The Family

The Family

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Believe in Jesus

He spoke four words.

It started as a conversation about what seemed like nothing at the time. Then it turned in to questions about Jesus. That's when he said, “I believe in Jesus.”

What do you say in return to a son that has spoken some of the most important words he’s ever said.

I didn't want to mess up the moment with careless words spoken in haste, so I said nothing.

That's because nothing was more important than what he had just said.

My heart and eyes welled up with tears of joy as I hugged him.

Ever since I read the book “Together: Growing Appetites for God” by Carrie Ward, I had been asking for God to open all of our hearts to his presence.

I knew this was one of those moments.

They were four words spoken at bedtime when he's most willing to pour out his heart.

It's made me think twice about shushing him to get to sleep. Who knows what else he wants to tell me?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Life Well Lived

One of the only news programs I watch is CBS Sunday morning. You could say that it has become a Sunday morning fixture in our home. If I don't turn it on, the hubby will.

I began watching this program in graduate school when a professor encouraged us to tune in. It's a fantastic show about culture: pop culture, high culture, and low culture.

As many of my students can tell you, I often show clips from this show in class to demonstrate points I want to make. I sometimes show a clip in hopes that their young minds will experience the thrill of understanding that life is often best lived when they make choices based on their interests and passions rather than money or expectations.

This morning, one of the profiles was a piece that aired on 60 Minutes a few years back. It was shown again today because the man in the story, Herb Vogel, recently passed away.

While his name is probably not recognizable, his story is worth sharing. It's a tender story about a couple that lived their life dedicated to hard work, a passion for art and each other.;lst;1

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Pink Piano

It wasn’t what we set out to find.

We went antique shopping today looking for a headboard for the little boy’s bedroom.  We plan to change his truck-themed room into a dinosaur-themed room for his upcoming birthday. In an effort to get him to sleep more in his own bed, we’ve decided to get him a full-size bed (one that provides enough room for one parent to help him fall asleep). I’m on the hunt for something dark and classic that he can use throughout the years.

We had no luck with the bed, but did find something completely unexpected. 

This miniature pink piano

The instant I saw it I knew it was perfect.

Perfect for her size.

Perfect for her room.

Perfect for a baby girl that loves to dance to the music.

As soon as we got it home both children began banging away on the keys. I was in another room and could hear them laughing at the sounds and each other.

This glorious melody of music and laughter filled our home with its sweet rhythm.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Birthday Bash

I've got to start assigning someone to camera duty.

I have so few pictures from holidays and birthdays because I ALWAYS forget to take any.

Baby girl's birthday party last weekend was no exception. I have no pictures of her with family or friends. I have no images of the festivities or colorful flowers on each table. I have nothing of her opening presents:(

Thankfully, my mind was clear enough before everyone arrived to know I would forget to take pictures. I managed to snap a few shots of the fabulous cupcakes and smash cake my sister-in-law, my youngest brother's wife, made.

Unfortunately for baby girl, a dairy allergy kept her from digging into the cake. Her brother had a milk allergy as well at that age, but outgrew it around two. I'm hoping the same will happen for her, and she'll be able to enjoy one of her aunt's homemade cakes next year!

I also got a shot of the birthday girl before everyone arrived.

Thank goodness for my brother. He found my camera right before we lit the candle and took some pics of her in her cute birthday hat and bloomers:)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Think She's Teething

I've been saying "I think she's teething" for six months now.

No new teeth have come in.

She cut those two cute bottom teeth around the six-month mark, but nothing since.

When she doesn't sleep well at night I usually say it to my husband first thing the next morning.

When she's ill, I'll ask anyone that might be standing nearby, "I wonder if her gums are bothering her?"

Anytime a family member is around and she puts anything in her mouth, which is a lot, I hear "She must be cutting another tooth."

Last night was a rough night. She woke at least seven times.

She's got to be teething????

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Busy September

If all goes according to schedule, it looks like we'll be on the road a lot in September.

We have plans to spend Labor Day weekend with my husband's grandparents. They've only seen baby girl in person one time, so they can't wait for us to come down.

A few weeks after that, the children and I will be going with my mother-in-law to hear Jimmy Carter preach.

Ever since we went to Mount Rushmore a couple months back, the little boy has a new obsession fascination: presidents.

We are reading a series of books on each president. His favorite, like most kids, is Abraham Lincoln.  He is constantly drawing pictures of the presidents and asking others non-stop questions to test their presidential knowledge. He even has president flash cards that he lines up in the correct order (I told you it was an obession fascination).
When my mother-in-law mentioned that hearing President Carter preach might be something the little boy would get a kick out of, I jumped at the chance.

I'm not sure he'll find it as exciting as it seems now once he realizes it is church, and he has to be quiet. And I'm beginning to wonder if I'll get to even hear any of the sermon because I'll be doing my best to keep a baby quiet.

Nonetheless, I can't wait to go. It's not everyday you get the chance to be in the same room as a former U.S. president!

After that adventure, we want to head to D.C. at month's end. What better place for someone with an obsession fascination for presidents to go than our nation's capital.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

House Matters

It’s a conversation the hubby and I have had numerous times since buying this house six years ago.

Should we stay or should we sell?

For the past two years, I've repeated more times than he cares to hear that I think we might as well stay put for the long haul. I’ve had a hard time reconciling that selling, at least selling anytime in the near future, means we would walk away with a substantial loss.

“We’ll make this house into what we want it to be,” has been my constant refrain.

I also don’t like the idea of starting over on a 30-year mortgage.

Despite this, I have many moments when the desire for more, more, more clouds my thoughts.

Maybe you know what I mean: Bigger is better. Bigger means we have more money (or we can at least create the illusion we do). Daily life would be more enjoyable if we lived in a neighborhood that had a pool or friendlier neighbors. 

On and on it goes until I work myself into a frenzy. I start looking at real estate magazines and inputting numbers into an online mortgage calculator to figure out how much we could spend. I always end up going much higher than we actually could afford.

I know this thinking is false, but I so easily fall into the trap of trying to make something happen that isn't supposed to happen.

The real truth is that a bigger house means more cleaning, more stress related to a higher mortgage payment and less money to travel. None of those are things I truly desire.

That all-important inner voice that guides me is not leading me to a new home.

So why do I still find myself envious of those that live in certain neighborhoods or have 4,000 square feet homes or have nannies and maids to help around the house?

As my dad told me yesterday when I was fretting about something entirely different: “You care too much about what other people think.”

He’s right.

My whole life I have struggled with this.

It’s the reason I find myself desiring a different home when the one we lay down in every night is more than suitable. 

That's why tonight, I’m reminding myself of some important things.

This is the house I brought both my children home to as newborns. This is the house where we celebrated the first birthday for both of them. This is the house that my husband and I have laughed in, loved in, fought in. This is the house whose walls know all our secrets. This is the house that provides shelter and warmth, not just in its insulation and structure, but through the love that resides in it.

This is the house that holds my best memories, and I am more content at this time in my life than I can ever remember.

Why would I desire anything more?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A New Look

It was a pleasant June Day.

The sun was high overhead, but the humid air we often associate with June was missing. The heat wave had not yet hit, and it was a glorious Saturday morning for family photos.

We met in the parking lot of the arboretum. Emmie, the photographer, had been scouting the area and decided to start at another location.

She had come across a corn field that seems oddly out of place considering its location is at the edge of a college campus. It is likely a testing field for agriculture students. In a few months the field will be gone and a sea of campers full of tailgaters will replace it.

That morning, the field was her canvas.

Emmie captured some creative and beautiful pictures of our family.

She did eventually get us to the arboretum where she was able to capture the playfulness of the hubby and children.

Travels with Children's new look is all courtesy of her amazing images!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Birthday Girl

I breathe in your sweet scent.

I chuckle at your enormous laugh.

I cherish your tender hugs. 

There’s so much love in my heart I feel at times as if it might burst.

You, my beautiful daughter, will be a year old tomorrow.

Your brother, your protector, loves you more than I think you could possibly know. He sometimes cries when you are upset out of fear you are hurt. The idea that his baby sister could be in pain or is scared is more than he can stand.

Even at four, he wants you to know you can always run to him for comfort. His love will someday teach you how a real man SHOULD treat you.

You make your father smile in a way that words don’t adequately describe. Sheer delight registers on his face each time he walks through the door and you reach for him. For a man, nothing makes his heart swell more than knowing he is his daughter's true love.

There is so much I want to tell you, so much I want to share. Most of that will wait.

For now you are too young to know about mean girls, bad boys, insecurity and the disappointments life will scatter along your path.

For now you are the daughter that loves to sleep beside me. You are the precious babe that showers me with kisses. You are the girl that loves to bounce up and down in my arms to the music.

Oh daughter, the flesh of my flesh. You are my joy. You are my love. You are my precious gift from above.

Please know you are beautiful.

Please know you are a blessing.

Please know you are loved by God.

Please know you are and always will be good enough exactly the way you are.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Uncle and Me

Each tried to outdo the other.

My brother told a story. The little man followed with a story of his own. Then it was my brother again, followed by another story from the little man.

This went on for at least an hour. It likely continued well after that, but I had to get a baby to sleep and missed whatever followed.

This was bonding in a way that can’t be planned or scheduled. The memory of last night will stick with both.

My middle brother lives in Texas, and we don’t get to see him much because of the distance. The little man has been around him only a handful of times.

It was a delight for me to watch and listen to my son talk so openly and play so freely with my brother.

They asked each other questions. They laughed at what the other said, even when it wasn’t funny. They got to know each other.

That made up for a lot of distance.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Writer's Block

It happens to everyone at some point.

You want to write. You feel you have something to say. Then you sit at the computer trying to type something meaningful. You start over for what seems like the hundredth time. You walk away in frustration. You take a break. You try to brainstorm.

Nothing helps.

I’ve been trying for days to come up with a post, but I’ve got nothing.

What better way to combat writer’s block than to write about the exact thing making one not write: writer’s block.

I know I’m rambling. That’s part of writer’s block.

I know this is short. That’s also part of writer’s block.

I know this says nothing at all. That’s the most obvious sign of writer’s block.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

CSA Wednesday

This was our last week for the spring/summer CSA pick-ups. We hope to participate in this program again in the fall. I almost forgot to take pictures today. I put everything in the fridge before remembering.
We've got watermelon galore

Not too sure about this fennel - it smells and supposedly tastes like licorice. Seeing as no one in this house is a big licorice fan, we may not be eating this

Blurry photo of more onions

We did get more eggs, but I figured I posted enough pictures of those.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Morning Walks

We know this path well.

It winds around our neighborhood and many days were spent pushing a stroller along this stretch trying to lull a baby boy to sleep.

As he grew we began to make our way through the neighborhood with a push toy or wagon.

I don't know when or why we stopped, but we did.

We recently found our way back to these walks. This time he is walking beside me while his baby sister sits in the stroller. He wants to walk barefoot, so we spend a lot of time dodging tiny pebbles that pierce feet.

It feels good to be outside in the early morning hours before the air becomes so hot you can barely breathe.

This simple and familiar route has become a refreshing way to begin the long summer day.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wise Women

There's nothing quite as valuable as getting advice from women who have done things well, especially when it comes to raising their children.

Three such women I've never met have been strong anchors for my soul in the past few weeks.

Carrie Ward's book "Together: Growing Appetites for God" was an inspiration. She and her four children are on their third read-through of the Bible.

It's taken years, but her story proves it can be done.

Before you begin to think that she must be supermom, she dispels that notion quickly. As a child, she was a struggling reader. Before she began to read the Bible with her children, she had failed numerous times to read it on her own (sound familiar anyone?). She also made it clear that there were many days when she felt like they weren't getting it. She kept at it and God revealed himself in so many ways through their readings.

I heard Carrie speaking a few months back on a radio program called "Revive Our Hearts." The host, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is another wise woman that helps guide so many women through life by turning them to God's word and the message of the Gospel.

I first came across the radio program about five years ago. To be honest, my initial impression of Nancy was that she was too prudish and her message was outdated. I kept listening despite these presumptions, and I'm glad I did.

Not only was I wrong in my thinking regarding her, but wrong in my thinking about how God calls us to live. Even though times have changed, God's ways have not.

Last week Revive Our Hearts aired a program called "Entrusted With a Child's Heart." The advice and wisdom provided by the numerous women Nancy spoke with throughout the week were uplifting.

One of the best pieces of advice came from a woman that said her husband used to get the entire family to sit together and talk about the day for 15 minutes after dinner. The woman described how she resisted at first because she felt she was too busy and still had too much to do at the end of the day. Throughout time, she began to realize how those 15 minutes were some of the most intimate moments of the day.

Now that three of her six children are teenagers, she said that tradition has continued and it often goes much longer than 15 minutes. Her husband realized the value of keeping the lines of communication open, and as a result, their children's hearts are still turned toward their parents at what is often a tumultuous stage of life.

Sally Clarkson is another wise and calming voice that I find myself drawn to. I first heard about Sally on the blog Home With The Boys. I've read some things by Sally and a few months ago stumbled across her blog, I Take Joy. Her daily advice on child rearing is indispensable.

All of these wise women help this momma stay focused on the things that truly matter.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

CSA Wednesday

Each Wednesday we pick up goodies at a local farm as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got today:

Plenty of melons!

Cherry Tomatoes

Happy 4th Everyone

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Questions from a 4-year-old boy

A co-worker asked me several months ago if the little boy ever asked funny questions.

I couldn't think of a single example.

Not because he doesn't ask funny questions, but because I couldn't remember.

For years I've been saying I should write down some of the things he asks and says. Last week, I finally got around to doing it.

Here are some of the wacky, insightful, funny questions that came from him:

1. Why is it called Giganotosaurus?

2. What number is Abraham Lincoln? (Me: 16) Is that a 6 and a 1?

3. What's a hare? (We were listening to the story of The Tortoise and The Hare on cd)

4. Mommy, is a hair follicle right here?

5. Why does that show a picture of a tummy? (This question came while looking at an Activia yogurt container)

6. Why do stoves always get hot?

7. Does Target have everything?

8. Where does cantaloupe come from?

9. How do we make a dinosaur out of Play-Doh?

10. Did George Washington have a sword?

11. Did somebody else make God?

12. Is Ella 3 today?

13. Mommy, do God can eat a whole pizza?

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Today was a day to be inside.

The temperature here read 103 degrees at one point.

Even though we were indoors, it was warm everywhere we went.

In church this morning we had one service. Considering our church ususally has 4-5 services every Sunday, the sanctuary was packed.

We sat in the balcony, and it was toasty up there. Everywhere I looked people were fanning themselves with the church bulletin.

After church we went to eat, and I couldn't get enough to drink. As soon as we finished lunch we strolled down to a corner store for some lemonade.

We then loaded into the sweltering car and headed to the movie theater.

I'd decided earlier in the week to wait until today to go see the movie "Brave."  I usually like taking the children to a movie on a Tuesday for the $1.50 coke and popcorn deal, but we didn't have time earlier in the week. Plus, going on a Sunday meant the hubby could go with us and it would be a family movie day.

After seeing the movie trailer, I assumed this was another twist on a young girl challenging authority and asserting her independence.

It was so much better than that.

The plot began in that direction, but later turned into a touching mother-daughter relationship story.

In fact, the moral of this story centered around family bonds and the deception of living for and being too wrapped up in one's self.

Although I was sweating throughout most of the movie (the air was not working well and baby girl was asleep in my lap almost the whole movie), it was a terrific movie for a hot summer day.