage sale on Labor Day weekend that I'm excited to turn into a table cloth and perhaps some matching curtains for the dining room.  Oh, and I reclaimed my keyboard from my parents' house to practice my old pieces from college (dreaming of the day we own a piano... so dreaming!) and sing the occasional 10 verses of "This Old Man" with Caleb.

While I love seeing my handiwork around the house, making things look all nice and homey; I think the bigger goal is that my efforts to create will encourage our sons to reflect the image of their Creator by working with their hands, utilizing their imaginations, and just having fun being creative.  If I don't do it, how can I encourage them?  So for this season, I have picked up small projects that bring me joy that I can pursue while mothering.    And I think it's rubbing off.  Caleb painted with watercolors this afternoon for an hour, carefully selecting recipients for each of his masterpieces because, as we've told him over and over, if you don't share what God gives you, you lose it.  Some of the blessed receivers are reading this so act surprised when Caleb hands you a picture with all the enthusiasm a 2 year old can have, okay?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Soft Words from a Sick Boy

So the longer we parent our children the more changes I realize I need to make in my own life.  One of the family guidelines we've tried to incorporate is to "Always use soft words, even when you don't feel well." Wow!  I stink at this.  My preschooler is completely showing me up today.

Yesterday he told me his tummy hurt, and a few minutes later I realized that his eyes were glazed over.  In our family, that means a fever or total exhaustion (or both).  Poor little guy has had a fever of 102 degrees for the last couple days even with medication (Yes, I'm a medicating mom.  Plus, I have boys.  I'm convinced they have a lower pain tolerance. Yep, that was a cop out.)  Even with the fever, he is taking gentle reminders and is using "please," "thank you," and "May I please.."  When the fever gets him worked up, we've been able to ask him to take a deep breath and to use kind words; and, for the most part, he has!

His prayers tonight were so genuine. "Dear God, please help all the sick to go away so I can go outside, and please stop the rain and the thunder.  In Jesus name, Amen"  Way to make it to the end of the day, big boy!

I, however, have struggled.  My quiet time was stolen by an up-early baby, my nap time was taken by the plumber (Hurray for a working toilet though!), and my husband has a deacons meeting tonight, which means I'm on my own.  Frustration and exhaustion has been bubbling under the surface all day.  Someone out there must be praying because I have had soft words for both my children despite my struggle, I have had more creative ideas for how to entertain my quick crawler and my sick preschooler, and two sweet college gals we host dropped by with a HUGE pumpkin spice latte.  Umm... can I get an amen????  So what was my creative idea...

Does this bring back memories?  It's a Talk 'n Play...mine and my sister's from the 80's. My family saves everything, which, in this instance, was incredible.  It's the Leap Pad of the past with a cassette and book.  The four colored buttons allow you to answer questions (I can't explain how that works, but it does). As I was moving boxes in the spare garage today, I found it!  What a God thing!  Caleb has been happily listening to stories and interacting with the gang from Sesame Street.  Thank You, Lord!

Just in case you're wondering about the other little guy, he's fine. He's been crawling around faster than ever.  Every time I turn around he's crawling into different rooms to find someone to play with. Amazing!  No fever, no stomach flu.  Just a huge smile and an enormous appetite for black beans.  Let's pray that he stays that way because I'm pretty sure we haven't taught him about using soft words yet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Look, Mommy! It's fall!

We're a little giddy about fall.

Caleb is the family leaf raker, no matter that he does it one leaf at a time.

Our big trees make the best crunching leaves in the county.  I'm sure of it!

We sat outside yesterday and tested my crunching theory for a really long time.

This boy explained to me that the leaves smell so good... like leaves.  And I agree wholeheartedly.

This boy is a cherub.  No one can convince me otherwise.

He has asked about the whereabouts of his rake already this morning.  Look out, lawn!

And, yes, this is pretty typical.  Don't worry.  I grabbed it just in time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Racking up the phone minutes

(we're at the dinner table)
Caleb: Beep Beep Beep

Me: What's that?
Caleb: Oh, it's my phone! (picks up his fake phone) Oh hi, Grandma Joan, I was just calling to tell you that I was eating muffins and having snack. Umm Hmm. Okay. I played trucks and trains with you today. (and he goes on.......)
Me: (sitting at table wondering when Caleb is going to finish his imaginary conversation with his grandma)
I don't know what's worse: talking on the phone at the table or the fact that he also paces the house on his fake phone (just like his momma).

My New List

My personality likes to check things off lists.  I like to look at my crossed out grocery list, take a deep sigh, and mentally pat myself on the back for finishing something.  So much of mothering little ones makes a list useless and a bit frustrating.  Why set a list of big goals when you will accomplish none of them but instead will spend the whole day (and I mean the WHOLE DAY) with a 23 lb. baby strapped to your hip because he's having separation anxiety every time he's set down?  Why make a neat list of daily chores when your children follow you in Tasmanian Devil style and throw messes all over the house? I've discovered that giving thanks for those graces helps to capture the moments, slow things down, and make me delight in where I am, but I'm a list girl.  I need a list.  So I've decided to write a new list:

1. Take a picture fun/silly/precious of both children.
2. Tickle both boys til the belly laughs come.
3. Speak something encouraging in each of my men's life.
4. Listen.  Turn down the music.  Turn off the computer.  Just listen to what they are saying.
5. Read Scripture for myself and later share Bible time with Caleb even at unconventional times.
6. Read books with both boys in different places around the house. (We've recently discovered that my bed is the boys favorite place to read with us.)
7. Sleep. Even if it means missing the end of Inspector Lewis.  Sleep.  You'll regret it if you don't.

None of these things will take much time.  All of these things can be done with a baby on the hip.  At the end of the day, I'll know I accomplished something so much more real than getting everything cleaned, put away, disinfected, and done.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Taking the Stress Out of Travel

Traveling is exhausting... and stressful.

So as many of you know, I stress.  I stress about the unknown, I stress about forgetting things, and I stress about the well-being of my children more than anything.  This weekend I realized how prepared and "with it" I was feeling when it came to caring for my children.  We were at the Verity Institute having a staff retreat and training with Child Evangelism Fellowship.  Our state director generously provided us with a babysitter (who was amazing!) during the training sessions, and we had a really big room with our own private bathroom.

There was such a sweet spirit about that place.  So many people gathered to give glory to the Lord.  I found myself lost in joy some moments even though I was definitely feeling sleep-deprived and hurried.  I'm so glad we were able to attend even though it definitely took some extra effort.

One of the biggest helps was Tsh's packing list for a week-long trip.  Though we were only going for a few days, the list is really the same (minus a few pairs of pants).  The list is conveniently divided into sections.  I crossed things off the list that I knew we didn't need and checked off all items as I got them packed.  Once I finished a section, I gave myself the gift of making a big X over the whole section so I could better see what I had left to do.

There were so many moments that I just thought, "Thank goodness for that list!"  For starters, the building was an older construction so my husband and I had some allergy issues.  Good thing the list said to pack adult AND children's allergy medicine.  We all took our dose of Zyrtec and were much happier for it.  The list also included packing jewelry.  That's the last thing I think about when I'm packing for four, but it made me feel so much more put-together when I had matching earrings to wear to the trainings.  Definitely a girl thing.

One of the entertainment items on the list was "books for adults."  So glad I took my book because I actually finished it this weekend!  All that time outside pushing a stroller back and forth with my feet while reading really paid off!  Also, the entertainment list help me to remember our card games.  You never know when you'll need a Dutch Blitz challenge to get the blood flowing!

Now that I'm not running on adrenalin and caffeine, I can look back and see how blessed we've been this weekend and how effective the packing list really was.  If you're not already a Tsh addict, check her out!  Because besides prayer and the promises of Scripture, planning is the most effective way I know to avoid stress.