Thursday, April 29, 2010

This made me feel better......

I hope it encourages you too!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Havilah is Two!!!

Our sweet Havilah turns two today!!! It's so hard to believe how fast she has gone from an adorable little baby to an irresistible little girl. Havi is truly one of a kind and continues to blow us away with her dynamic personality. Every day with her is a real treasure and we praise the Lord for blessing us with such a priceless jewel!

If you want filled in on her birth story, just click here .

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Three Months Old

Our sweet Ella Joy is three months old today~
I simply cannot believe how fast the time is flying by! (If I had a penny for every time I've said that......). Ella is ( suprise, suprise) still the dearest and sweetest little bug. Never have I seen a baby more aptly named. Joy,joy, joy is what she brings to us every day!

Her newest talent is laughing. I don't think I've ever heard anything more precious! She also has a great nack for making new friends. Every time someone new holds her, she gives them one of her winning smiles that endears her to them forever.
Yep, we're hooked!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Celebrating Today!

I'm feeling the need to shake off the "My children hold me back", " I can't do what I want to do", "All my friends have fabulous lives, but I'm stuck at home" mentality. I seriously want to stretch, shake my whole body and scream " My children are a blessing from the Lord! They bring heaps of joy into my life! Never would I want to trade one moment of my stinky diaper, sticky fingered, runny nosed, never ending car seat buckling life!"

In the following pictures (just snapped five minutes ago) is just a glimpse of my crazy, wild, funny, FABULOUS life with my babies.

Here we have the big girls playing doctor. Yes, Bethany dressed herself this morning. Yes, Havi is sporting her winning smile, has no pants and is sitting next to a dirty diaper.

Here's my sweet Ella. She needs a bath. She smells like sour milk, but dare I admit that I think it's kind of sweet!
Here's the peanut butter face that I kissed over and over. Hugs and kisses always make life sooooo much better ( plus I got a little protein as a bonus!).
Now the question is, can you see what a blessed woman I am, or do you feel sorry for me? If you feel sorry for me, than I feel sorry for you. I can imagine nothing more fulfilling or fun then the life God has blessed me with. Mommys, go kiss your babies!!!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Smiling Practice

The "Perfected Smile" faze is so funny to me. They go from a cooing and grinning baby, to suddenly realizing that they are supposed to smile. Havi has been desperately working on getting her "perfect" smile down. Believe me, it's not as easy as it looks!

(Disclaimer~ All photos were taking during a time of joy. As painful as they may look, there was no pinching involved!)

Every now and then, all of the toil and hard work pays off and we get one of these. And that's why we walk around smiling all day!

Now, I know by this point you are all distracted. "How does the child function with all that hair in her face???". Welcome to Havilah's world. Mommy really does try. Really. Really.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Grocery Shopping, Here We Come!

Grocery Shopping. For some, the mention of it fills the heart with excitement. For some, drudgery. And for mommys with a few little ones, it often fills the heart with panic and depression.

When I only had my sweet Lydia, I felt like prime model of a shopping parent. Of course, what can really go wrong when you have an infant sleeping peacefully in her car seat with tiny arms that could never come close to touching anything?

When Bethany was born, I discovered the amazing secret power to successful shopping: The Aunties! Having another big person along to hold onto a little person brought much peace of mind.

When Havi was born, the auntie became a necessity! The only problem at this time was, my sisters were getting older, and with that came a much more responsibility filled life. As much as I hated to see it, they weren't available at my beck and call 24/7. ( They are still a tremendous help to me! It just takes a little more planning!)

Knowing that #4 was on the way and knowing that my help was harder to arrange, I started doing some careful considering. Why was I having these feelings of dread? What was this lie that had convinced me that I wasn't able to control my own children?

I sheepishly concluded what a bunch of bologna this all was. I am striving every day to raise obedient and self-controlled children. I love being with my children. I love watching them interact with other people. Why was I so afraid to bring them into a testing ground when I was right there to supervise the whole thing?

So we started laying the boundaries. We've done it two different ways; Ella in a front wrap with Havilah in the cart and Havilah in a back wrap with Ella in the cart. Lydia and Bethany have their set of rules. I just asked Lydia what the rules for shopping were and she said, "Don't touch anything. Don't be wild. Be friendly to people. Don't be grumpy." She missed, Don't climb on the cart and walk up by mommy so you don't get run over. Fitting since those are the two most often forgotten!

Now this might sound obnoxious to you, as if I have to be barking orders all of the time. But it's not like that at all. We simply review the "dos and don'ts" on the way to wherever we are going in a loving, fun manner. There usually have to be a few gentle reminder when we are there. There is no threatening or bribing. My girls know the importance of obedience, and also the consequences for disobedience.

Here's the key. There rarely is any middle ground. If I clearly lay the boundaries then my children are either obeying or disobeying. If my children will not obey me in public, than I have bigger problems than grocery shopping.

Once I threw out the myth of "It can't be done!", we have had a blast! I LOVE going grocery shopping with my girls! It is one of the highlights of my month .

While this arrangement has worked beautifully for us, I decided yesterday that it is about time to start training Havi on the fine arts of grocery shopping. A challenge? YES! A fear? NO WAY!!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Signing Fun!

I was first introduced to doing sign language with babies with my sister Rachel. Rachel was very slow to talk (my parents even had her hearing tested) but she caught onto the signing quickly and easily. When Lydia was small we signed with her as well. It was fabulous to have a toddler who, even though she couldn't talk, could sign please, thank-you, more, food, drink etc..

Bethany was an early talker. By fifteen months she would ask "I get down?" every time she got down from anything (even a single step). We tried signing with her, but it went about like this: Mommy~ "Say more Bethany!" (signing "more" contagiously and perhaps obnoxiously!) Bethany~ "More!" (as clear as a bell). Since the point of signing was communication, we didn't push it.

You may remember last fall, as we were struggling to find the right gift for Bethany's third birthday. One of the ideas we had was "Signing Time". I had heard of theses videos before but had never seen them. We decided to take a chance, not that Bethany needed to learn to sign, but we thought that the girls would enjoy them and that perhaps the little ones would pick it up too. All the girls loved it!

It has been especially GREAT for Havilah who still isn't talking very much. Not only did she catch onto the signs quickly, she enjoyed it, and enjoys even more being able to communicate with us better. Here's a sample of some of her favorites!

Signing has been tons of fun for our family. And it's helped with so many "could be frustrating" moments where the little one can actually express what they are wanting or seeing without just fussing about it. I can't wait for all of us to learn some more signs!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring Retreat

My parents are the AMF ( American Missionary Fellowship) Area Directors for our area. That holds many responsibilities including, running the Spring Retreat and summer camp. I grew up going to camp. Because my daddy was always there, I got to go quite young. I will spare you first year pictures. I had just had the worst bang cut of my life ( I've forgiven you Mom!) and had to rely on my personality that year!

I started cabin leading at a young age too. I won't tell you how young for fear of freaking you out. ( Don't worry, there are much stricter guidelines for staff now!). I continued helping at camps and retreats after I got married through one pregnancy, one baby and onto my second pregnancy. After Bethany was born though, it became clear that my role was now to stay home, take care of my babies and pray. While it is hard at times, I don't regret one moment of my "lot in life". My dream has always been to be a mommy and not a cabin leader.

However, as Spring Retreat rolled around this year, my parents found themselves at the last minute in need of another girl's leader. What started out as a joke, rolled into reality quickly when my sister Mary (recently married to Peter) said that they would love to take the girls for those three days. Mary has spent a GREAT amount of time with our girls and there is hardly anyone I would trust more than Peter and Mary.

So, I went. Ella Bug was my little bunk mate and she did wonderfully! It was so much fun to be back working with the youth and watching the Lord work in their lives.

(My amazing cabin! Gracie, Larissa, Juli, Rachel, Ida, Joy, Me and Charity.)

The theme of the retreat was "Raising the Bar". We had several great speakers who really challenged us about specific areas of our life and how we can choose to honor the Lord. It was excellent! I know I was poked and prodded a little! The kids seemed really challenged too.

It was a wonderful few days. Great speaking. Great activities, ( my amazing girls came in third in the great challenge, beat only by boy's cabins!). My girls were so precious. It was beautiful to see these young women truly desiring to be used by the Lord. They were such an encouragement!
It was fun being able to serve alongside my husband again. Just like the old days!

I was sooooo ready to come home to my babies though! They had a fabulous time! I'm still hearing stories of pancakes made into letters, rides in the wagon behind the three-wheeler, chickens, cows, sheep, dogs, kittens, and the donkey. There's nothing like farm life!

I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to be a part of the Spring Retreat. I'm more thankful though for where the Lord has placed me. Every day is such an exciting opportunity to see what He has planned for me!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Special Kind of Birthday!

Last Tuesday was Lydia's first spiritual birthday. I can't believe it's already been a year since that morning that she chose to put her faith in Jesus and asked Him to wash away her sins. We had a small celebration topped with frosted brownies and Christmas sprinkles. We prayed for Lydia and each shared some way that we've seen her become more like Jesus this year.
It has been such a joy to watch her grow this last year. It is so amazing to watch the Holy Spirit work in one this young, convicting her of sin and prompting her towards obedience and love.  I often hear her challenging herself (or her sisters) " Does this attitude make Jesus happy or Satan happy?". Lydia is a joy and loves deeply those around her. What a beautiful thing it is to have your child be a child of the King!