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!