Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Things They Say (13)

I made my children a very special chocolate waffle breakfast one morning and #1 was staring at how #3 was only eating the whipped cream and strawberries off the top and not the entire waffle. Very firmly he says to her:

"#3, you love those waffles with the wrong kind of love. You only love them for their whipped cream and not for the entire waffle as a whole!"

I didn't know all the stuff we have been telling him about love, purity and the world was actually sinking in, but if you can relate spiritual teachings to your breakfast, I guess that means it is...

My older two forgot to brush their teeth before leaving for co-op while my 3 year old remembered to brush hers. I was teasing the older two about this and said, "Everyone is going to run away from you guys when they smell your dinosaur breath!" Without a second passing #1 says, "Well, at least we still have our good looks!" This kid's humor is the best!
#2 running in from outside: "Mom, I know how to play volleyball! I'm really good!"
Me: "Yay! Now I have someone to play with!"

#2: "Ok! I'm going to go back outside and keep practicing my kick!"

Today I was telling #1 how the real tale of Little Red Riding Hood Ends, "In the real tale, Little Red Riding Hood gets eaten and nobody saves her. It was a tale to teach children not to talk to strangers." 
#1: "Moral of the story is, 'Don't talk to strangers. They may be cannibals!'" 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Happy Birthday #1!

Waiting for you to come out of your co-op class on the Tuesday before your birthday I hear a little boy telling your sternly, "Remember James, my mom's phone number is 555-5555" As we walked to the car I asked, "James, why was that little boy giving you his mom's number?"

"Oh! Because I invited him to my birthday party!"

"Who else did you invite?"

"Everyone in my class!"

Too bad for you, on your 8th birthday your dad had to be in Ohio and the "party" was kept to a very few people including Mimi and Papa. But if you had your way, you would have had every person you ever met there, and enjoyed each of them. You are so social and love to be around people. You are always up for play dates, shindigs and dinners with friends. I think you get that from your Grandma's side.

This year you have matured beyond measure in every way: spiritually, academically and emotionally. Sometimes I sit in awe of you and the young man you are. The curiosity you had as a very small child has not left you, and you know more about world history than I do, just from your own reading. Your attention span in homeschooling has gotten greater and made this the best year of homeschooling yet. I wish I could sum all of you up in this simple blog post, but you are too special and complex to do so.

This year you have taken a great liking to St. John Paul II and this seems to have lit a fire in you like never before. One day after listening to a talk about your beloved saint, you told me you were going to do a 40 day fast from sweets since JPII prayed a lot and Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. I honestly thought it would last a few days, but a week in and you were still going strong. On Sunday I told you you could eat sweets because we don't fast on Sundays. While biting into your cookie, you asked simply, "Mommy, did Jesus come out of the desert on Sundays?" You didn't waver from that fast the entire 40 days. You fasted better than I have in my entire life, offering your sweets up for the intentions you set out before you. This is only one example of the way you humble me and make me want to be a better person everyday.

A few weeks ago, we had company and a 13 year old boy (who we have known many years) was at our home. In the course of a year, this boy went from my shoulder, to towering over me. From a sweet high pitched voice, to a low man's voice. As you walk by my side these days, still hovering at armpit level, I know the days are coming fast where you will tower over me. As you reach out to hold my hand in mass, I know the days are coming quickly where you will no longer want to. I know the days are coming where our conversations can be more complex and I pray they are as open as they are now. I pray you never stop thinking everyone is your friend. and I pray you never ever lose the great love for learning you have.

Through this year of moving and transition, of having to say goodbye to old friends and making new ones, of experiencing the death of your BooBoo, of getting used to family being hours and hours away, you have handled everything better than I could have ever imagined and I am so proud of you. It's something you have done since you were little; if there is a problem, you seek to fix it. If there is a cloudy day, you will find the sunshine in everything. You always try to look on the bright side of things. You feel immense compassion for those that are suffering, and I have seen you cry FOR other people more times in your little life than most adults do in a lifetime. May you always find the light in the darkness, and may you continue to be a shining star in this world. I love you my son!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Life in a Small Town

The other night I spent a good amount of time reading some older posts on this blog. While it lifted my spirits to read about so many happy memories, the tone of my writing was striking to me. I can read between the lines that there was a simplicity to my life when I first started my blog that no longer exists. My writings seem the be light and cheerful. Life feels heavier now than it did back then. Maybe it's the increase of work with four children as opposed to two, or maybe it's the crosses I have been called to carry, but life is definitely heavier now than it was four years ago.

We are living in a very small town for eight months. Actually we are almost to the end of those eight months and I have written very little about them. When we moved to a small town, I expected something like in the movies where everyone is  kind and warm and inviting.  I was worried that at the end of the eight months there would be another round of painful goodbyes, but I was determined not to let that keep us from making friends. Now that we are almost to the end, I can honestly say there is not one person to say goodbye to. The small town has let me down. People were very friendly when we first moved here, but it was almost like no one needed anyone else. Like because everyone has been here forever, they have their little communities in place and have no need for one more person. I was all but shunned from the homeschooling co-op, and not once were we invited anywhere but to a protestant church. The silver lining in it all is that I have definitely learned that I prefer to live near a bigger city. It's a good thing to know about oneself.

We bought a house last month. It's out in the country and on five acres. We moved away from family and friends back to Oklahoma to pursue this "land and farm" lifestyle that we know very little about. I can feel that God's hand has been in every part of getting us here, and I know that owning land and having animals has been on both Max and my heart for a very long time. On the normal day where I'm stuck in this 1200 square foot home with none of my own things while the kids go crazy (literally) and I don't have a friend in sight, the faith that we are in the heart of God's will is the only thing that keeps me going. It's strange how we can be hurting and lonely and not necessarily the happiest we have ever been and still know that we are doing His will. What a grace and comfort this is.

These past months have stretched me in ways I haven't been stretched before and I thank God for that. In all the things I have experienced in life (which isn't a ton), I have never really been lonely. But here I am lonely. The few friends I do have live an hour and a half away and my kids aren't in any activities that would foster new friendships. Christ was lonely. All His friends left him in His time of greatest need. And if He was lonely, I can be lonely. This small town cross I have been asked to carry is really small in the grand scheme of things. But even the smallest crosses can be carried with great love if we let Him lead us.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


I'm laying on the living room floor checking the news on my phone and my littlest daughter is walking all around me. I don't see her, I'm too into the news. Then I lay my phone down and watch her dancing around the floor, wondering how many of these moments I have missed. How many more moments I will miss because of the phone in my hand.

It took me a long time to get a smartphone. I waited as long as I could, but when we moved, and I knew no one and was trying to navigate around a new place without any direction, facetime and google maps seemed more important than my prior convictions. I don't hate the phone. I actually really like it in a lot of ways. I used to look at people with smartphones in their hands in public places and get mad and angry that they weren't present to those around them. While I do my best to keep my phone away while others are present, I now understand how easy it is to quickly "check something".

The thing is, I'm sure that this "checking" stuff, is never more important than the people right in front of us. How can a news article, facebook, the weather or a text possibly compare to the person right in front of us? Especially when that person is my own child, wanting nothing more than my attention.

Life is really nothing more than thousands upon thousands of tiny moments strung together in a web of memories. My fear is that, in the very short time I have had a smartphone, I have already given too many of these moments away. I have looked at a screen instead of into a child's eyes. I have mindlessly wandered around my phone instead of reading a story or talking to my kids.

I have thought about this so much: why do I want to be on the phone? The simple answer is, mental laziness. It's so much easier to read an article or scroll through Facebook instead of sit with my own thoughts. I used to think and pray as I nursed the baby to bed every night. Now, most of that time is spent looking at my phone. We used to have these moments all the time before smartphones took over the world. A quick trip up an elevator. waiting in the grocery line, sitting in the car waiting for kids, waiting in the doctors office, going to the bathroom. All of these were short spurts of time where our mind could go blank and just think for two seconds without being bombarded with a million other things. What if these small moments are actually really important and we're just throwing them away on a screen? There is something I am learning quickly about having a smartphone: If you aren't intentional about the way you use it, it can steel a lifetime of moments from you. It can make those people right  in front of your eyes feel unimportant and ignored.

So why do I keep my smartphone after this rant? I've thought long and hard about this one, and here is the truth (at least for now). I believe when my kids are older, there will be no simple phones left. I believe I have somewhat of a moral obligation to teach my kids that this tool of their generation can be used responsibly and well. For me that means putting the phone away during homeschooling, and other one on one time with the kids. It means leaving it in the car when we go on picnics. Turning it off when I know I can't ignore a text. It means leaving it in the living room when I put the baby to bed at night. It means always being present and aware of those around me. It means getting rid of it if I can't do these things.  I refuse to have my kids memories consist of fighting for my attention over a phone. I refuse to let it steal these precious and fleeting moments.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My Little Belle Turns 6

I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday. I remember laboring with you and being so excited to meet my little GIRL! I remember when they laid you on my chest and you looked mad at the world,  like you couldn't figure out what just happened. I kept asking the midwife why you weren't crying and she said you were perfectly fine.

I remember your first year of life where all you did was cling to me. You liked and wanted no one but me, and sometimes those days seemed like they would never end. You walked with me, sat with me, slept with me. We were always together.

I remember when you started to gain independence with such fierceness we didn't know what would come of it. No matter how many times your brother knocked you over, you got back up and wanted to keep playing. I remember figuring out how strong willed you were and knowing I would have to handle you in a different way than your brother.

I remember when you started to talk and we finally could hear all the sweet thoughts that went on in your head. When we took you public places you stood back and watched before ever going to play. People were amazed that such a "strong" child would react to public places with a sense of shyness, but this was just another misconception people had about you. You are comfortable around those you know, but it takes time for you to give your heart or energy to those you don't.

I remember the years when you threw huge tantrums. Not because you were a bad kid, but because you longed to do things the way YOU wanted to do them and when you wanted them done. I remember figuring out that holding you and hugging you through a tantrum sometimes did much more than leaving you there alone. I felt so sorry for you that you got yourself so upset.

I remember when you started going to pre-school and found your first friends that weren't your siblings. You truly do love other children who are kind and caring, and can spot an unkind one a mile coming.

This year you are six and I have so many emotions. I am so incredibly proud of who you are becoming. That fierce and independent spirit you had as a child is still present, but you have channeled it into kindness, compassion and servitude. Whatever "strong will" you had as a small child is now starting to serve you to your benefit and it's incredible to watch. You are the first to help me whenever I am in need. You are the first to help anyone in need. You notice when people are sad or hurt or afraid and you run to help. You are an amazing sister to your brother and your smaller siblings. You read to #3 every night, you carry #4 around everywhere she wants to go. You wrestle with your brother, even though there are much funner games you might rather be playing. You have a superbly joyful spirit and you are as creative as they come. These days you love to read and draw and color. You would do projects all day long if I let you. Most days you are homeschooling before homeschooling even starts; doing our math worksheet and handwriting before I have even finished breakfast. You are a natural born leader (which is why you and your brother fight) and love to be in charge of a game. You love nature and flowers and everything pretty. I hope that never changes.

This birthday has also brought me sadness. I know you are only six, so this may seem silly, but you have matured beyond my imagination this year. You no longer need me every moment or want me to solve your problems. You can figure them out just fine by yourself most times. You figure things out about the world in your own mind and then come to me with your conclusions. You won't let me help you pray because you want to figure out your own prayers all by yourself.  You want to forge your own path forward in life, and while I know you will do an excellent job, it's hard to let go of you little by little. This year more than any year, you have let go of me a little more; I am happy and sad and beyond proud of who you are. I love you my sweet Belle. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Things They Say (12)

I haven't done one of these in a while, but don't think that means my kids stopped talking!

Quite a while ago: #2: "You should not ever say 'Oh my God'"
#1 "Yes! That is one of the Ten Commandments, 'You shall not use the Lord's name in Spain!"

We were watching Full House and one of the children acted very bratty. I asked #1 what he thinks would happen if he acted like that and he responds, "Oh! I would feel so guilty I would spank myself!"

On the way to Sunday school driving in my workout clothes (tank top and shorts)
#1: "Uh...Mom, are you really going to take us in to Sunday school wearing that?"
Me: "No, honey. I'm just dropping you off at the door. Would it embarrass you if I wore this inside?"
#1: "Well, you see, it's a bit immodest. (long pause) I wouldn't really be embarrassed but you should be!"

#1: "Hey Mom!" You know that game we play at Chuck E Cheese...Sky Golf?!"
Me: Thiniking..."Do you mean Air Hockey?"
#1: "Yeah, that's it!"

#3 (3 years old) coming up to Max holding a box of bullets: "Daddy?! Why do you have these tiny little crayons? How do you draw with these?"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Little Jules Turns 3

Dear Jules,
This week you turned three years old! I can't believe how fast the time has gone and how you steal the hearts of everyone around you. You may be the most naturally sweet child there is. These days you love to do anything your bigger siblings are doing. You follow them around everywhere and get extremely hurt if they won't let you play. You are not quick to join in with big crowds but love to play one on one with other kids. You have the best manners and I don't even remember teaching you them. You are constantly saying "Sank you mommy!" even when I do the simplest things for you. If you have done something wrong, a harsh no can break you in to tears. Whenever you get in trouble you run in to my arms, hug me and say "fourry mommy!" It's the cutest thing! Your heart is so sensitive and I hope it always stays that way.

Playing doctor. Of course, they made you the patient. 

Which you were totally fine with.

For your 3 year old birthday, Grandma came to visit and you were so sad to see her leave. You sent your paci with her to give to your baby cousin. We had talked a lot about how big you were and that it was time to give up your paci, but when it came to it, you did it all on your own. The other day you told me you were going to marry the baby Jesus when you grow up and help "mama Mary". It made my heart happy. You love to play "mommy" with Belle, which basically just means she gets to boss you around. Both of you love this game. I wish I could put in writing the way you say your name, but writing it down wouldn't due it's cuteness justice.

You bring so much joy and peace to this family. Your calm presence is just what we needed and God knew it. You remind me daily to slow down and enjoy the little things, and I am forever grateful for it. Almost daily, you crawl up on my lap and say, "I wike you mommy!" and give me a huge kiss and hug and then run off. Your love and sweetness is beyond sincere. I wish I could keep you little, but I know you have to grow up. My prayer for you is that you remain as sweet, innocent and sincere as you are now, and that you continue to love without reserve. I love you my little Jules and am beyond honored to be your mommy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Sunshine Turns 1

One year ago today I had just given birth to our fourth baby. Since then, I have called her my sunshine baby. She has been my light in the darkest places and my ray of hope when life seemed bleak.

Two weeks after I had Sarah was when I was diagnosed with my blood clot. She was taken from me in the hospital and I thought my heart might break when they took me through one set of doors and she went through another. That night I cried to anyone who would listen that I missed and needed my baby. My nurses urged me to calm down and rest so that they could make sure I could still be a mother to my children. When I woke up the following day, my heart hurt and my arms ached for her. My only connection to her was the milk being transported from the hospital to her bottle. When I arrived home, I have never felt such relief as when she was placed in my arms. I got to hold her again. I had made it home.

The following weeks, my ability to be a mother was taken from me. I could do nothing but sleep, eat and nurse. In those days, God gave me purpose in Sarah and I think it saved my mental health. If I couldn't teach and read to my children, at least I could nurse and sleep with Sarah. Babies need to be held and I was doing a lot of holding. As I began to get a bit better, that is literally all I did; I sat in my chair and held Sarah. Fourth children rarely get this kind of touch and attention, but I am so thankful for those four months where she did nothing but sit in my arms. While she lay there, I often sang her "You Are My Sunshine", and she was. Her bright smile and need for my arms, gave me purpose when I thought I had become useless to my family. Being able to nurse her and hold her helped nurse me back to health.

Every baby holds exponential hope for the world and Sarah's was felt by all those around us during that time. Most women look back on the first year of their child's life and can see how much they took care of that child. But I look back on Sarah's first year and can only think of how much she took care of me. I am eternally grateful for her joy and light in a time of great darkness.

Sarah, you bring immeasurable joy to this family. Your brother and sisters adore you almost as much as you adore them. Daddy is already your knight in shining armor. Your loving and vibrant spirit can be seen by all those around you and we can't wait to watch you grow. Thank you for taking care of me in my darkest moments. Thank you for being my hope in a time when hope seemed lost. I thank our loving Creator everyday for the blessing you are. I love you, my sunshine!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

When Life Stops

2015 was a year I never want to re-live. Although it was filled with many blessings, it was also filled with so many hardships and so much stress. The year started with the beautiful birth of our fourth daughter. Following that was severe anxiety that I never even want to think about having again. Once the anxiety settled, I had my major blood clot. Then came the four months of healing and laying around while my mom ran the house (seriously, thank GOD for that woman). After I was healed there were still tons of doctors appointments to go to, which with 4 children, is a stressful thing. Then came my husband wanting to get out of the Air Force and find a new job. Once the new job was found, we had to get the house ready to sell. Again, add the four homeschooling kids factor and that's not easy. Then, in mid October, Max's dad got very ill.

This is when life should have stopped. Everything else should have been pushed aside, but with a move that had to happen in just a few short months, life felt like a freight train coming towards us that wasn't slowing down no matter what we did. For the next six weeks Max tirelessly spent hours after work and often whole nights at the hospital with his dad, while I got the house ready to sell. At then end of November Max's father past away and for the second time in a year, our hearts felt like they were literally breaking. On the day of his funeral, our house went on the market.

The house sold in only a few days, and this left a few weeks in December to spend time with Max's mom before we moved. Life should have stopped. Max should have had time to mourn and just be, but that's not what God had planned for us.

So now here we are BACK in Oklahoma. We are in a small town about an hour away from the city and anyone I know. And it feels like life has stopped. Completely. We are in a house that doesn't feel like home, in a town that seems to have no friends. The days crawl by. Our support system from the past four years feels like it has been pulled out from under us. I can't remember the last time I just sat at home with my kids and wondered what we were going to do for the day. Now I do it everyday. I know that should feel good after the craziness of last year, but it doesn't. It just feels lonely.

It's easy to look back on 2015 and call it cursed somehow. But if I turn my point of view even just a little, I see the hand of God in all of it. I GOT better. Completely. We have a new healthy member in our family. My mom was physically and emotionally able to take on the very hard task of taking over my home and children. My husband found a wonderful new job by simply tapping on a door that flew wide open. Our house sold in only 4 days. And the blessing that just blows me away: we were able to spend the last four years of Max's father's life with him. Max and his dad worked side by side on some project or another almost daily while we were there. I'll admit that when we talked about moving, we always questioned and wondered what we would do when Max's dad got sick (he had cancer, and we knew eventually he would probably get sick). How would we be there for him and his mom while living 8 hours away? God took care of everything. He put us exactly where we needed to be, when we needed to be there.

Even though this new place feels nothing like home, and I feel completely out of my element and alone, all I can do is trust that I'm in the heart of God's will. Even though the past is heartbreaking to look back on and the future to unsure to ponder, I hope that in the present hardships my heart can only say, "Jesus, I trust in you."