Monday, August 11, 2014

Jack's Second Birthday Letter

A few words about Jack on his second birthday…

Jackie Man-

Every child is unique, their presence a gift. The arrival of each additional child adds such richness to the makeup of a family. After they are here, you wonder how you ever did without them in the first place! This is how we feel about our Jack Noble.  Jack Man, You are full of mischief and curiosity, always into everything, a regular stinker! You toddle around the house, lifting up things and looking around to see what you might use for your rascally purposes. You want to know how things work, what everything is and how it is used. I have to keep my eyes on you almost constantly. If I don’t know where you are and it is silent for even a minute, I can be sure that you are up to something sneaky. When I find that you’ve gotten into something, you look at me with those big blue eyes, a half grin, and a face that says you know you’ve been caught. I can hardly be upset with you. Your dad says that you have me wrapped around your little finger. This is only partially true. You are just so darn cute! I can hardly stand it.

It has been fun having another boy around the house again. You are all boy, for sure. You like to make lots of noise. You love cars, trucks, and trains. You love moving parts, anything with wheels. You are always figuring out how things work. You like to experiment with knobs, switches, and buttons. You say, “Look, Mommy!” and always want to show me what you can do. Your favorite toys are trucks, balls and your bike and car. Sometimes you pick up baby dolls and roll them around in the shopping cart and make them go “night night.”  You love to wear your little blue Crocs. You wear them with everything. You are very daring and adventurous, unafraid of anything. You dive into the swimming pool with a big splash, almost without looking or thinking about it. You throw yourself around. I keep thinking that you are going to hurt yourself, because you aren’t the slightest bit cautious.

You love books. You will often grab one of the many people who are around the house and say, “Read me!!” (Read to me!!) You can often be seen sitting in the rocking chair listening to a book or thumbing through a book and reading to yourself. Right now, your favorites are Snug House Bug House, Go Dog Go, The Toddler Bible, and Little Blue Truck.

You love to sit in my lap. You come up to me all the time and say, “Want lap! Want hold you!” You love to be snuggled and held and carried All. The. Time.  You will dish out kisses and hugs to anyone who asks. You love the attention you get on a regular basis. If Mabel is sitting in my lap, you have been known to come up and give her a push. You don’t like anyone else getting your place.

You have been our most finicky eater, but you are finally coming around. Often you decide that you don’t like something, even before you have tried it. This is super annoying. None of our other children have nearly so picky. We continue to insist that you try a couple of bites of each thing at the table, sometimes having to employ bribery to get you to comply. You are already getting better.

You are a friendly, social little guy. You love people. If someone overwhelms you, you might hide your head behind me, but for the most part, you smile and wave at passers by, people at church, etc. At church, you make a bee line for Mr. Krueger, a.k.a. “the candy man.” You run up and say, “Mr. Krueger!” and hug his leg. After he gives you a sucker, you say, “Tank you!” and then proceed to show off your sucker to every person you encounter saying, “Look! I got sucker!”  You especially love elderly people. Several times I have seen you run up to an elderly person and say, “Hi! Hi!” and continue to wave at them, without them seeing, until they finally see you. Then you flash them that sweet sheepish grin of yours and proceed to start “joking” with them in your own Jack way. You might point your finger and make a shooting gun sound or swat at them and laugh. Most people think you are pretty cute and pretty funny.

                You still sleep in a pack n play in our closet. We don’t have room anywhere else in the house for you just yet. You don’t seem to mind. You still get up most nights in the middle of the night to snuggle, but you are starting to sleep through the night more and more. I don’t mind. You are a sweet little snuggler. I am soaking it up, enjoying you to the fullest, even in the middle of the night.

                You love to help your dad when he takes his shower each morning. You stand outside his shower door while he is showering and wait. When he is finished, you open the door for him and are waiting with his towel and a pair of shoes. You are a funny buddy.

                You love “gums” (guns) and carry them around the house making shooting sounds and saying, “I shoot bad animals.” You are fearless, killing bugs and taking crazy risks, such as standing up on tall chairs and reaching high spaces. You have to be told repeatedly to ‘Get down from there!’  ‘Don’t touch that!’ ‘No, Jack!’  You are my first climber. To be honest, all of that climbing on things scares me a little bit.

                You like to sing. You love music. You like “God Will Make A Way”, “Bless the Lord, O My Soul”, “Jesus Loves Me” and “The B-I-B-L-E” the best. You have a pretty good little voice. You can sing the tunes correctly. I love to hear your little voice belting out your favorite tunes.

                You have been memorizing Bible verses along with your older sisters and insist upon saying them after breakfast.  We’ve learned that you’ll say anything for the reward of a “chocate chip.”

                The teachers in your Bible class have told me that you are quite the tiny jokester. They say that you take the little teaching props and hide them behind your back when the teachers aren’t looking. You smile really big and say, “Where’d it go? It gome!” (You say your n’s like m’s.) Then you say, “Theh i is!” and laugh and giggle as you pull it back out. I asked them if any of the other kids in there did things like that. They told me that you had a remarkable sense of humor, that you were really silly and tell pretty good “jokes” for your age. Wonder where you got that? J

                Jack Noble, you are a special blessing to us. We love you so much! You bring us such joy! I love to see your sweet smile. I love to get your snuggly hugs. We are so thankful for your life and pray that you will always use your talents for God’s glory. You are a sweet little man. We can’t imagine our family without you in it. Can’t wait to see you grow and change this year and see what type of man God will shape you to be. I love you!

Friday, May 23, 2014

To Major On His Tenth Birthday

I feel terrible about waiting more than a month to write your tenth birthday letter. What a lame mom I am! Better late than never, right?


Another year has come and gone. You are TEN!! You are growing up so fast, too fast! You are in that sweet in- between stage between little boyhood and manhood.  You’ve outgrown playing with your toys, but still like to imagine and pretend you are a baseball player in our back yard. I’m wondering how much longer we have of you like this. You have sized out of little boy shoes. Your feet are bigger than mine already! When we go to the men’s department, you still aren’t quite ready for that. You are a big kid, slowly maturing into a grown up guy. You are still not so grown up that you won’t hold my hand or put your arm around me in church. I keep wondering how much longer that will last before you decide you are much too cool for such things.

You are a thoughtful encourager. You always tell me and others about the good you see in them. You are so sweet natured. Your dad and I were talking the other day about the fact that you don’t have a mean bone in your body. If something is said that is mean natured or harsh, you don’t appreciate it. You won’t participate in picking on or belittling type behavior. It hurts your sensitive heart. If you tell me that you don’t like someone or that you have a problem with their behavior, I know that he or she must be really rotten. You usually believe the best about people. If something unfortunate happens to someone, you feel so terribly sorry for them. Recently, I was laughing about the guy on wheel of fortune who kept ruining his chances with awful answers (mythological hero Achilles.)  I was laughing at how unbelievable it was. You said, “Mom! It isn’t funny! It isn’t funny at all! That poor guy! I’m so sad for him! He must feel so embarrassed!” It made you angry that I was snickering about that poor guy’s misfortune. You have a tender heart for others. You are kind.

You are ALL about baseball, almost to the point of being annoying about it. You want to keep up with every happening with the Rangers. You want to check the gamecast each morning, talk about the game every day, discuss details of the games that I don’t really understand. You love it! This year, you got to go to Spring Training in Arizona with your dad. Your dad and I were both shocked at your tenacity. You were able to push your way through the crowds and get the autographs of several prominent players, Yu Darvish, Clayton Kershaw, Ron Washington, just to name a few. It made us both see how if you want something badly, you have the desire and persistence to go for it!

You have made leaps and bounds this year in the hard work department. There are several tasks that I had to remind you about (daily) last year. This year, you have needed few reminders. You rarely complain when asked to do a job and continually impress me with the fact that you work hard and cheerfully. You are becoming a diligent worker. I am proud of your work ethic and the fact that when I ask you to do something, I receive a “Yes Ma’am” with no back talk or whining. You still have a habit of forgetting what you are doing right in the middle of a job or not staying on task. Still working on that. I wonder sometimes why you tend to get so distracted right in the middle of an activity.

You are thankful and grateful. You always make me smile when you acknowledge things I do for you or our family with words or a note. You are very affirming to me and others. Your sweet comments and thankful heart bless me and are a sort of mini-reward to me. Your words remind me that even though I feel like I’m doing a bad job sometimes, I must be doing something right because you said so.

This year, you accepted a challenge from your dad. You read in Tim Tebow’s biography that he abstained from soda for a year and received $100 from his parents as a reward. Your dad challenged you to do the same. You’ve been doing great practicing discipline and denying yourself to accomplish a goal. Proud of you!

You continue to grow in spiritual depth and understanding. You are a gifted communicator and have no problem speaking in front of a crowd. You are especially good at telling funny stories. This year, you wrote your LTC speech entirely on your own, with no help from us. Your dad was adamant that you do the job yourself, that your own nine year old personality and thoughts went into the speech. You wrote a beautiful talk and made us all proud of your wit and courage when you gave the speech at church. You also took the Timothy class this year. I learned that you had a reputation of being a bit of a class clown in that class. :/  You are a silly one.

You love words. You love to write poems. Your puns can hardly be beat. You make us all laugh. You actually like to talk a LOT. You can be a chatterbox at times. Your wife needs to be a very good listener or one who has several sets of earplugs.

You are friendly. You get along with people. I noticed this year how much of a leader you are to others. There were several tag-alongs on your baseball team this year. When you arrived at a practice or game, I could see you working the crowd. “Hey man! What’s up?” etc. and asking people what was going on with them and their lives.  I can see that you have leadership potential. I pray that you use that gift to lead others in the right direction.

I am proud that you are confident in who you are and whose you are. You don’t seem to care if others do things, have different interests or think differently from you. You care about doing what is right. So thankful that God is answering our prayers in this way.

You have reached out this year to our elderly neighbor, Mr. Eubanks, after his wife died. You are quick to go over and chat with him on a regular basis. You love to hear his stories about his time in the Navy or time spent in China. Yesterday, you ran over to show him a slow motion video we made of you playing basketball. Mr. Eubanks loves you. You like to visit with him. You think he is interesting. You are a friend to elderly. You are also a friend to several little buddies at church who like to tag along behind you. You can get along with people from every age group. People like being around you because you are fun and funny! I love that you are such a people person! I love when people ask you how you are doing. You usually respond with an enthusiastic word like “Terrific!” or “Absolutely great!” or something along those lines. I had a parent at Milla’s preschool remark to me a few weeks ago about how she loves to talk to you when you drop Milla off because you always ask how others are doing and respond to their “How are you?” questions with an enthusiastic response and a smile.

You get along with your big sister. You guys are still such good friends. You miss each other when one or the other of you isn’t around. You are kind to your big sis. She loves you. You are kind to your younger sisters, even when one of them treats you badly.

You are smart and love to read. This year, you have been diligent about daily Bible reading on your own, with no prompting from me. I’m proud that you have already mastered that discipline. Hoping this will be a lifelong habit for you. Praying that God fills your heart with wisdom.

This year, you started doing your own laundry. Wow. It is funny how the amount of your laundry in the laundry pile decreased dramatically once it became your responsibility. Funny how that happened. :/

You love for me to talk to you or take you to breakfast. You also love for me to chat with you at night, right before bed. I haven’t been as good about that as I would like to be. Tucking in multiple children makes it hard. Whenever I do make the time, though, I am always glad I did. I always have fun talking to you.

My prayer for you is that you will continue to grow in wisdom. I know that God has good plans for how He will use your kind and compassionate heart, your care for the souls of others and your gift of communicating for something wonderful. I can’t wait to see what He has for you. Happy birthday, sweet Major Gray (even though I am a little late)! I love you so much and am so glad that God chose me to be your mom!


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

To Milla On Her Fifth Birthday

 To Milla on her fifth birthday-

                It is hard to believe that you are five years old! Time has flown and continues to fly. I keep trying to hold on to little precious little girl moments that I have with you. I know that soon, you will be a big girl. I can see you beginning to change into one already.

                We are officially out of the nasty Milla stage. You tested and tried your dad and me with your strong will from about age 2 until about age 4 and a half. Some days were so rough that I didn’t know how you would ever be different from the fit throwing, high maintainence girl that you were. Sometime within this past year though, you rounded a corner. You changed into a sweet little gal. You want to please your parents. You want to do what is right. You have a highly developed conscience. Just last week, you came up and whispered that you had jumped off of your bed wearing your dress up slippers and had accidentally broken them. You said, “I wasn’t supposed to be jumping off of the bed. I want to tell the truth, Momma. I decided not to listen to Satan and tell a lie. I want do what is right.”  My heart smiled. You are learning. God is growing in your heart. I am so proud! I love to see the works He is doing in you!

                Right now, you are an awesome reader.  Mary Alice and Major could both read at your age, but you my dear, are our super reader.  For your birthday, we bought you all of the Laura Ingalls books. You have been pouring over them voraciously during your quiet time each day. You’ve also read through some of The Chronicles of Narnia. Last week, your Bible class teachers said that you read a chapter of the Bible aloud to the whole class. I know that you have circle time with your friends at preschool. They all gather around to hear you read.  It is so precious to hear you reading aloud each day in the school room. You love to read! It makes me excited about Kindergarten next year, because I know that we will have lots of fun together. We can make lots of time to go on field trips and study characters like Laura Ingalls in depth, since you already have the reading thing down. No wasted time. You are a precocious little thing, very curious. You want to be a big girl.

                We just bought you your first Bible. It isn’t unusual for you to be off somewhere reading all alone. God is giving you a love for His Word already. You are so curious. You want to know all about why and how and where everything happens in the Bible stories. You listen to the sermon and make connections. You express intelligent observations about things that you learn in your Bible class. Last week, you got into trouble for being unkind to a friend. We talked with you about how your selfish attitude was not pleasing to God. Your response? With tears in your eyes, you commented, "Do you think this means that God will "plop" me out of His Holy Book?" Crazy?!? I don't know where you get these things. Perhaps it is from your personal Bible reading? I am confident that neither your Dad, nor I have  been talking about God's Holy Book and Him blotting names out with you! You hear EVERYTHING and you take it in! Yikes!

                You are creative. A few weeks ago, one of your teachers told me that you changed up a game she had organized for the class, creating an entirely new game. I think you are an outside the box thinker who likes to think of different ways to do things. I wonder where you get that? :)

                You love to be my  little helper right now. You enjoy putting away the dishes, setting the table, folding the laundry (haphazardly, but oh well), and anything that makes you feel like a big girl. You are very driven. You are a very diligent and hard worker.  You are getting to be so much fun. Your sense of humor is developing. You are hilarious! Your laugh is contagious. You are precious to me.

                You are SO tall! You wear a size 7. Yesterday, I bought a spring dress for you that was size 7. It almost looks like you are about to grow out of it. I’m afraid it might not fit you through the summer. You  have a very healthy self image. Last weekend, you went on a trip with your dad. You looked at your naked self in the mirror and said, “I’m REALLY tall and I look GOOD!” Hilarious. You love to have your hair put into rollers. I roll it in sponge rollers several nights a week. You love to have your nails painted and lip gloss on. You are sure to point out to people if they fail to notice your new hairstyle or spiffy new outfit.

                You are HIGHLY competetive. You dubbed yourself “The Beater” this past year. You don’t want anyone to beat you. Nobody else can beat you to the top of the stairs, to be the fastest, smartest, etc. It is important to you that you win every game, win everything. If you don’t win, you are extremely disappointed. You exclaim, "I am the Beater!" as you try to win at something.

                Sometimes you have an attitude, but you are very sorry when confronted about it. You are snuggly. You love to be hugged and cuddled. You give the best hugs! You like to push the envelope. I can see a rebellious streak in you. You sometimes want to see exactly what will happen if... even if we've told you that something bad might happen or that you shouldn't do something. I hope this attitude never gets you into trouble.

                You LOVE preschool! You are quite a social creature. Even more than preschool, you love Miss Pam, your teacher. I asked Miss Pam to write  a few words about you for your birthday letter this year. Here is what she had to say, “Milla is a wonderful student and leader to all the kids in her Penguin class. She has a love for reading that all teachers aspire to put into the lives of the children they teach. She is a bit quirky with a wonderful sense of who she wants to be. I cherish our time we have had together and feel God has blessed me through her and hopefully vise versa.

                Did you hear that? You are A LEADER. Some call it bossiness. You have a charisma about you that draws people to you and makes them want to stand up and listen when you have an idea. For the most part, that has served you well. You have had a few little girls tell you that they don’t want to do what you have in mind. For the most part, though, you lead the group. I hope God uses that strong personality of yours for good things.  You can lead people to do good, to follow Jesus, to want to be more like Him, because they see Him in you! Use your leadership for good, Mills.

                We often pray if it is God’s will for you to marry, that He is raising up for you someone who loves Him with all of their heart. That is the most important thing to look for. It isn’t the way he looks, how funny he is, how smart he is, or how he makes you feel. If he loves God the most and wants to serve Him more than ANYTHING else, he is good for you to choose. If he loves other things more than God, God has someone better for you! I know, because I am praying for him. He'd better be strong and kind like your daddy to deal with the likes of you, sweet Mills.

                I know you are only  five, but you need to be thinking about these things even now. You need to be planning for the type of girl God wants to make you into. You need to be wise with the precious gift of your life. Don't waste time going the wrong direction or listening to the wrong voices. Be wise. God can do wonderful things through you, if only you look to Him to guide you and be your strength.

                We love you, sweet Milla girl! You are the precious gift we prayed for. You are an answer to our prayers! You are the girl I wanted, our precious little spitfire with a twinkle in her eye. You are the best. I can’t wait to see what plans God has for your life.  Love you, girl! Happy fifth birthday!

Friday, November 08, 2013

To Mabel on Her Third Birthday

I feel a little bit guilty that the only time I seem to find time to post on this blog is on my kids' birthdays. I used to be so good at blogging. I want to do an adequate job of documenting these special days so that I won't forget them. My days are filled, almost to the brim. My infrequent posts will have to do.

And now for a birthday letter.....

To my Mabel girl on her third birthday-

Mabel girl,
What a precious and sweet gift you are to your dad and me! It is hard for me to believe that you are already three years old!

It has been hard for me to figure out exactly what kind of a little girl you are, what type of person you might be. Much of this is because you trail around behind Milla, following and copying her every move. She bosses you around. Sometimes it is hard to figure out where her personality ends and yours begins. I can see traces of spirit in you, of you claiming your independence from Milla, putting your foot down. I hope to see more of this from you, to see your personality changing from a follower to a leader over time. I plan to make sure you have plenty of time apart from her so that you can learn to make your own decisions and how to be your own person.

You have the sweetest, highest little voice. One of my friends described your voice as sweet and "like a cupcake." You have a sheepish look that makes you look so guiltless and innocent. I can see the sneakiness in you, though. You definitely have a sweet look that causes people to say "Aww.." and allows you to get away with some things, especially with your Dad. You can't quite pronounce all of your words right now. You have trouble with your L's and R's, saying things like "Melly Alice" and "bwotha."

You love to be read to and love to sing. You have the most beautiful voice. This year, you've loved singing 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord O My Soul), Create In Me A Clean Heart, O God, The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases, among others. Your voice makes me smile. You can carry a pretty good tune. One of my favorite things is to hear you sing. You surprise me with the things you already know, especially since I don't work with you on many of them. Milla has taught you about your ABC's and numbers. You have been especially adept at learning your memory verses this year. You love to say your memory verses! Each morning at breakfast, you run over and pull them out of the drawer and remind me to say them to you. This year, you've learned around forty verses and the books of the Bible. You especially enjoy reciting anything that has to do with music.

You love to be held. You love to snuggle, especially with your dad in the mornings! You look so much like your Nonnie. They call you her "mini me." The faces you make remind me a lot of your Dad. You look so much like him too. :)

Right now, you love to be left alone with the felt board, "with the light on and the door shut." You go in there and play for hours, telling Bible stories and making up pretend stories with the flannelgraph pieces. You love to play with your dolls. You and Milla have made up the oddest names for your dolls. You have "Johnnen, Lighty, Miss Davonia, Emily, George, Sue, and Tiny Baby" just to name a few. :)  I find these dolls lined up all over the house. Several of them look well loved and have pieces of Scotch tape on their bodies (band-aids). I am so glad that you and Milla have each other. When you are feeling like you need some attention, you pick on her. Really, though, you girls are the best of friends.

You love to color. You love Cinderella. You love the new Cinderella costume that your Gran made you for your birthday. Your Daddy is your Prince Charming. You are very content. It doesn't take much to amaze or entertain you. Recently, on a trip to the grocery store, I bought you a cheap little Cinderella coloring book. When I brought it home and presented it to you, you would have thought it was Christmas morning. You were so thankful and excited. Your little eyes lit up. You were so proud that something special had been bought just for you. You love to have your hair curled. You love to have your nails painted. You are my special girly girl. You love to play dress up and are especially enamored with some cheap Cinderella slippers that I bought you at Target. You wear them all of the time. They are usually on backwards. :) You love to help in the kitchen. You love to sit beside the mixer and add in ingredients, to help put away the dishes and take out the trash. You are a buddy. You love to sit beside Milla and listen to her read to you. You love books. You love to sit in my lap in the rocking chair and turn the pages.

You are a little bit on the dramatic side. You cry whenever you are tired. You are tired a lot. I'm not sure what's going on with that. When you skip your nap (which happens more and more frequently these days), we are in for lots of crying at the drop of a hat.

You are a little bit timid and shy and hesitant when it comes to new situations or new things. You don't like surprises or loud people or noises. When something is loud or startling (like a vacuum cleaner), you plug your fingers in your ears.

This year, we moved you to a big girl bed in a room with Milla. You two often get into trouble for talking and staying up instead of going to sleep. Rascals. Sometimes you stamp your foot adamantly and say "NO!" when you don't want to do something. You have a little independent streak in you, which I love. We're working on when and where it is appropriate to be independent...

You love your "Jackie boy" and call him your little "Manners." You try to be motherly with him, but you often succeed in aggravating him or knocking him down with your hugs.

I'm so glad we have you in our family! You are so special and sweet. I cannot imagine our family without our Mabel Emmalee in it! I am so thankful that you are ours. We pray for you often, that God will grow you up to have a heart for Him, that even now He is preparing a godly man for you to marry. It is my prayer that you will be strong and wise, that you will do great things for God's glory. We love you, sweet Mabel and are so proud of you! Happy third birthday!

Friday, August 30, 2013

To My Mary Alice girl on her twelfth birthday-

Yikes! Twelve? Really? Could it be that your time in our house is two thirds over? It boggles my mind that there are only six more years before you will be considered a legal adult? Crazy!  So now, two weeks later, I will undertake writing a birthday letter to my special, fabulous, super mature twelve year old...

Mary Alice, you are so special to your Dad and me. We love you immensely. I love seeing the young woman you are starting to become, watching you grow and change and mature. I will attempt to capture a little of who you are at age twelve and some of what the past year has held.

This is the first year that I’ve seen big, huge leaps in your spiritual maturity level.  You have changed a lot since you were eleven!! You possess a kindness, a care for the feelings of others, a self-control, and a sweetness that surpasses that of many mature Christians that I know. You have always been a bit of an old soul, but I’ve really noticed a marked difference in your spiritual maturity during this past year. I am proud of the way I’ve seen you treat some people this year who were being treated poorly by others. I am proud of the way you’ve been a friend to the friendless and done hard things. You know what I am talking about. I notice and God notices too.  I think He smiles at your sweet spirit.

I am proud of the servant that you are to others. You step up where you are needed and do what needs to be done. What a hard worker! You are my right hand girl. :) Just last week, at Abel’s birthday party, we looked up to find that you had totally cleaned up all of the birthday decorations. You had picked up everything, gotten out the vacuum cleaner and cleaned the floors and entire room. You did this all quietly and without being asked. I was so proud! This was just one occasion, but you are always a willing helper at home. Thank you for being such a good help to me.

You are a nurturer. You have expressed interest in becoming a nurse one day. I TOTALLY see your gifts being in line with that. You love people. People love you. You are good communicator. You see needs before they are pointed out and get to work, filling the needs. You have a servant heart. You love visiting with elderly people. Whatever career path you choose, I see you excelling and being a world changer, one relationship at a time.

I see your gifts and talents being developed further this year. You are a FABULOUS cook. I can count on you to cook meals for our family on a regular basis and not be worried that we are all going to have to choke them down. I was SO proud of you when, a few weeks ago, you taught a lady who is much older than you to bake a layered cake. You figured out a way to work through the recipe, improvising and making do. Even though she had only self rising flour and no buttermilk, you figured out how to make a cake that was not only beautiful, but tasty. I was so proud to see your impromptu use of lemon juice and milk as a substitute for buttermilk and your makeshift subtraction of the baking powder because you knew that self rising flour would produce a mess of a cake! I promise you that I wasn’t that capable and confident in the kitchen at your age! You amazed me with your capability and quick thinking! So proud of you!
This year, you started your own blog, which I LOVE to read! You write about some of the things you've been making, recipes you've tried, things you've crafted. Love seeing the humor in your writing this year!
            You are SO funny and creative! You make me laugh hysterically with your crazy accents and impressions of people. You are mostly spot on. It is uncanny how you can imitate people, the way they walk, talk, everything. I especially enjoy your old Southern lady impersonation. God has blessed you with a wonderful sense of humor. I credit your drama classes with pulling some of that out of you. I am smiling just thinking about it!

Your dad and I can see God continuing to pour out the wisdom that we’ve prayed for you to have. I have been so proud of your discipline in Bible study over the past school year. This year, I loved hearing how your teacher saw your post it notes and decided to start implementing that same Bible study plan herself. That’s just how you are, Mary Alice girl. Your influence reaches farther than just within your peers. Your faithfulness in reading and service to others has the power to encourage others in their spiritual walks.  Now that your Dad bought you a new Bible, you will have to start over on wearing out the pages. :)

You recently expressed to me your desire to mentor girls who were younger than you. I think that is a wonderful idea! I love watching you think Biblically and love seeing you make a difference in your world, being an example to the believers and non-believers in speech, in conduct, in love, and in purity.  

On a less serious note, I was proud to run a 5K with you this year—Color Me Rad!! Before we ran, we were in SAD shape, embarrassing shape. Afterwards, we were buff hard-bodies, sortof. We ran faithfully from January until May training for this run. Even if you hate running and never want to do it again...I sure am proud of you for persevering and finishing! I didn’t always love the running part so early in the morning either, but I dearly loved praying with you on our driveway after our morning runs. I loved holding hands with you during our cool down walk each day. I have good memories of watching the neighborhood kids getting onto the school bus as we rounded the corner towards our house each morning , and how I always felt so thankful that we had that time together, just the two of us. It was hard. It was worth it to cross the finish line with you!! We did it!

Life is full of hard things that are totally worth it, Mary Alice. I see you doing hard things, loving others when it is hard, serving when it would be easier to sit and do nothing, being a friend to those who need it, trying hard to do what is right. I am so proud of you!

I can already see how God is using you, but wonder what the future holds for my Mary Alice girl. I can’t help but think that you will go far, that you will do many wonderful things to bring glory to God in your lifetime. It is our wish that you would love the Lord and His ways all the days of your life, however long that may be, that you would seek wisdom from His Word and strive to please Him in all that you do. It is our prayer that you would walk in truth and that you would bring others along with you in that way. We pray daily that if it is His will, God would eventually send you just the right person as a life partner. We pray for him too, knowing that your choice of a spouse will influence so much of what the rest of your life will be like.  

 I see you growing in wisdom and understanding and in love for God and others. I am so proud of the example you are to your dad and me. You are a joy and a blessing to us! I couldn’t have imagined what a sweet and essential part of our family you would be when you were born twelve years ago! I thank God for blessing us with you for twelve years. You’re a sweet one. I love you so very very much! Happy birthday, Mary Alice!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

To my littlest man Jack on your first birthday-

What a special gift you are to your dad and me! This year with you has flown by so quickly! It is hard to believe that our little man is already turning one!

A few things about you at one year old... You are sweet and cuddly, but VERY active. You want to explore everything! You get into everything- drawers, cabinet doors, your sisters’ play kitchen.  You delight in making big messes and lots of noise! I love it! Most of what you do you do with gusto, followed by a big smile that says, “Look at me! Aren’t I funny?” Of course, everything you do is followed with squeals of laughter from your siblings or maybe sometimes a playful scolding and a “No, sir!” if you did something you weren’t supposed to do.

You are a little man of few words. What you do say, you communicate with your big blue eyes and your chubby little fingers. You point at EVERYTHING. I can tell that you are trying so hard to say something. It’s like the words are stuck in the back of your throat and won’t come out. I know you are listening, though. I know what you mean, even though you haven’t found your words yet.  Right now, you can clearly say Mama, Dada, Bye bye, buh buh, and uh oh. Uh oh is something you say often. :)

You have been toddling around for about a month now and are getting better at walking every day.  On occasion you still do this funny little one legged crawl. You crawl normally on the carpet, but when you get on a hard floor surface, you change to this scooting crawl where you drag one leg behind you. So cute! You are quite a climber. You can make it up the stairs in only a few seconds. We cannot take our eyes off of you for even a moment!

You love to play with balls. You have a rough boy throw, which I like. You love wheels.  I know I can keep you occupied for at least half an hour if I turn the wagon or one of the kids’ bicycles upside down. You will stare at and spin those wheels for a long time. You love to carry around Major’s baseball bat. You love to push around the girls’ shopping cart and strollers. One of your favorite toys right now is my broom. It is so weird. If I leave the laundry room door open, you will quickly make your way back there, pull the broom down off of the wall and hold onto it for a LONG time. It is really strange.  You are my first kid who has been obsessed with getting in the toilet. I never knew what those toilet safety locks were for until you came along. You crazy guy! If someone leaves the bathroom door open, you are known to make a b-line in there and start splashing away. Gross. The kids and I try to keep the door closed until you can learn how to behave better. :)

Your dad says that I spoil you. I try so hard not to, but just can’t get enough of you. It doesn’t seem to bother me that much that you still get up at least once in the middle of the night. I want to cuddle you longer and hold you more. Maybe it is because I know how quickly babies turn into big kids. Maybe it is because you are my last baby. Maybe it is because you are just too cute and special and I can see changes in you every day. Whatever the reason, I sure have been enjoying the time that you are my baby.  I am determined not to follow the pattern that people sometimes get into of treating their youngest children like babies for too long, unintentionally shaping them into self centered and irresponsible people. However, I do not think that extra love and snuggles given to a one year old can be doing too much damage.  
You love your siblings...except when you don’t. You have been known to pull hair and pinch when they are in your face. Rascal. You especially love Mary Alice. She is a second mother to you. She loves you so much! Major helps out too. You think he’s pretty neat.  Milla’s antics always make you laugh. That girl loves to put on a show for you. You reward her efforts with a huge grin and laughter. You don’t feel the love for Mabel  just yet. Maybe one day.

You love to eat almost everything! You have gulped down almost anything we have ever given you to eat and asked for more. Some of your favorites right now are peaches, broccoli, green beans, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, french fries :/, and birthday cake with ice cream. :) 

People are constantly remarking on what a handsome and happy baby you are. They are right. Aside from the getting up in the middle of the night to nurse and the getting into everything, you are such a sweet and easy guy. I am so blessed to be your mama.  I am so proud of my Jack boy. We are so glad that God gave you to our family. I look forward to watching you grow up. I wonder what kind of a man you will become. It is my daily prayer that you will grow up to love the Lord with all that you have and that you will teach others about Him and His ways. Your dad and I pray constantly for the man you’ll be, for the friends you’ll have, and for the type of wife you will choose, should you choose to marry.   We pray for wisdom in raising you and pray for God to grab your heart. We love you so much and thank God for the blessing of you.  Happy first birthday, buddy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Narnian Restaurant Surprise

        My kids are the best kids ever. No really. They are downright amazing and fantabulous. I love them to bits. I had to write a post about what they did tonight.

        It started with last night. Mary Alice and Major came up to me and told me that they would be making dinner the following night and that I was to ask no questions about the matter. I was, however, supposed to take them to the grocery store for a few "supplies." That's all they would tell me, just a vague hint..."supplies." Supplies, huh? This could be really great or really expensive and messy. Their track record is pretty good on surprises, so I decided to go along with their request not to ask questions and wait to be surprised.

        This afternoon, they informed me that they would be working in the kitchen and that I wasn't to come around for any reason. I used this opportunity to take a nap and take a hot relaxing bath. I could smell pleasant smells coming from the kitchen and could hear talking that hinted that they were getting along well, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself while waiting for the moment when the surprise would finally make it's appearance.

        I was greeted at the door to my room by Mary Alice. She was holding a pillow with a crown on it. She told me to come to the kitchen and be seated. She and Major placed crowns on our heads and took our orders. Those rascals had not only created an amazing meal (I'll describe that later.), but had based it off of an awesome theme from one of my favorite magical fictional worlds, Narnia. They had created a little restaurant called "Cair Paravel Cuisine."  The table was set with my china and red fancy goblets. We were dubbed High King Peter and Queen Susan by the Maitre D and promptly served a Narnian feast fit for a king and queen, which we were. See our crowns?

 Um, This King looks super cute and kingly enough.  Nevermind the wench posing as a queen who is hanging on the King's shoulder. That girl looks like something that the royal cat had just dragged in! She had just stepped out of her bath and was suffering from wet hair and no make-up. Yikes.

 The Menu-  This food was SERIOUSLY good. I knew that the food was going to very possibly be yummy when I overheard Mary Alice saying something to Major this afternoon about a roux that she was going to be making for the dinner. We were served garlic and herb chicken, mushrooms with cream sauce, mashed potatoes, asparagus, strawberries with cream, and Mary Alice's own creation--Turkish Delight. We both chose the "spiced wine" to drink with our meal. It was amazing!!! I was most impressed with Mary Alice's rendition of Turkish Delight. I wish I had gotten a picture of it. Mary Alice has actually tasted Turkish Delight once, so she made up her own recipe based on what she thought it tasted like. She made us "Turkish Delight" out of three ingredients: gummy bears, corn syrup, and powdered sugar. It sounds nasty, but was surprisingly yummy.  If you look closely on the menu, you will also see something about "Plumptree's Vitaminized Nerve Food."  Hilarious! Major explained it to me. It was some Narnian reference that I didn't remember from the books.

 The sign on the outside of the restaurant reads "Welcome to Cair Paravel Cuisine. Proudly serving the finest foods since the Lord Digory's time. P.S. All followers of Tash will not be admitted."  HA! Love those creative kids.

Jack was waiting for his meal. This guy LOVES food. He tried to eat his napkin while waiting on the meal to be served. Narnian food wasn't his favorite.

 Here we go.... This was the first course. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the beautiful strawberries and cream and Turkish Delight. I was too distracted with feeding Hungry Jack.

 My precious girl. This girl is an amazing cook for her age. I'm so proud of her!

Major loves the Chronicles of Narnia. A restaurant based on Narnia was his idea.

 Milla and Mabel wanted to wear our crowns for a little while. :)

 My Jack boy after dinner. He is growing up so fast! Ten months old!!
 After dinner, Josh and the older kids played a game of Knockout in the driveway.
Mabel gets comfy while Josh reads to them from their Bible story book before bed. She loves her daddy.
See? I told you I had the best kids ever. :)

The Compound

         Our family was blessed to be able to make a quick trip last weekend. We got a chance to visit a little place called "The Compound." The Compound is a little piece of Heaven right in the middle of Texico, New Mexico. Josh's Grandparents, Aunt and Uncle, two cousins, and their families all have houses built on the same plot of land. Their houses are all in a semicircle connected by a wooden walkway. They jokingly refer to it as "The Compound." It is a fun place to be. Josh's family has built a little Oasis right out in the middle of the dirt. It is always so much fun to go for a visit, not just because of the fun things there are to do, but because of the people we get to see.  We always leave "The Compound" with our hearts full. 
This blog is heavy on pictures and lighter on words. Believe it or not, I actually cut out lots of pictures. There were so many sweet ones, that it was hard for me to decide. 

Josh's family (His grandparents, Uncle Craig and Aunt Deon) with the kids  Love these people!
We met Craig and Deon at Fuddruckers in Lubbock on our way to The Compound. Craig and Deon took Mary Alice, Major, and their grandson, AJ to an Acapella concert that night. It was the kids' first real concert. They loved it! Jack thought Craig was really funny.
The Compound is highly entertaining to my kids. They always wear themselves out playing outside on the trampolines, go-carts and running around with their cousins. They are making some great memories. 
Milla girl loved the trampoline. So cute! 
Mary Alice and Major drove this Go-Cart all around the place. Mary Alice seemed like a speed demon. Watch out drivers! This girl will be on the roads in a few more years! 
Maje had fun playing baseball with AJ, Brice, and his dad.
The folks at The Compound are always working on some sort of interesting home improvement project. Right now, they are building this beautiful pond. I think it is going to be a duck pond, but is deep enough that people can swim in it. What fun! 
Mabel loves Mindy. Both of my girls love to hang out with Mindy and her girls.  
The girls got to feed Granddad's chickens. Then, Granddad let them get the freshly laid eggs out of the henhouse. My city girls were amazed. :) Craig and Deon let us take a few dozen eggs home.
Nima and Papa (Josh's other grandparents) and Uncle Troy and Aunt Ronda came down from Portales to visit The Compound. Everyone loves to visit The Compound. 

 Nima and Jack

Nima and Papa, Troy and Ronda with a few of the kids. I think the others were off on Go-carts, trampolines, etc. These were the only two kids we could find.


This girls loves her Nima!

Papa was so cute in his little hat! He was eating a powdered cookie that got all over his clothes. 

Grandmother and Milla girl
Grandmother with sweet Mabel
One last picture of our family with the sweet Grandparents before we headed back home.