Monday, April 30, 2012

One Month to Go

I'm officially counting down to summertime.  One more month to go.

{these are just random pictures from recent weeks}
The kids' last day is May 31st.  Very cool.  Our 10th anniversary happens to be June 1st, so maybe we'll just have a party day on Friday, the 1st, in honor of summer starting and the start of our family 10 years ago.

With summer on the horizon, I decided to follow my friend Laurie's lead and start planning for the break.

We planned activities for our Spring Break, but even then I noticed that when things didn't work out or there wasn't a concrete plan, my big kids tend to start bickering.  Mama can't handle that for long!

So, I'm going to use this particular post as a running log (using comments) on ideas for the summer break.
I'll start with what we already have planned, mention a few things people have suggested through a post I made on Facebook, and then let you all help me out with making additional comments.
My mom will be here visiting for the month of June.  Joel has a conference to attend for a few days that month, so it will be great to have my mom here during that time.  Plus, Joel and I are going to take a 10th Anniversary trip at the end of that month and my mom will stay with the kids...woohoo!  (A Carnival cruise in the western Caribbean will be our treat.  To say I'm excited is a major understatement.)
The kids will be participating in Vacation Bible School at The Branch, a nearby church. Jenna's friend from school goes there and her mom leads the children's ministry.  They will also do VBS with our church at the apartments where we used to live.  But, I don't have dates for that yet.  The VBS at The Branch will happen while we're on our cruise, so that will give my mom something for the big kids to do each day.  Works out great!
We are getting a pass to the Rosemeade Rainforest Complex, so we'll have at least a few days each week that we go play in the water.  There are also a few spray grounds around the area.  We'll probably check 'em all out!

Friends have mentioned the following:
--drama camp in Plano
--Studio Movie Grill $1 kid movies
--library
--local parks
--moms playgroup from our church

Many moms mentioned swim lessons.  My kids can all swim, thanks to lessons for the last 3 years, so we will just plan to practice their skills in the pool.
So, now it's your turn!  Add any ideas in the comments (if you aren't local, you can just tell me some of your plans).

Thanks for helping us out!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Incredible

This adventure called motherhood really is incredible. I've never been so challenged, so vulnerable, so taken in all my life.
I officially became a mama 8 years ago today. I will never forget that day and all the craziness that led to that final moment when our baby girl burst on the scene.
A girl?!
We were surprised. Not that we had any real clue, but we just kinda thought we would have a boy. We loved the surprise. I've never regretted not knowing until that moment. That glorious and amazing moment.
Rylee Kay is very much like her mama in a number of ways. She's also very much her own unique person.
If you spend any amount of time with her, you will find out a few things fast.
Rylee loves to sing.
Rylee loves to talk.
Rylee loves to dance.
Rylee loves to read.
Rylee loves to laugh.
Rylee lives in her own world much of the time--getting engrossed in what she's doing.
She's smart and sweet.
She loves Jesus and wants to love Him with her life.
She loves her family and her friends.
She has hardly ever met a stranger (she gets that from her Nana).
I cannot begin to explain all the deep things I've learned from parenthood. But, one thing I can easily explain, I am more than honored to be the mama to my Rylee-bug!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sweetest Notes

Rylee woke up around midnight two weeks ago complaining of ear pain. After putting some homeopathic drops in her ear and giving her some ibuprofen, she went back to sleep. The next morning she was okay but her ear still hurt some. I gave her more drops and we finished getting ready for church. I did notice the q-tip I used to clean just the edge of her ear was tinged pink, but I thought it was the drops.

She complained off and on as we went to breakfast, at times getting very upset. We gave her more ibuprofen and she seemed to feel better. Near the end of church I looked at her ear again and saw blood in the ear canal. I was very concerned and knew almost immediately that she must have ruptured her ear drum.

Once we were back home I took Rylee to an urgent care for kids. They confirmed that her ear drum had perforated. They gave her strong meds and told us to take her back to our pediatrician in 3 weeks to make sure it healed.
The next day, Asa drew this picture. He says it says "I will cheer Rylee up because [she has an] ear infection." (He just wrote it a little backwards and phonetically spelled it and forgot a few words.) BUT...it came from his heart without prompting from his parents. That's my favorite part!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is Alive!

I didn't take a single picture after we got dressed for church today. But, Jett was wearing this outfit yesterday, then it got washed and he wore it again today for Easter. So, here you go. Jett in all his Easter cuteness....with his "scrunchy" face.I took pictures of our early morning Easter focused breakfast treats, though. These are called "Empty Tombs" (or Marshmallow Delights).You take a white marshmallow, which represents Jesus (purity and sinless perfection), talk about him being crucified, then he was anointed with oil (roll the mallow in butter) and spices (cinnamon sugar mixture). He was then wrapped in cloths (crescent roll --dip the top in butter/cinn sugar and place in muffin pan). They placed him in a tomb (oven at 375) and sealed it with a large stone (close the oven). Bake for 13-15 minutes. Talk about how the disciples were sad and were left just waiting and wondering.When the oven timer goes off, we checked the tombs and they were EMPTY! We read the Resurrection story from our Jesus Storybook Bible (perhaps one the very best books I've ever read and my absolute most favorite kids Bible).

Then, I didn't take my camera out the rest of the day. We went to church and spent time with friends.
But...yesterday we went to our church's egg hunt outreach at the apartments where we used to live.
Some new friends who just arrived in Texas joined us and Asa's best buddy from school came!
The kids had a great time getting lots of candy, eating hotdogs and popcorn and cotton candy, jumping in the bounce houses and just running around.
Jenna and Asa sweetly obliged me as I asked them to pose for a picture with the bunny. We stayed at the party until the very end and the kids helped deflate one of the houses.I hope your Sunday was spent reflecting on the amazing gift God has given us. Jesus loves us. He demonstrated His love with an incredible sacrifice and then conquered death and the grave. My sins are forgiven and I am righteous because of Christ's sacrifice and my trust in His atonement on my behalf. I am no longer an enemy of God, but He is my friend. I pray you know this Love and had a wonderful day celebrating.

He is risen! Jesus is alive!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How Many Children?!!!

Oh, the questions I've been asked. The remarks I've heard about our family. I'm sure every family has something they've "heard it" about.

For someone who might not know exactly, we were married just over one year when I got pregnant with our first child. That child was then one year old when we decided to start trying for a second bambino. I got pregnant in month two with a double blessing. So, my first 3 kids are less than 2 years apart. Was it crazy? Um, yes, at times. But, it was my normal. I had not controlled any of it!

You see, we were trying to control it. I was on the pill when we got pregnant with Rylee. We had had an 'oops' moment, but nonetheless were on the pill. (I apparently got pregnant and didn't know it and then proceeded to take my next month of pills for 3 weeks until we discovered I was pregnant.)

When we decided to try for #2, we figured it might take a few months. Again, we had no control over this. And, we certainly had no control over the fact that God created two babies in my womb.

For a long time, I felt guilty any time I would feel overwhelmed as a mom of young kids. I felt ashamed that I didn't have it all figured out and didn't just "know" how to do this mom thing.

Time passed. When the twins were about 2 1/2 years old, I told Joel I wanted to have one more baby. He wasn't ready. After some discussion, we tabled the issue and decided to talk about it after the first of the next year. At that point, Joel felt firmly that the answer to that question was "not now". That sort of dealt with it for me and I didn't give it much thought again for almost the rest of the year. Then, in the fall I was dealing with some physical things and really wanted to just be done taking pills. One day, in a very random moment, Joel declared that we could handle one more child. He even said that if it was a double it would be hard but we could do it. [That, my friends, was his BIGGEST fear!]

We ended up trying for 6 months! This timing was so strange to me. I had gotten pregnant so easily before. During that time a friend said to me, "Doesn't this just show you all the more how this is God's doing, not yours?"

Yes, why, yes it does! God creates life. I believe that firmly.

So, we have four children. And, oh my. As if the first three didn't cause enough comments, questions, and statements. Having four makes you either a saint or a serious nut.

That's why this person's blog post entitled "Some Subtle Effects of Birth Control" really struck a chord with me when I read it today. It challenged me--on how I perceive things and what judgements I make and how much I like controlling things.

In case you don't want to click and read the whole article, here's a little brief synopsis:
1. We think young couple who get pregnant right away are irresponsible.
2. "Was it planned?" is an acceptable question because we think we should be in control.
3. Children are often seen and referred to as an "accident".
4. Large families are seen as incredible (and wrongly put on a pedestal) or insane (and sneered at).
5. Anyone who hasn't bought into the birth control culture is seen as fair game for criticism, jokes, or invasive questions because it is assumed they "chose" something different.
6. By extension, it is expected that larger sized families (because they "chose" to have that many kids) should never struggle with a lack, with discipline, never be tired, etc.
7. Young professionals are "throwing away their career" if they stop to stay home with their baby.
8. Couples are often shocked and dismayed if they struggle with infertility. [because we're supposed to be in control]
9. Other effects: rise in sexual immorality, adultery, abortions...

Her explanations for each point drive them home so well. And, sadly, they are too true!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard "don't you know what causes that?" or "wow, you have your hands full" I would never lack for funds for our family!!!

My favorite part of her article, though, was her admonition to those reading. Christians should seek God's face and become that peculiar people--a people set apart and different from the world around us. We should be people who see children differently--as a blessing rather than a liability--and who discipline our children in a godly way so we aren't bowled over by the idea of having more.

Before you think I'm bashing people who use birth control, please realize I was on the pill for almost 10 years and we have taken measures to be done growing our family through our physical bodies. We are, however, open to adopting children in future years and will continue to seek the Lord for His plans for our family as we walk with Him. I believe it's all about seeking the Lord. But, this article really spoke to me about how we judge one another. And, I had never made the connection between these ideas and birth control!