Monday, January 30, 2017

A snow day! January 2017

Snow days are not common around here these days, it seems. But when we get snow -- you better believe we find what we can, layer up and get outside! You can see in the pictures that Benjamin chose to leave the house unprepared and didn't wear socks while playing in the snow... while wearing his sneakers. Boys. 

This was Caleb's first time to actually play in the snow.  He loved the idea of snow and didn't mind being in it, but the second he touched it he was done. Haha! Elise was only a fan after she let me put the right clothes on her to play. We obviously don't spend the money to buy our children appropriate snow clothing! Maybe some day....

Neighbors/friends. These boys found a pond and then I kindly gave them cookies and hot chocolate and lectured them about never, ever going near or on a pond when it's cold in Oklahoma. 

Smart girls ate snacks inside and watched the boys from the warmth of the kitchen!

Best Friends Forever.

Getting ready to walk back home after spending some time at the Moss home! We all took turns having the kids in our houses so they wouldn't go crazy!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

103rd Court Community

We live on a cul-de-sac.  I don't think I ever really knew or saw the value in such a set up before moving into our house.  The kids can ride their bikes or have races or watch a ball roll down the street without the fear of random vehicles, for the most part. This street of ours has been a gift.  A literal gift from the Lord. 

But it's not the address or the asphalt that we love, it's the people.  We all moved into our homes about the same time.  Within a few months, we were seeing one another frequently.  Days became months and now our children roam from house to house as the play and pretend and share snacks. And the women around me have become some of my dearest friends. 

The saying "it takes a village" never felt more real than it does now.  How would I have gotten through pregnancy without neighbors who let my children play when I felt awful?  How would we have made it to the hospital so quickly when I was in labor with caleb if it weren't for my neighbors? How would I have made it to the ER within minutes when Patrick was sick if it weren't for my neighbors?  How would I get Benjamin on time without waking a baby if it weren't for my neighbors? But it's not just the "big" things.  My children love playing with their children.  My children have learned to respect other adults words and rules.  My children have found great comfort in the arms and presence of people we've only known for two years, who feel like extended family.  

I have had quiet moments in chaotic days because our neighbors allow my children to be in their home. I have cooked dinner many nights with more than one helper who isn't mine.  I french braid hair for basketball practice. I prepare lunches for more than four. I give hugs and kisses to sad girls, find bandaids for road burn and mediate very dramatic conflicts -- and my sweet neighbors do the very same things in their home! Just yesterday as I was leaving to run an errand I  looked around and  there were six boys playing Wii, two girls coloring and a baby trying to feed everyone snacks. This morning we gathered to celebrate a birthday with presents and cake -- the very thing we do for nearly each birthday. 

This is, delightfully, what our days look like.  

The boys explore the woods and ponds, they climb trees together and wrestle.  The girls play dolls and dress up and makeup.  Then they all come together to play house and race up and down the street.  Best friendships are formed and early memories are etched in tiny minds as they live like kings and queens wandering territory they've claimed as their own.  Childhood sounds pretty magical when it's lived like this!

And if you could only see the street in the summer time! It's glorious to watch 103rd Court Olympics, a very intense game of backyard baseball, ice cream and popsicles after dinner and trampoline jumping into the evening dusk.  Screams and laughter fill the air.  Disputes are solved and lessons are learned. 

I don't pretend to think it's normal to have this, or that it's never been done.  We have a little slice of heaven over here -- and I enjoy it more than words can describe!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Writing my thoughts clears my head....

I've been wrestling through so many emotions and struggles and words lately.  Everything seems to run together when I try to get it out, but I think it's important to get it out. I feel like I've been under a cloud, lost under waves, crawling through trenches.

The past two years have had such sweet things, I know this well.  I truly do. But the weight of the hard things and the overwhelming things and the whirlwind things are what I grab on to to define the way I view what our days have looked like.

And I don't think I'm wrong.
And I don't think I'm too negative.
And I don't think I'm depressed.

I think I've walked though some dark days and months.  I think I'm a deep feeler and that I can see the weight of things like some can't.  I think I process and analyze life in mysterious ways. I think I've lost the ability to cope and rest, but I'm committed to refiguring these things out.  I think that I've walked through some hard things that have left me a little numb and as I come out of this cloud, I'm asking questions and figuring things out.

More than anything, I know that my life isn't awful.  I know that harder things happen and the things I've walked though are way lesser than some. But they are my things and part of my story.

Walking through infertility was part of my story.  The difficulty I felt having three kids and building a house was real.  Having a shocking and surprising pregnancy was a miracle, indeed! But it brought out feelings and sin and struggle that I didn't know were part of me.  Pulling Andrew out of preK was humbling and the best decision for all of us, but at the time it felt weighty and hard.  First grade for Benjamin was torture on all of us. Craniosynostosis changed my heart and my life forever.  No one wants to watch a nurse walk away with your tiniest baby and then hold him again with a bloody scar that caused him great pain.  The sacrifice and selflessness I felt and learned through that was one of the most eye-opening character struggles I've endured. After that it seemed like one sickness after another for three months, which is just normal when you have four children.  But felt disheartening after everything else. A slight breath and then Patrick's muscular reaction and meningitis set me back again. I also started allowing myself to process my past and the things I've endured.  This was equally freeing, exhausting and heart breaking.

This doesn't seem like too much, I guess, over the course of two and a half years.  But this doesn't include the little day-to-day things that felt hard or overwhelming or even slightly off.  I also didn't include my mom starting chemo, again, and walking with friends through great tragedy and trials. Those felt just as heavy as my own days sometimes.

I've never seen the darkness of my heart and sin like I have as I look back at what we have walked through and how I've dealt with it and felt it. This is a great gift and a deep struggle all in one package.

All of this to say, I want to be an overcomer. I want to be victorious, not a victim. God knew and has known what my days and my heart would look like.  He knew what I needed to walk through and endure.  He knew how I needed to grow and change.  And, oh, I have.

I want to look back at my life and know that the hard things left scars and marks, but didn't define who I am as a woman. I won't give up wresting because I want to be a fighter.  I want to figure it out. But I want to move forward, to be free.

Maybe 2017 looks a lot like letting go, throwing my hands in the air and being a little of who I was and where I came from, but mostly being the woman I will become.  I would rather be a risk taker and find out things the hard way than miss the adventure entirely.  And friends, this adventure is absolutely worth the risk - heart ache and growing pains and freedom, sacrifice and tears and laughter, and everything else in between.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Pink Dance Party!

Elise asked very persistently for a "pink dance party" for her birthday.  She has been waiting {not} so patiently for this day to come!  It's so hard to believe my girl is THREE! She is such a treasure to us, to me.  She was my easiest delivery, our strongest willed child and the most girly little princess!

Elise is kind and compassionate.  She is feisty and opinionated.  She is vibrant and expressive. She will talk constantly if you give her the opportunity {and sometimes even when you don't}. She loves to sing and dance and play with dolls. She likes to snuggle on the couch and run errands to Target or Trader Joe's.  She likes to help, but also likes her own way.  She can be so sassy and then be so sweet.  We often say that this is Elise's world and we are just living in it :)  And that's a fairly true statement.

Elise loves to take care of Caleb. Sometimes it works out great for both of them and most of the time Caleb ends up crying because she squeezes a little too tight or tells him "NO" a little too loud.  Elise loves Benjamin and admires him so.  She and Andrew enjoy/tolerate one another.  They fight the most between all the kids.  Yet, Andrew is a safe place for her and he loves her well.

Elise is still a daddy's girl through and through.  It's been so sweet to have her develop a desire to spend time with me lately, though.  She loves to wear makeup and dress up.  Elise wears a ballerina dress most days and rarely wears pants these days. Her currents goals are to go to school and take a dance class -- she asks for both daily. 

Elise lights up our days.  She is a treasure and a delight.  She is so different than the boys and I say that a lot, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  She is who she is and it is fabulous! Even on hard days and tantrums and meltdowns and when she is absolutely inconsolable, she is our girl and she is such a gift to our family.

Here are some pictures from her party!!!!

Elise was a little scared/dramatic about the candles. 

friends + cake!

Elise's favorites!

Me and my girl and her girl.



Dancing to "Let it go"!

Such a {short} fun dance party! All these kiddos has some great moves!

Pink decorations and pink presents. 
The very pink cookie cake Elise requested.
Snacks and treats! and pink.
Opening presents was a slow and thoughtful process for Ellie!

AND here are some random pictures of our sweet girl! Everyday is a fantastic adventure with Elise!

Elise is THREE!!

Here is Elise's three year old questionnaire:
I have added my own comments about what she likes.  Her answers give you NO idea about who Elise is or what she likes ;) I loved asking her these questions and waiting for the answers.  She always makes me laugh.

How old are you? 1-2-3!
How tall are you? ummm. i'm 5. (She's TALL! I'm pretty sure she was 36 inches at her last appt)
How much do you weigh? 3. (about 35 pounds)
What is your favorite toy? my pink toy. (baby mary and all of her accessories.)
Favorite book? my pink book. (Elise loves the baby lit books --Jane, Alice, Pride & Prejudice)
Favorite movie? my pink movie. (Elise rarely watches movies.)
Favorite TV show? Einstein's! 
Favorite food? pink food. cake! (Elise loves yogurt and fruit, PB sandwiches, mac & cheese)
Favorite fruit? pink banana (I would say her favorite fruit is starwberries or grapes.)
Favorite vegetable? snap peas
Favorite snack? pink snack. (fruit snacks, zbars.)
Favorite drink? juice. i want juice.
Favorite activity? talk about my birthday.
Favorite color? ummm..some colors. (pink)
Favorite sport? dance party.
Favorite song? Jesus. (Elise loves to sing! She can sing Amazing Grace, Be Thou my vision, Jesus loves me and so many more)
Favorite animal? pink animal. (monkeys? horses? My Little Ponies? ahhaa)
Favorite game? Halleluia (She calls "Let it go" Halleluia. She's never seen frozen, but we dance to let it go a lot.)
Favorite outfit? pink ballerina dress.
Favorite holiday? some cake. um, my birthday.
What do you need in bed when it's time to go to sleep? blankie. baby mary. thumb.
Best Friend? Lorelei is my friend.
When I grow up I want to be? a ballerina.
Nicknames? Ellie. Ellenator. Sissy.
Thing I am really good at? Being a mommy to Mary and Caleb. Helping mommy. Dancing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The things Andrew says...

Andrew has always been a fabulous conversationalist.  He is lively and hilarious -- and I don't think he even tries. He is random and easy going. So, it's no wonder that on a daily basis I think "I really should write this down!"

*A few weeks ago, Andrew came into the kitchen while I was doing dishes.  He came up behind me, tapped my bottom and walked to the pantry.  He turned his head around while still looking for a snack and said, "Hey mom. Are you sure you're not having another baby?" To which I responded, "No buddy, we are all done having babies..." Andrew looked for a snack again and then said, kind of loudly, "Well, your just all fat and squishy." *insert rolled eyes and a little sigh from me*

*We were coming home one evening and the gate opener for our neighborhood wasn't working well. I said to Patrick, "This clicker only works when you're just right in front of it..." and out of no where Andrew chimes in and says, "It because the mouses are working it." Haha!

*Andrew calls spaghetti "ska-betty" and so do we :) It's also one of his favorite foods.

*When Andrew wants to say "it doesn't matter", he says "what matters..."

*Andrew goes through phases of not liking girls every day, and only liking girls on Sundays and Thursdays.

*He gets along with most kids and changes his "best friends" somewhat regularly.  Although, Micah is usually the top friend :)

I wish I could think of more of his conversations off the top of my head! He is so funny and loves to talk -- which makes for constant Andrew-isms! He is confident in what he says and it's always so random and serious.  He also gets in trouble often for his words.  It's a fine balance to learn -- especially when you're five.

Monday, August 22, 2016

First day of school // 2016-2017

 Benjamin is in 2nd grade!!! Time has gone by so fast -- it feels like we were just getting ready to start preK and now, he's a big kid! He was mostly ready for school to start, but wasn't super excited about not being able to play and do whatever he wanted all day {hahahahaha!}.  He was ready and antsy to leave 15 minutes before we had to leave.

 Age: 7
Teacher: Ms. Wagner
Favorite food: pizza
Favorite color: black
Favorite friend: Alexander
Favorite subject: science and recess
Least favorite subject: Math. With a hearty grunt and huff.
When he grows up, he wants to be: A scientist/astronaut -- working for NASA

Benjamin was underwhelmed with my desire to take several pictures. He didn't last long with this tradition! 


Andrew is in half day preK this year. I don't regret in the slightest holding him back a year.  It was perfect for him and for me! :) He was a little hesitant this morning, but ready to go.  He was so brave and did so well in class!

Andrew, though, loved taking pictures and asked me to take several of him doing different poses.

 Age: 5
Teacher: Mrs. Chan
Favorite food: pizza and spaghetti {as he says skabetty}
Favorite color: dark, dark black
Favorite friend: Micah and Ben {neighbors}
Favorite subject: being friendly and writing
Least favorite subject: uh, math? {because that is Benjamin's answer. ha!}
When he grows up, he wants to be: a ninja

I love this picture of Andrew! Such a true picture of this boy!
A favorite skill: touching his nose with his tongue!

A few pictures of my big boys together!!! I love days with Benjamin and Andrew and I'm pretty sad that school has started. Even on hard days, I like that we are together.  I like being the main influence in their lives during the formative years of their childhood.  A schedule and structure will be nice, but I would rather hang out with these guys than send them to school! :)