Wednesday, November 26

feeling thankful...

I am thankful that I was raised in a home knowing Jesus and that Jason was a state away being raising the same.  I am thankful for our Moms and Jason's Dad who are responsible for delivering the message of Jesus to us and modeling what it means to think outside of our own desires and put others first.

I am thankful that my marriage is the best thing in my life.  I am thankful that Jason and I just work.  We can't get enough of each other and we make an amazing team.  I am thankful that our babies will never know what it's like to be a child of divorce.

I am thankful that Jason, our kids, and I all have five working senses.  I am thankful that we can run, jump, and play to our hearts content.  I am thankful that allergies are our biggest health concerns right now.

I am thankful that God actually gave us 3 daughters after I spent most of my childhood proclaiming my dream of having 3 girls just like my Momma.  I am thankful that He knows me better than I know myself and gave me a son as a bonus.  He knew I needed Tyson.

I am thankful for a hard working husband which affords me the luxury of being a stay at home Momma to our four precious babies.

I am thankful for a hard working Momma who raised my sisters and I by herself.  I can't imagine how tough it was for her and we did not make it easy but she did her very best and never gave up on us.

I am thankful for old friends.  The ones that you don't see or talk to for months or even years and then pick right back up where you left off.  It's a wonderful thing and I am blessed to have several that fit this description.  They know me well and still love me.

I am thankful for new friends that pull me out of my comfort zone and help me grow as a Christ follower, wife, mother, and woman.

I am thankful for a church that delivers God's word in a relevant and real way that causes me to think deeper.  I am thankful that God has given me a strong desire to honor Him through my words and actions and His grace for when I fail.

I am thankful for public schools with awesome teachers where our kids have an opportunity to be a light.  I am thankful that God continues to bless them at school and reminds me often why He wants them there.

I am thankful that I have a camera to record precious memories and sweet faces that are growing and changing constantly.  I am thankful for photos to remind me of how unbelievably beautiful my life is.

I am thankful that our kids have grandparents that love and adore them and want to spend time with them.

I am thankful for little glimpses of our kids actually internalizing the never ending unconditional love of a Heavenly Father.

I am thankful that my Grandma is still with us and that even though she forgets who I am at times, she still finds a way to make me feel special.  I am thankful that God has used her throughout my life to bring me encouragement and love when I need it the most.

I am thankful for my big sisters who would do anything for me and who I can talk to about anything and everything.

I am thankful for our nieces and nephew who mean so much to us and make us proud to be their aunt and uncle.

I am thankful for my sister-in-law who will listen to me go on and on about how crazy I am and all my mothering fails.  I love that she listens so well and also shares her own parenting struggles.  I am thankful that we can be real with each other and there is no judgement.  I am thankful that I always feel better after our conversations.

I am thankful that I can't relate to women talking about mother-in-laws that they don't get along with. I am thankful that I can genuinely say mine is one of my best friends.

I am thankful for friends and family that love on our babies, for those that also point them to Jesus.  It truly takes a village.  

I am thankful for a cozy home and a nice warm bed to sleep in at night.

And these are just all off the top of my head.  I could go on and on.  I am incredibly grateful for this life I don't deserve.

I can't wait to celebrate life with my family tomorrow.    

Friday, November 21

and i totally forgot.

Tyson got off the bus Tuesday afternoon with a paper crown on his head and a big ol' smile across his sweet face.  He ran to me calling out "Mommy, I'm star of the week!".  My natural reaction was to hug him and kiss that sweet face proclaiming my own happiness for this most exciting time in his little kindergarten life.

And then it hit me.  If he was star of the week that meant he was supposed to bring a poster full of pictures and a show and tell item to share with his class.  I knew this and I knew his week was November 17th but I forgot.  I completely and totally forgot that this was his week.  How could I do that?  He was clearly not upset about it but I sure was.  I live for that stuff, it's my job. It was my boy's special week to be the star and I didn't even realize.  I told him I was sorry that I forgot and we would get his poster ready right away so he could take it the next day.  He just said, "Yeah, I told my teacher I would bring it tomorrow.  It's okay."  It was clearly not an issue for him. Life would go on.  Whew.  We picked up some photos and poster board at the store that evening and I let him do whatever he wanted with his poster.  He glued 25 pictures to it covering almost every square inch except for a few empty spaces that he covered in hand drawn smiley faces and the letters of his name.  It was perfect.

I wrote his teacher apologizing for my forgetfulness.  She said she sends reminders home because it is easy to forget but somehow I had missed mine.  She assured me that it was not a big deal and told me that Tyson just giggled when she informed him that he was the star of the week.  He got to bring his poster and show and tell to school the next day and he was so excited to share it all with his class.  He also got to bring the class mascot, Peanut the penguin home with him for the week.  So fun.

Jason and I intentionally keep things simple in order to fully embrace this season of our life.  This gives us a chance to thrive but it still gets so overwhelming at times.  Four children feels like a million at times and having two in school this year has been a learning experience.  They are in two different buildings and the amount of paper that comes home is unreal along with all the projects, extra events, and homework.  It is a lot to keep up with.  Life was easier when they were tiny and all I had to do was make sure they were clean and fed.  Let's not even get into the reality that one day there will be four of them in school at once.  Yikes.  One day at a time.

But you can be sure I will never forget another week where my child is supposed to be the "star".

Thursday, November 20

say trick or treat

Avery and Tyson got to wear their costumes to school, Jason came home early from work, Aunt Beth came to visit, and the kids were super excited about all of it!  I was so thankful the rain stopped just in time and it wasn't too terribly cold.  

Mia was so happy to wear Avery's butterfly costume from several years ago mainly because it was purple and pink.

photo by Aunt Beth
Violet was so excited about being a giraffe in cousin Shane's old costume that has now made its way through all of our kids.

photo by Aunt Beth

Basically the first year that a kid begins to understand trick or treat is one of my favorite things.  Violet started off unsure of what was happening and quickly caught on after about two houses that people were giving away candy and all she had to do was look at them and open her bag.  We had worked on saying "trick or treat" over and over but she only said it for exactly one house.  Better than nothing I guess.  She had heard our manners talk with the big kids over and over that week so she remembered her thank yous at least.

She walked up the steep driveways on a mission.  She was so happy walking back down each time with a smile on her face and never failing to say "Daddy, yook, I have candy."  She said it every. single. time.  It was awesome.  I was giddy over the cuteness.  It was almost too much to handle.

Aunt Beth was all decked out in her orange and her gigantic cowgirl hat that the kids thought was great.

I just loved my view as we walked around, a little train of Judds.  Violet would hop on the back of the stroller between houses and then jump back off before Jason could even get it stopped.

I loved Tyson's little marathoner costume.  He was his Daddy's mini me.

It was great having Aunt Beth there because she is fun and we can always use an extra set of hands!

And this was probably my favorite photo of the night.

The little girls and I were out for about 45 minutes and the big ones lasted an hour.  They were excited to pass out candy then.  Violet even got into it.

I found it interesting this year that chocolate was by far the majority of the total candy stash.  We make our kids combine it all and they are still young enough to not make a case against it.  I love trick or treat night but the begging every hour for candy for days afterward makes me crazy so Jason and I took care of some rather quickly.  

We all had so much fun.  Thanks Aunt Beth for trick or treating with us this year.  We loved having you.  Maybe next year Violet will actually say "trick or treat" at more than one house.

Sunday, November 16

dear violet...

Dear Violet,

You are a big two year old now.  I am loving it.  I miss my squishy and needy baby girl but am embracing my independent, talkative, and still a little bit squishy two year old.  

You remember everything that has ever been said and it makes us laugh when you daily say something new.  You act much older than you are and we think that is just what happens to the baby of four.  You have begun saying things like "I have a dress on...but I don't" or "I can't see the airplane...but I can".  We used to call those "Mia-isms" because she was famous for those statements but now you have taken over.

You are feisty, spunky, and full of personality.  Everyone loves you and nobody likes to upset you.  Your temper can get out of control at times and keeps Mommy on her toes.  When you are told NO, you either continue to do what you are doing as if you didn't hear us or you immediately bust out the pouty lips and cry as if you are severely injured.

You already try to pick out your own clothes which makes me a bit crazy.  I am not ready to give up just yet.  Dressing you is too much fun for me and you are my last baby so give me a little more time, okay?

I wish we could have worked out an agreement when you first began sucking your thumb as a tiny baby.  You were supposed to do it more often then and decrease the thumb sucking as you got bigger but unfortunately it has been the complete opposite of that.  Your love that thumb and the cuteness has not worn off.  One of these days it will and we will desperately be researching ways to save those teeth of yours from complete ruin but for now, we will enjoy the view and I will take as many thumb sucking photos as I can to remember these precious days.

You have a new found love of playing "dress up" with Mia.  You want to wear leotards everyday just like she does.  You two are quite a pair.  You want to do everything exactly like she does but she makes you more mad than anyone.  You watch her closely though and it is obvious you love her as you mimic just about every move she makes.

You are still a serious Daddy's girl and I have a feeling that will never change.  You call for him when you wake up.  You let him comfort you when you get hurt and you are extremely excited to see him when he gets home from work.  He and I both pretty much think everything you do right now is amazing.  We love to just watch you in action.  The way you play is so precious and so big yet you are still so tiny and baby like to us.  We can't get enough of our baby Violet.

You are definitely a curious little thing and it's just another thing we love about you.  You want to see everything for yourself, feel it, hold it, taste it, and figure it out.  You had a fear of flies for a minute and you are easily startled by loud noises but are quite fearless overall.

You love to pretend to read books to us and will sit for a long time listening to us read to you.  You have your favorites that you want read over and over.  Currently, Little Quack and Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers are your favorites.

Your favorite question to ask us is "What's your favorite color?" but you don't believe our answers and will ask us over and over.  When you finally decide to accept our answer you will then ask us if we know what your favorite color is.  You say it's purple.

Your hair remains blonder than anything and people ask us all the time where it came from.  Daddy and I both had very blonde hair as little kids and you and your sisters have had the same.  There are a few tiny dark patches on your scalp which is kind of funny.  I wonder how long that blonde will last.

Your favorite food is probably spaghetti even though you wear most of it.  Daddy and I do paper/rock/scissors to determine who gets to clean you up after a pasta meal.  It's not our favorite.

You take wonderful naps and have become our best sleeper.  Sometimes when you wake up if you hear us talking you will yell from your crib, "Stop it guys. Be quiet. I'm trying to sleep."  You are a little rascal.

This weekend Daddy and I got you to ourselves because the big kids went to Grandma & PaPa's.  It was so neat to watch your little personality come out in full force.  You were so happy and so easy.  We took you out to eat quite a bit because only one kid equals a cheap date.  Everywhere we took you, people commented on how cute you are.  You waved at the Chick-fil-a worker through our entire meal and I know it made him feel special.  I pray you will always spread sunshine wherever you go our little sweet Violet.

Thanks for bringing so much joy to our everyday.  We are crazy about you from that blonde hair to those chubby little feet and everything in between.

I love you my baby girl.

Wednesday, November 5

a farm with friends

Darin & Emilee, sweet friends of ours asked us to meet up at a farm for some fall fun.  We got to meet Emilee's family for the first time and it was as if we had known them forever.  They are just that kind of people.  Loved every one of them.  And when someone genuinely loves on my babies, I naturally love them forever.  And love on our babies they did.  

The weather was perfectly Fall that day.  It got cooler and cooler as the night went on but gloves were shared, hands were held, and little bodies were cuddled to make us all feel cozy.  

The highlight for Violet was definitely the animals.  She loved this friendly goat and the "stinky pigs".  

Some good boys right here.

This big crazy swing was a hit.  Violet was so happy to be on with the big kids.

And Emilee is a picture lover like myself so she was happy to snap a family pic for us.  I love it.

We saw farm animals, went through a serious corn maze, kids rode a barrel train, raced rubber ducks, rode a crazy swing, went on a hayride, bounced on a giant pillow, played on a seriously fun playground, and ate delicious donuts.  I would say it was a pretty great night with some super awesome friends.

Monday, October 27

a conversation with mia

Mia - "When I'm a Mommy I will come visit you every morning.  I will bring my husband so he can talk to Daddy and then my baby can play with Violet."

Me - "I would LOVE that.  It would be so neat if you lived close to Mommy & Daddy when you are married."

Mia - "But what if my husband doesn't want to live close to you?"

Me - "I don't know.  What would you do then?"

Mia - "I would just throw him in the lion's den."

Friday, October 24

a whole lot of random

I love my life.  I can't believe that I have the husband I do and that we got to have babies together.  It's all kind of surreal for me.  I have seen so much junk, some of it happened to me and some to those I love dearly but because of that my heart is incredibly grateful for all that God has blessed me with.  One of our discussion questions in my MOPS group recently was if we are living our dreams.  I smiled as soon as I read it.  A thankful smile that God is so familiar with from me at this point.  It is a smile that I can't help, a smile that comes from deep within my heart knowing that I am most definitely living my dreams.  Of course there are days when I want to stay in bed because the thought of caring for four kids is overwhelming and I feel completely inadequate.  I get angry and yell at my kids, I am selfish with my time, I don't always treat Jason the way I should,  and the list could go on and on.  But despite all of my brokenness, Jesus thinks I am worthy of love.  His love.  That is all I need.  But for some crazy reason, He decided to bless me with an adoring and faithful husband and four beautiful babies.  It doesn't make any sense to me.  But I will take it and do my very best to seize the moments I have on earth.

So with all that said, I love to blog because it forces me to pause and reflect on life through different seasons.  It helps me remember my calling and makes me fall in love with my husband and babies even more.

Violet likes to pretend to use Daddy's roller.  It always makes her laugh.

On beautiful Sundays after church when the light pours through the living room windows, I love to take pictures of our kids being kids.  They are usually happy and and the fact that they are dressed nice and cute from church makes for extra fun pictures.

I love it when Avery and Tyson wrestle.  He is making Avery tough and they laugh a lot.  It typically ends with someone crying but it is pretty fun to watch.

This little one.  Oh, that dimple melts me.  What is it about dimples?  She is the sweetest little thing and such a stinker.  She acts like a 7 year old trapped in a 2 year old body.  She can say anything and everything and she does!  She will let you know what she wants and expects prompt reaction.  It is hard for me not to just spoil her rotten.

These two are beginning to play together more and more.  The problem is that they both want to dictate how everything is done so that makes things interesting.  Can't wait to see their relationship develop as they grow.

I love it when Mia performs for us.  Her made up songs and dances are the best.  

I am completely biased of course but the beauty of our babies blows me away at times.  I could just stare at those faces all day.  God outdid himself with these four.

 I have never seen a bigger Daddy's girl until Violet.  She is seriously in love with her Daddy.  It melts my heart to watch them together.

Mia loves to dress up and especially loves to wear hats.  Last winter, she wore this panda hat almost constantly and it is back again.  She wore it for about a week straight even to bed but seems to be backing off a bit now.

Jason and Tyson tried to go for a run one evening and an insane thunderstorm hit minutes after they walked out the door.  It was scary and Avery and I were not fans of them being outside during the crazy storm.  Jason called and asked me to pick them up in the next neighborhood.  I threw the girls in the van and we headed out.  A super friendly guy invited them to hang out in his garage while they waited for me.  I love nice people.  So on our way to get them only a few blocks away, we got a flat tire.  Ugh.  I had never had a flat tire before and I didn't know what exactly was going on so I continued to drive.  We located them and Jason checked the tire to confirm that it was indeed flat as a pancake.  The guy that offered his garage for shelter had previously worked for roadside assistance so he offered his tools and services.  Jason ran home to get what he needed and then drove back to us and changed the tire.  A neighbor from across the street came over to hold a flashlight up for them.  Nice people all around that helped make what could have been a horribly chaotic and rough night into a count your blessings kind of night.  They found a screw in the tire so if I had not taken the van out that night, it would have gone flat on my way to take Avery to school the next morning.  Thank goodness Jason was home when it happened, it was an easy fix, and we headed to the tire place in the morning to replace the spare with a new one.

Mia loves riding her purple bike and it is very cute to watch her struggle up hills.

We love going to the Zoo.  It's beautiful there and the animals are so fun to watch.  This guy was full of personality.  One of the zoo workers said he stays right by the fence most of the time and does little dances to get attention.  Funny little flamingo.

We were leaving our local chinese restaurant the other day and the lighting was perfect so I grabbed the camera out of the car.  I tried to get a cute picture of her messing with the gum ball machine but she wasn't into it so I captured this sweet little face instead.

Violet carries her babydoll blankie thing all the time.  She says, "It's my special baby doll" and it is incredibly precious.  It was on clearance at Kohl's one day when she was about 9 months old and I snatched it up hoping she would love it.  I was right.

My Mom visited last weekend and we had a wonderful time with her.  She brought some peanuts that Violet could not stop eating.  We had to finally cut her off so she didn't get sick.  She really loves peanuts.

Grandma also brought little wooden fall pictures for the kids to paint.  They were a huge hit.  Grandma knows what she's doing.  We got to shop together for several hours on Saturday and that was a blast.  She is retiring soon and we are looking forward to spending more time with her.  The kids were sad to see her go, especially Violet.

And last but not least, one of the funniest pictures I have ever taken.  Violet was telling me about how she went poo-poo and I caught this hilarious face.  That's how I feel about dirty diapers too.