Monday, April 30, 2012

April Showers

April Showers is actually quite fitting for us this year.  In April we were completely SHOWERED with blessings and adventures.  This was one of my favorite months of the whole year.  It was also the month I did fairly well at keeping up with the blog, but here are few things that got missed...

Preparations for baby C in full swing.  Thanks to "Drew That" for the adorable matching brother/sister shirts and gown for baby!  I LOVED how these turned out. And they looked super cute with plaid shorts.

Some friends from church threw a shower for baby C in April.  I'm seriously so blessed that even my FOURTH baby is so well celebrated.  I was overwhelmed by the generous idea of my friend Tara to do a "Baby Basics" shower for him.  I got lots of the basics that I didn't keep after the other three (blankets, onesies, diapers, pacifiers, bottle, etc).  SO practical which totally= my love language.  Its like she knows me or something :)

 See Ya SOON
With my baby brothers wedding only a couple of weeks before baby C's due date, I was really hoping that my parents would come for the festivities and then the baby would arrive so they could just STAY.  It didn't work out that way and you better bet I was a MESS when they actually LEFT to head home.  So, nothing makes a girl feel better than lunch at Celebrity.  So, that's what we did before they left.  And as if that yummy lunch wasn't enough, we also managed to get some of my very favorite pictures out of the deal, too.   

I love comparing pictures.  Here are two of my favorites of my "babies" in the TRUE color of orange.

And lastly, KJs art project for school. This was one of our very first school related "FAMILY FUN" projects.  We were supposed to make a rainbow out of things we could find around the house.  KJ learned a lot from this.  He still knows the order of the colors of the rainbow.  And it was fun.  Up until we left it out overnight and it attracted ants into our kitchen.  FUN.


Friday, April 27, 2012

I am the lucky one

Well hello,
Little baby.
Your eyes have never seen the sun.

You should know
Little baby

That I am the lucky one

Don't feel alone now,
Little baby.
Do you hear me singing you a song

I can't wait to show you
Little baby

How to crawl
How to walk
And how to run

How does someone so small
Hold my heart so tightly

I don't even know you
I love you completely

From early moments of feeling CTL moving around inside of me, I've loved this JJ Heller song, I Get to be the One.  Perfect words for some of our first moments with our precious boy.
Of course, we'd say we are not lucky, we are blessed.  We are so thankful that he is healthy, arrived fairly uneventfully (details coming soon) and is just as precious as can be.

He's here.
Our miracle.
Our surprise blessing during a crazy season.
Our reminder of Christ's amazing faithfulness.
Our precious son.

We are blessed indeed.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The countdown: Nesting and other irrational behaviors

The thing I both love and hate about Google is that if you look hard enough you can surely find someone that agrees with you or validates you. There is someone out there that can take your symptoms or concerns and diagnose them exactly the way you had hoped.

Which is why it may or may not have been a TERRIBLE idea for me to Google “Early signs of labor” yesterday. I was 3 days away from my due date and I just needed to find someone who could tell me that what I’ve been feeling (which actually amounts to not very much at all), is DEFINITELY a SIGN that our sweet baby boy will be here soon. Surely there was someone who could take my symptoms (or lack there of) and accurately predict when our son will be born.

And, true to Google form, I found someone. On a random message board I read that one person described her journey toward active labor this way:
“With my second, labor started via radiating pains in my hips and lower back on Tuesday, nothing but crankiness on Wednesday and horrible contractions on Thursday morning that felt like I was being stabbed (baby was born 5 hours later on that day).”
SWEET. I actually did have random pains in my hip on TUESDAY and was super cranky on Wednesday. This must be a SIGN. But guess what? This is Thursday. And so far- nada.

Which reminds me. There is no such thing as a reliable crystal ball…even on Google. And it appears that our oldest son’s constant mantra of “Only God knows when baby C will come” is very true. Shockingly. I wonder how our 5-year-old got to be so wise? It certainly must be his amazing parents, the same ones that were Googling their symptoms.

The funny thing about trying to find an answer on Google is that it is so different the “normal me.” It actually makes me laugh to think I could know in my head that I would not find something there that could predict CT’s arrival, yet I had such urgency about the search.

The end of pregnancy is funny that way. There are so many ways in which my head and logic are completely disconnected from my actions. In my searches yesterday, I found this hilarious article about “early signs of labor”.  And I loved the funny spin it put on the last days of pregnancy.  So, I thought it might be fun/funny to document a few of my own irrational behaviors from the last few days.

1) A couple of weeks ago I remembered that I had a pair of linen maternity pants. Where in the world were those? Why haven’t I been wearing them? Instead of waiting until morning to find them, I decided to get up in the middle of the night, go into the attic, dig around in my rubbermaid storage bins, and find the missing pants and take them to the laundry room to be washed. Absolutely COULD.NOT.WAIT until morning and let RRL help.

2) And you can bet that they were washed quickly because I’m nearly in a panic if I leave the house in the mornings without having all of the laundry clean, folded and put away. Because how in the WORLD will anyone be able to find clothes for my babies if everything is not in their drawers/closets. Which reminds me, maybe I need to go ahead and layout some outfits for each of them. I wish I was kidding.

3) On Sunday we met some friends for dinner at the park. The picnic was at the other end of the park from our house, maybe a mile away. So, like any reasonable person at this stage in pregnancy whose husband is at work- I decided we would walk. As if trying to keep up with two boys on bicycles while pushing a stroller full of our Princess and our picnic stuff wasn’t silly enough, the whole way there I nearly worked myself into a frenzy thinking of all of the “what-ifs” concerning going into labor while walking through the park. None of which, thankfully, actually happened.

4) When I purchased milk on Monday, I noticed that the expiration date was May 6th. More than a WEEK after C’s due date. I cannot tell you all of the intense emotions that came holding this gallon of milk, standing in Braum's, thinking about how it expired in May. MAY for crying out loud.

5) On Tuesday, I felt the sudden urgency to have a stocked fridge and freezer in case anyone was staying at our house while I wasn’t there. So, I took all 3 kids and my very pregnant self to the grocery store. During nap time. Because this absolutely COULD.NOT.WAIT. Obviously, my friends, my mom and mother-in-law have NEVER shopped for groceries before and definitely could not find their own way to the closest walmart (less than 1 mile from our house).

6) And because we had a stocked fridge and freezer, I determined that it would only make sense to type up two pages of notes on meals. Including a menu and recipes for all dinners for the next week. AND it gets better…I also included a chart on how to pack lunches for the kids to take to school. A chart. With three columns. Main course, fruits/veggies, and a snack. Does this sound necessary to anyone else? Helpful? Maybe. URGENT? Maybe not. Because we would definitely leave our children overnight with someone who is not capable of packing a lunch without a table of directions. Good thing I got that cleared up.

7) Then I decided that a table of how to pack lunches would be completely useless without TWO DOZEN peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the freezer. You know, in case each of our children eat EIGHT sandwiches during the time I am away from the house and anyone else there is unable to make more.

8) AND THE VERY BEST ONE for the finale. RRL and I had a difficult conversation this week about the overwhelming reality that we will soon have FOUR children. We were talking through all of the emotions that comes with that. Of course there is joy in knowing that the Lord created this little one, but it was good for us to talk about the fact that deep-down there are some emotions that don’t quite equal joy. We know it will also be hard at times. It really was a necessary conversation and will be so beneficial to us as we continue to work hard at being united on the parenting front. That said, maybe it would have been better to talk through some of that a few weeks ago, before my current state of complete irrationality landed in our home. Mid-conversation I actually said something like “FINE. If you can’t be more supportive and excited about this, I’d rather just DO IT BY MYSELF.” Right. I’ll just drive myself to the hospital, encourage and support myself through labor and bring home our newborn ALONE. That would be so much easier. Luckily, that is not how the conversation ended. And thankfully, he knows how I really feel. RRL is my favorite team-mate and my biggest supporter and fan. HOW.IN.THE.WORLD could I do this without him? Sorry, Babe! PLEASE COME WITH ME. Please.

Obviously there have been the normal nesting things like washing all of Christopher’s clothes, blankets and burp rags. Being sure diapers are accessible, pacifiers are sanitized, etc. Possibly this urge to prepare is because there is so little control I have right now over the process the body is going through to prepare. Which is truly miraculous indeed!  It really is such a sweet feeling to know soon baby C will be here and none of this will even matter. While we wait, I guess I’ll just keep writing long blog-posts, building necessary spreadsheets and organizing areas of our house that can.not.wait another minute. Because once he arrives, I plan to do nothing but snuggle his sweetness and eat frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


KJ's Treat

At our church, the children earn "Bible bucks" each week for various things- participating in class, scripture memorization, bringing in charitable donations, etc.   Then, they can save them and spend them on all sorts of goodies.  I'll admit to not being an awesome mom in the category of retaining and letting my children spend these treasures.  For a long time our kids thought those little orange pieces of paper WERE the reward and had no idea you could use them to buy other treasures.  In fact, I often used to throw them away (GASP).  Sorry. 

 But a couple of years ago KJ reached the age of awareness and insisted that we do a better job of saving and spending his hard earned paper.  So we have.  Over the course of the last couple of years we have been the proud purchasers of a wooden rattle snake, echo microphone, plastic bugs and dinosaurs, temporary tatoos, and other such amazingness.

This last week, though, on a trip to the "Bible Buck station" he had an awesome idea.  He wanted to spend his moolah on something our whole family could enjoy together.  His first choice was a McDonald's gift card.  But the Lord smiled on this 39-week-pregnant Momma and miraculously all of the McD's cards were gone.  And KJ settled for Sonic. 

Especially when he remembered (with a little prompting) that at Sonic he could buy yummy drinks! 

All 3 kids were so excited about getting to order whatever they wanted to drink.  Unfortunately for them, they rarely get anything but water or milk and the occasional juice box at restaurants so this is a big deal.  Before you are lead to believe that the lack of soda consumption at our house has anything to do with my amazingly-healthy-parenting just know that it may actually be born out of 1) I don't even like cokes (although if Sonic would bring back the delicious mango limeade, my tune might change) and 2) I'm a cheap-skate and can't stand to pay for drinks.  They are so deprived.

KJ ordered for everyone.

And paid with his very own card.

He took the whole thing very seriously.

And was thrilled about getting to deliver a treat to Daddy at work, too.

I love that spending his Bible bucks this way made him so happy.  It was so much fun to watch and made me so proud.  It was a perfect example of how seriously he takes his job of loving his family, especially his brothers and sister.

As he is about to become the BIGGEST of four siblings, I think this was a perfect rite-of-passage. 
Taking his whole family out for Sonic drinks.
His treat.

But actually, the treat was all mine!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wedding weekend

A piece of me will always picture him this way.  The littlest cowboy that followed us around, that stood at the door and cried when we left him behind, that was gullible enough to believe some of our antics.

Then we blinked.  And he grew up.  He grew into this handsome man, this strong yet tender-hearted Air Force hero that I am so proud to call my brother.  There's no one in the world like him, and I was tempted to believe there would be no one in the world good enough to marry him.

But it turns out, I was wrong.
On a day we'll never forget, my brother and I that once tortured him, were privileged to stand as witnesses as RRL performed the ceremony of this amazing couple.  AND I GOT ANOTHER SISTER!  YAY!

We were all in the wedding. 
Two ring bearers, a flower girl, a (very pregnant) bridesmaid and the "minister" for the ceremony.

And it made it all the sweeter that my other brother and my sister-in-law were part of the "party" as well.

DandD were so sweet to include our kiddos in a special way, despite their young age and short attention span.  So we worked hard to keep them entertained through all of the festivities.
Rock paper scissors
And a new invention...hand tag
(some quick mom thinking when my boys thought it would be fun to run through all of the wedding guests playing "tag" lead to this game that at least kept them all in one place for a little while).  Thanks to Aunt S for joining in.

And THEN we got to celebrate.
We celebrated with DANCING!
(love D's "party shirt" that was hiding under his dress uniform)

(which obviously, neither of the boys enjoyed one bit...sorry rented tuxedos)

Baby C cooperated, too, and let us make it through the wedding without being too "eventful", but by the end of it, this was about all I had left.  I wish RRL could have carried me to bed, too, Lou. 

I can't believe Lt D is married!  But I'm so thankful for the bride he chose.  There has been a lot to take pride in as he has accomplished much over the years, but this was one of his shining moments.  What a joy and privilege to get to be part of it.


Monday, April 16, 2012

38 weeks and (not)Counting

If this was Cbug, he would have been born 8 days ago.

If this was KJ, we would have about twelve more days to wait.

If this was Lou, the stinker would wait another SEVENTEEN DAYS. Ugh.

BUT...this is CTL.  And already he is his very own person.  So we have no idea when he will debut.
Every night I go to sleep is like the anticipation of Christmas Eve...only you never know WHEN you'll actually wake up to Christmas and the gifts it is bringing.

Sweet C baby, there are lots of hands ready to hold you...hope you are ready for this craziness!


*Just in case anyone is tempted to comment about how "small" I am at 38 weeks, I went ahead and posted the quite unflattering picture of RRL with his arms literally stretched out ALL.THE.WAY to be able to reach around me.  But, thanks all the same.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nehemiah: First Fruits

I love that this is a place to document sentimental happenings for our family.  I've described before, though, that there is some danger in leaving an impression that these sweet moments are our WHOLE life, or represent how I feel ALL the time.

Today, I just need to be real.

Because lately:
I am a little tired.
I am a little grumpy.
I am a little short with my children.
I would prefer to put on a movie for them and rest.

No, really. (and maybe we should remove some of the a little 's).

Last night, after taking all 3 of my angels (cough, cough) into a tuxedo store to try on the boys' tuxedos, I was MAXED.  In the course of an hour I had to discipline two of them for not obeying and one for pitching a huge fit, not to mention wrestling two squirming boys into and out of tuxedos.  To be honest, despite the fact that they needed some redirection, I was parenting out of my own frustration.  Again.  We got back in the van and I cranked up some silly songs for them and started praying for my heart and theirs.  (Yep, it actually is possible to pray to the tune of "Willoughby walliby wee, An elephant sat on me, Willoughby walliby woo, an elephant sat on you".  Its a mom skill.)

Wouldn't you know it, the Lord directed my thoughts back to a lesson from Nehemiah.  Of course He did.  Its like He knows me or something. CRAZY.

When we were in the midst of our party-of-eight craziness, there were certain lessons that jumped off of the pages in Nehemiah to me.  Like screamed at me.  But the studying wasn't always that way.  There were times I would have to camp out on a verse or section and really spend more time thinking and praying through its meaning for me, right now.

When I got to the list of "old testament rules" in chapter 10, I took a deep breath and made myself read through them and think about them.  One that was particularly challenging and relevant at the time, the Lord brought back to me last night.

Nehemiah 10:35 "We take responsibility for delivering annually to The Temple of God the firstfruits of our crops and our orchards" 

Nope, haven't been doing a lot of farming lately.  But the lesson is one I was in great need of remembering this week.  The lesson is about what God requests from me.  As I initially processed through the idea of "firstfruits", I found myself wondering why it really is that God wants me to give my first, my best.  Does HE really need that from me?  I really believe that even in my days of half-hearted parenting, when I speak in a way I wish I hadn't, when I just don't have the energy to walk to the park AGAIN, when I count the hours until bedtime, He is able to fill in the gaps.  But is that all He wants for us?  Maybe part of the reason he requires my firstfruits is because of what it will show ME.  Maybe he can only teach me when I choose to give my best so that he can restore me.

The clearest illustration in the Bible, a tangible one, is of a widow.  A widow that Elijah asks for bread.  Giving him bread would mean sharing the very last bits of oil and flour that she had, yet Elijah promised her that if she gave it to him, her oil and flour WOULD NOT run out.  She not only gave her was actually her very last.  And as a result, she experienced a miracle.  She experienced a refilling that I doubt she ever forgot.

I'm no where NEAR my last bits, never had to actually consider giving my very last to someone else, so the faith of this widow is astounding to me.  And I can the Lord show me the miracle of replenishing my supply, if I don't give to HIM (by giving to others) my FIRST and best.  RRL and I have marveled over and over again that so much about our lives was refilled when we felt like we were pouring out.  It shouldn't have been possible to survive with 6 kids under 5.  There should not have been enough time, enough money, enough patience, enough love, ENOUGH.  But there always was.  More than enough, actually.

The story in 1 Kings and the verse in Nehemiah were incredibly linked to me and the lesson seemed life (and attitude) changing. And yet I find myself there again.  Needing to be reminded, that if I meet all of my own needs first, if I dwell in the excuse of exhaustion, or feel entitled to be grumpy before I ask Him to help me meet the needs of can I give him Glory for working in my life.  What vessel will ever available to "refill" if I'm not pouring it out? 

This week, I found myself actually saying to some friends "I am NOT a nice mom right now.  And I think I'm probably just going to be this way for at least a few more weeks".  It was supposed to be funny.  I am 38-weeks-pregnant. 

I am a little tired.
I am a little grumpy.
I am a little short with my children.
I would prefer to put on a movie for them and rest.

And all of that feels pretty justified in the last days of pregnancy and with the crazy few months we've had.  Everyone GETS that I'm tired, slow and low on patience. In and of myself, that really is all I've got.  But WOW, that's not where I want to stay. I'm not saying that its not reasonable to take things easier in the last couple of weeks of waiting on baby C. And I am by no means saying there can not or will not be tough days in parenting. I'm just saying I want to start CHOOSING to ask the Lord to refill me instead of settling for "this is all I've got".

I want to give Him (by giving them) my very best. 
Because if I don't
I believe He can still redeem these days and help us raise children that will love and serve Him. 

But if I don't
What vessel do I pass across the table for Him to use?
What miracle will I miss seeing and what opportunity will I miss to get to share His great GLORY with others. 

He can use whatever I offer.  But he asks for my best, some days it is what feels like my last.

So today I'm praying that I'll be able to give:
Energy when it feels like there is not much left. 
Patience when it would be easier to react hastily.
A few extra hugs and snuggles and kisses when I don't even really want to be touched.

Because THAT is my firstfruits.  And I don't want any of us to miss an opportunity to watch  "oil and flour" be miraculously refilled.
over. and over. and over.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hope of Easter

I can't think of a better word to describe Easter than Hope.

I love that we heard in the sermon this weekend that hope is different than optimism.  Optimism would say "it is not that bad".  Hope says sometimes it IS that bad, but the death and resurrection of Jesus means it won't ALWAYS be this way.  I love the bold authenticity of that statement.   

There is not much more that I want for my children and for my niece and nephews than that they will claim that same hope. 

I pray they will all look back on times that were confusing, that we simply couldn't explain to them, that we wished were different and see the glimmers of HOPE that penetrated every day. 

I hope they believe, like RRL and I do, that someday Christ WILL come to take us home and we will experience SUNDAY to the fullest.  But I also pray that they see Sunday moments along the way.  That they experience HOPE everyday. 

And a Sunday moment for me was definitely getting to celebrate Easter with this little crew.  It wasn't easy, but there were amazing glimpses of Christ's presence and power in the situation as we spent a few days with our nephews and niece.

It was filled with HOPE.