Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fancy Maddux

The kids' school holds an "I Love A Book" parade for the first graders on Halloween each year. Eli chose Mr. Popper's Penguins two years ago, and this year Maddux chose Fancy Nancy.

This seems like a no-brainer, as Maddux dresses like Fancy Nancy pretty much every day, but we actually struggled with her costume. She did a fantastic job drawing, coloring, and writing on her book ends (to be worn the day of the parade), but when it came to picking clothing and accessories, Maddux wanted to be a bit conservative. In fact, I remember a rather heated discussion between Maddux and Daddy regarding sunglasses: Maddux was dead-set against them. And her choices of clothing all blended together, much unlike her daily clothing choices. Go figure!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Traditions

We don't have many. Really just one that is out of the ordinary: the Litte 5 Points Halloween Parade. It is a bit more 'adult' than you might expect for something we would attend. Especially because we are so strict with TV and movies, but it's something we've done as a family every year since Eli was 1 year old. And (to date) the kids have never been scared by it!

This year was Ruby's worries about her fear level yet; we'll check in again next year. The kids like to dress up for the parade now, and it's a good chance to test drive their costumes. Maddux was a pink butterfly-ish thing, Eli was Abe Lincoln (but we didn't get the beard to work for the parade), and Ruby was a ladybug. The kids had a blast and Ruby's checked off another first family tradition.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Thinking Back

I've been thinking a lot lately about when Ruby was born. The labor, the delivery, the hours after, and then the after-after.  So many emotions, so many frozen moments, so many realizations. One thing I keep coming back to, again and again, is our reaction. I don't have any regrets or bad feelings about our reaction, as I know our initial disbelief and grief is to be expected,  But I have been analyzing (or over-analyzing, as Lehr would say) it lately.

The more I think about it, I have come to realize that our reaction had everything to do with us and nothing to do with Ruby. I think this is something that would be true for any parent receiving unexpected news about their child. Even those that expect a boy and get a girl, or vice versa. The news is not necessarily bad, but when it goes against our expectations, we feel confused. As if we were somehow in control of the outcome.

To me it seems as though my expectation of what Ruby would or wouldn't be was a way of me saying "this is what my family should look like". I imagine God looking at me and shaking his head as He chuckles. Not In a spiteful way, as if to "show me " with His ultimate plan. Rather, in a loving way. Just as a parent would shake their head and chuckle when their child piled a plate full of cookies for dinner. That's the thing about God. Sometimes we may think He isn't giving us what we want. But what we, what I, need to remember is that He always gives us what we need. My family needed Ruby. I needed Ruby. I'm so glad He gave me what I needed!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Precious Mad Dog

Oh that girl. Let me count the ways in which she rocks. I have been realizing more and more over the last few months how amazing that girl is. Even though I usually just comment on her 'crazy', her amazing spirit and helpful heart are definitely her biggest qualities.

A year or two back we received a book as a gift that was full of prayers sealed in tiny envelopes. We read it with the kids a few times, but honestly it has sat on the shelf for some time. Quite frankly, getting the prayers in and out of the envelopes is a tricky process and I ended up stressing out and pestering the kids more often then not during storytime. (Didn't want to rip the papers and ruin the book.) So much for fun story time, so away the book went.

About a week ago, said books surfaced again. Seemingly out of nowhere, it appeared at Maddux's bedtime.  Lehr read the book with her. On the last page is a slightly larger envelope and blank paper.  The page directed the reader to write a small prayer to God on there. We never got that far in the book when we used to read it.  But as Lehr got to that page and opened the envelope, he found that Maddux had been reading that book and wrote her own prayer. Amazing. And her prayer could not have been more encouraging. I love that with no direction, and not even during the holiday time of year, she thought to talk to God honestly about Christmas.

Thank You God,
I love the presents but I know that you are more important to me and I know your birthday is on that day.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Perfect Gentleman

Yesterday Eli made my day. Maybe my week or month too. I already included this in my Honor post, but had to elaborate a little.

I woke up to feed Ruby at 7 and then went outside to workout when she was done. Just before I finished, Eli came out to say good morning...we chatted for a few minutes and asked if I would eat with him when I was done: "Mommy, can we sit and eat, just you and me?" I told him to let me shower first, but definitely; I would love to eat breakfast with him. On my way up to the shower he asked if I knew what cereal I wanted and I told him Cheerios. Never thought anything of it...

Fast forward fifteen minutes later when I come downstairs and Eli yells out, "Close your eyes, Mom!" I do so and he leads me to the table. I open my eyes and see a mug with cheerios and banana in it (my favorite combination and my boy knows that I eat cereal out of a mug), a bowl with cut up green apple, and some PB (two more of my faves). My jaw drops. He set up a little 'date' for us. The best part? He also had a little note next to my food that said, "I love you! Love, Eli"

For about ten minutes, Eli and I got to sit and chat about nothing. And he asked me how my breakfast was, and if I liked what he put out for me and it was perfection. He even got a little upset when Maddux came down about halfway through and tried to join us. Even though our date only lasted about ten minutes, you better believe I'll be holding on to that moment for a long time.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


What an amazing morning. I got up with Ruby just before the rest of the family today. After I fed her, I left her in bed with Lehr and went out side to grab a quick workout. Just before I finished, Eli came outside with me. He wanted to eat cereal with me, just me. I told him I had to grab a quick shower first, but then I'd be right back downstairs.  He said, "what kind of cereal do you think you're going to have, Mommy?" I told him Cheerios and a banana, and then went upstairs. When I came back down, Eli told me to close my eyes and then he walked me to the table. Set out perfectly was a mug with Cheerios and milk, and an apple sliced with peanut butter, his mug and cereal, napkins, spoons, and a small little note that read "I love you mom ".  Insert my jaw hitting the floor. We proceeded to have a great little breakfast together for 10 minutes or so. Just me and my little man.

Fast forward an hour later when we get to church and the kids go into their worship set. As our first service of the month started, we quickly found out that the virtue for October is honor. It was quite easy to show kids examples of honor later that day. Eli's was a no-brainer. Maddux had a good one recently also. The day we returned home from the beach, she rushed upstairs and drew a great picture for the family we traveled with. She added some words to say thank you, and ask if we could deliver right a way. I asked her why she made them a thank you note, and she told me it was to thank them for sharing the trip/time with us.

My kids rock.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Beach Trip 2013

This year's trip was slightly different than ones in years past, in more ways than one. The first being that we had a not-yet-four month old with us. We went to the beach with Maddux when she was little too, but Eli was still little, so it didn't feel so foreign. These days, our kids are so self-sufficient when it comes to eating, sleeping, swimming, biking, etc.....going back to having to physically hold a child the whole time felt very new. That being said, Ruby was AWESOME....not fussy at all and even slept a full eleven hours one night!

Another new aspect of this trip was the family we went with. Eli's best friend, and a family that has become our good friends, traveled with us. They have three kids too. That's right, we had four adults and SIX kids, ages 8, 8, 6, 6, 3 and 4months for six days. Kelly (the other mom) and I discussed this at great length ahead of time and prepared ourselves for inevitable meltdowns and arguing and other typical kid stuff. We also tried to prepare ourselves to just let some stuff go (we are both a bit Type A when it comes to our kids). Maybe it was because we set the bar so low, but we were very pleasantly surprised at how well the week went! There were some meltdowns, and there was some disobedience, but all in all, everyone got along really well and was pretty well behaved!

One more new thing was the element of surprise. Our kids knew we were going to the beach, but the other family's kids did not. And NONE of them knew we'd be together. We have two other families we've traveled with in the past, but neither could make this trip. I told the kids that since the houses are so big and we usually share with 1-2 other families, we may be 'assigned' a sharing family this time. (I had them convinced that they don't rent out houses for just one family.) So we talked manners and whatnot beforehand. About ten minutes after we arrived, I called the kids downstairs because the other family had arrived and we needed to greet them. Talk about excitement! Their kids burst out of the car and Eli couldn't stop saying, "DREW!!" Good times.

The week was a possible wash as a hurricane was approaching the beach just as we were, but we were very blessed to only have one partially rainy day. The rest of the days were sunny and gorgeous! The older boys mostly did boogie boarding each day (lots of waves thanks to the hurricane), Maddux and Davis and Emmaline swam but also built many sand creations. Ruby slept and ate. She did get her toes wet several times, and she sat in the sand a lot also.

Awesome times at the beach, great company, and memories to last a lifetime....we had a great trip!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

These Are The Days

I'm about to brag here. Not about my parenting, not about the kids, but about the experience we had today. I often blog about our crazy times and our not-so-good times; I'm very excited to blog about the good times also.

My main reason in posting this blog is to 'pay forward' family time ideas. When I am struggling with my parenting or in a rut with family stuff, I am often looking to other blogs for ideas or parenting gems. Not that I consider anything we did today a 'gem ', but hopefully it will give an idea to another family.

Today was the first day back to school after a week break. The kids woke up happy and gave Lehr minimal backtalk during their morning. It was National Walk To School Day. Lehr was a great sport and let them ride their bikes. (It should be said that I would not have let them do that, simply because I'm a stick in the mud.) Them riding their bikes meant that I would have to deal with the riding bikes home part on my own. I told the kids to ride the bus home and we would figure it out from there. They got off of the bus and Ruby and I were ready to go, stroller and all. I told them we would be walking to school and they would ride their bikes home. That would normally produce some groans: Neither one absolutely loves walking for the sake of walking. Not only did they not complain, but they both cheered.  

The walk and ride whore uneventful, except for Nagging Mom calling after them on their bikes to watch out and stop and stay to the side. Once home we started on homework. Some whining from Eli regarding one of his assignments, but all in all pretty uneventful. I even managed to feed Ruby, make dinner, put Ruby down for a nap, and still have food on the table when Lehr arrived. 

Dinner was one of my favorite dishes, but it's no one the kids consistently like. However, when I told them what we were having, more cheering. I had them both set the table and prayer cards.

Sidebar: I started prayer cards about a month ago. I made four cards out of foam paper, each with a letter on it spelling out ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). We each have one at our plate at dinner to indicate what part of the prayer is our 'part'. The kids have done really well with this. I first brought the ACTS prayer to them several years ago, but it fizzled out quickly. This time it stuck. 

I asked Eli to pass out the cards, which resulted in some complaints from Maddux over not getting the card she wanted. That resolves quickly and we went on to have a great dinner. We had our prayer and then ate dinner with both kids complimenting my cooking and talking voluntarily about their day. Then I brought up a few things I wanted to start with them surrounding dinner and they both were involved in the conversation AND excited. The first thing I told them I wanted to do is have one of them help me make a dinner from start to finish once/week. We talked about possible dinner ideas and they both got really excited. The second thing I want to start is a once a week family Bible study at dinner. I told them that we would take turns each week. When it is Eli's week, he chooses the story, he chooses the Bible (we have several), he chooses the presentation.... Same goes when it is Maddux's turn, or Lehr's turn, or my turn. They can make it as big or little as they want. Of course, they were talking props and all, because they have such amazing lessons at church. 

At this point, Maddux asked if we could read the family rules. (I ordered a large family plaque a few months ago that hangs in our eating area.) Not only did Maddux want to read them, but Eli did as well. What? Reading rules about obedience AND cooperation in doing so? Crazy.... Then we cleaned up dinner and even had time for a quick bike ride.

It may sound like a very normal, boring night, but for us it was epic. Yes, epic. We sometimes have one or two of the above 'events' happen in a night, but never all of them. NEVER. No major arguments. No bickering. No timeouts. Happy family conversation. Faithful plans. Joy and Happiness. Epic.