Monthly Archives: May 2013

Lessons learned from storms

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In the midst of the storms of life it is important to remember why you are there. Your placement is not random, your reason is not unknown..you are there in that hard moment because that is where you were placed by a loving God who wants only the best for you. We often look around in the midst of the storm raging around us and question, “Why?”   Why does it have to be so hard? Why can’t I catch a break? Why can’t this struggle be over already? Usually the answers to those “why” questions don’t come in the moments we are wanting them to come. Usually they come years later when the storm is past and the struggle is over..if the answer comes at all. We can’t see the big picture. We don’t have the larger vision. That is why in the midst of that storm raging it becomes all the more imperative that we trust and rely on the God of all, who does see the big picture, and trust that He is working this hard part of our life for our greater good.

It has been said, “Be careful what you wish for..you just might get it!” I could take that one step further and say,”Be careful what you pray for..God just might answer.” And His answer doesn’t always come in the form you would expect. I pray often for humility. I long to set down my sins of control and pride. I want to be able to honestly pray, “Thy will be done” and mean it. (Not “Thy will be done if it matches my plan!) I want to care more about the opinion of my Heavenly Father than the opinion of others. I desire to be more patient. I long to set aside my own agenda and plans and follow His path for me. This is a battle I fight daily. My intentions are good but I find myself failing time and time again..so I pray. I pray for humility…and God answers.

C.R. Findley once said:

“Answers to prayers often come in unexpected ways. We pray, for instance, for a certain virtue; but God seldom delivers Christian virtues all wrapped up in a package ready to use. Rather He puts us in situations where by His help we can develop those virtues. Henry Ward Beecher told of a woman who prayed for patience, and God sent her a poor cook. The best answers to prayer may be the vision and strength to meet a circumstance or assume a responsibility.”

My loving God has answered my prayers time and time again. I prayed for patience and humility and God has sent me Tyler. Tyler has taught our family so much. He is a blessing but that doesn’t mean he is always easy. I prayed for humility and I got it! Yesterday was a tough day. He tested..he pushed..he fought..the storm raged at our house. In the midst of the storm I prayed and I asked the question, “Why?”

Why now, God, after so many good days? Why today when we are nearing the end of school and there is so much to be done? Why this battle when I thought we had resolved this issue?  Why..why..why?

The answer: because that is how God answers those pleas of my heart. I long to do better. I desire to be more Christlike.  So He honors those desires and gives me opportunities to learn those virtues that I desire.

I pray for patience and He gives me opportunities to learn it as I explain to a little boy once more why we don’t color on ourselves or others with Sharpies.

I pray for humility and am given the chance to learn it as I carry a little boy who is screaming, “I hate you, Momma! You’re the worst mom in the whole world!” as I walk out of a crowded store with people watching and wondering.

I pray for the ability to let go of my agenda and plans and be open to what God has planned for my day and He gives me a rebellious little boy who must be carried out to the fencepost for the 8th time and it is only noon. Hours I had planned for school and chores are now being used to teach another type of lesson…perhaps the more valuable lesson.

I pray for gentleness and a sweet spirit and am tested as I try to love this broken little boy in the same way Christ would love him when all I really want to do is turn the hose on him.

I pray for self-control and learn that lesson as things of worldly value are broken and destroyed and I try not to lose my temper. I am reminded that trust and a fragile spirit crushed by words of anger are much harder to repair than a broken plate.

I pray for the attributes of a good mother and wife and I learn them, not on those easy days, but in the midst of the storms.

It is in those dark hours when I ask “Why” that I learn the most profound lessons. I learn humility when I call out for God’s help because I can’t do it anymore. When I am at the end of myself, when I have no more talents to pull from, when there are no more tricks up my sleeves, when there is nothing left to give.. I am humbled. I know that I am nothing, that I have nothing, that I can do nothing without God’s grace and then when I am broken and raw He reveals himself in the most glorious of ways and I see the truth:  With Him all things are possible!

“Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.”

 

 

 

 

“Good things come to those who bait”

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Herbert Hoover once said:

“To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of the sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is a discipline in the equality of men- for all men are equal before fish.”

Tyler has been asking to go fishing for months. Between bad weather, work, and the forever pressing items on the “to do” list we just haven’t been able to grant that request. This weekend we were finally able to honor the promise of “we will take you fishing soon.” It was a perfect day to take the kids fishing. The sun was out and  the temperature was in the 7os. Toby, with the help of the boys, gathered and packed all the fishing poles and fishing supplies while the girls helped me pack a picnic lunch for our trip to the lake.

After the car was packed with fishing poles, food and drinks, camping chairs and a blanket the kids were given the task of finding worms to fish with. Gracie wanted nothing to do with “worm hunting” but the other three eagerly began the search for worms under rocks and logs around the yard. After they had found enough worms to fill the container Toby had given them it was time to head to a park nearby.

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When we arrived we found a place in the sun to set up our chairs and Toby began the task of getting each of the kids’ poles set up. Toby and I didn’t have current fishing licenses so we just helped the kids fish. It worked out well. Even if Toby had a current license he wouldn’t have been able to do much fishing. There was a constant line of kids waiting to have a fish taken off the line or have their fishing line untangled which kept Toby busy the entire time.

Tyler

Tyler

Tyler did try to help Toby out by helping the girls take fish off their lines.

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Toby made the kids bait their own hooks…much to the girls’ disappointment. They decided to work as a team to bait their hooks. Molly doesn’t mind holding the worms but can’t stand the idea of hurting a living thing and Gracie won’t touch a worm but has no problem stabbing it with a hook as long as she doesn’t have to touch it so they came up with a system where Molly would hold the worm while Grace would stab it with a hook. This, of course, was done with much squealing and screaming. 🙂

The girls working together to try to bait their hook.

The girls working together to try to bait their hook.

Gracie finally decided to try fishing with a cracker (She could touch those!) but discovered that fish don’t like Cheez-its.

Gracie's experimental bait. :)

Gracie’s experimental bait. 🙂

The three older kids were all able to catch a few fish. They were only catching small Blue Gills but they found it thrilling just the same.

Rusty fishing..

Rusty fishing..

Molly with a baby Blue Gill that she caught..

Molly with a baby Blue Gill that she caught..

Then she caught a bigger Blue Gill

Then she caught a bigger Blue Gill

Gracie was really thrilled when she caught a baby Catfish. The kids had fun checking it out before we threw it back into the lake.

A baby Catfish!

A baby Catfish!

 

Poor Tyler..the one who most wanted to go fishing..didn’t catch a thing. Toby told him that he needed to cast and then just let the line sit for a while until he saw his bobber sink and then reel it in but Tyler just didn’t have the patience for that. He enjoys casting too much! He spent the afternoon casting and then immediately reeling the bait in to cast again. Tyler was perfecting the art of fishing as one author described it…  “Fishing is the art of drowning worms.”  🙂

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It was a wonderful day! It was so much fun to get away from the house and enjoy the beauty of nature and some special family time. As I sat on the shoreline watching the kids talk and laugh together I whispered a prayer of thanks for this life that God has blessed me with. My heart overflows with gratitude!

Two of my greatest blessings!

Two of my greatest blessings!

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Unknown

My beautiful girls!

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Today we had the rare treat of having a day without the boys. We had a bridal shower to attend earlier in the day while Toby was working on rebuilding a pond at his aunt’s house. We thought Tyler would do better with big machines than bridal shower games so Toby won the coin toss and got Tyler and Rusty for the day. The shower was over by 1:00 so the girls and I then found ourselves in the rare position of having an entire afternoon with no boys, no appointments or obligations, and no pressing items on the “to do” list. This happens so rarely that we were at a loss as to what to do with this temporary reprieve from responsibility so like any all-American teenage girl Gracie suggested we go shopping. 🙂 We first headed to Target to pick up some items  that I needed. We had fun window shopping and enjoying the Target experience. 🙂 After we left there Gracie suggested we go get haircuts. Gracie has been asking for weeks if she could get her hair trimmed but it just keeps falling to the bottom of the priority list. She has been so patient about having to wait that I thought it was the perfect opportunity for some pampering time.

The "Before" picture

The “Before” picture

Both girls initially planned on just getting a trim but after much discussion in the backseat of the car they decided to be brave and go for a bigger change. Gracie decided that she wanted to try having bangs and Molly made the brave decision to have A LOT cut off for a new summer cut. Molly was the most nervous. She has worked hard to grow out her hair and was afraid that she might regret such a drastic change. She was also concerned that Toby wouldn’t like it (Toby likes long hair on his girls) and she didn’t want to disappoint him. I love that she cares what her Daddy thinks. 🙂 Well, she did have it cut and she was thrilled with the results. Both girls were very happy with their new looks.

The "After" picture

The “After” picture

When we arrived home the girls helped me get some chores done around the house..dusting, dishes and laundry..and then it was time to play! We put on a “chick-flik” and pulled out all of our pampering products for our “at home spa.” We gave each other foot massages and pedicures, did facials with a neat peal-off face mask, and then did manicures on each other. It was so much fun and it made me realize how much I treasure “girl time” with my girls. We don’t get it very often but that only makes me treasure it all the more when we do.

I am so grateful for my daughters. They are one of my greatest blessings and dearest treasures. I am so proud of the young women they are becoming and I feel humbled that Heavenly Father chose me to be their mother. They are beautiful girls..both inside and out! 🙂

“Is it broken?” – Update

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Yesterday we had an appointment with an Orthopedic doctor. We were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get in quickly. When we arrived the waiting room was packed. The boys grabbed the last few open seats while I went to the window to check Rusty in. The girls were at home. With only a couple of weeks left of school they opted to stay home and try to get some grammar lessons done rather than hang out in a waiting room. Gracie did send her DS (hand-held video game) with Tyler as a help for me, hoping it would help occupy him while we waited. She is so thoughtful. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long. We were soon called back and put in an exam room to wait for the doctor. We played another rousing game of “I Spy” while waiting for the doctor.

Waiting for the doctor..

Waiting for the doctor..

When the doctor came in he introduced himself and asked Rusty where it hurt. Rusty pointed to the bottom half of his thumb and the doctor responded with, “That is where it should hurt because that is where it is broken.” He explained that due to the type and location of the break Rusty would have to be in  a cast for 4 weeks. As the doctor spoke Tyler bounced around him, chattering a mile a minute. Rusty didn’t say much, he just nodded his head when the doctor would ask  him a question. The doctor commented on the two extremes of my boys..one wouldn’t speak and the other wouldn’t stop speaking! 🙂 He then asked Rusty what color cast he would like. Rusty chose orange (his favorite color) much to Tyler’s disappointment. He thought Rusty should have picked green. As the doctor gathered his supplies and began to prep for the cast Tyler was right by his side questioning his every move. The doctor told him that if he wouldn’t sit still he was going to put him to work. Tyler readily agreed to be the doctor’s assistant. The doctor had Tyler hold Rusty’s hand still while he applied the cast. Halfway through the procedure the nurse walked in ready to assist. The doctor told her that he didn’t need her help and that he had a hired a new helper. Tyler thought it was pretty funny when the doctor told the nurse that she was fired and that Tyler was going to be his new nurse.

Rusty outside the doctor's office sporting his new, bright orange cast.

Rusty outside the doctor’s office sporting his new, bright orange cast.

When he was done fixing Rusty’s thumb up he gave Rusty instructions on the care of his cast and told him that he would see him in 4 weeks to remove it. We were in and out in about an hour. Rusty was eager to get home to show the girls and let them sign it. On the drive home he tried to decided who he wanted to sign it. Due to the fact that it is only a hand cast rather than an arm cast he has limited signing space so he has to be selective. 🙂 He did tell Tyler that he could be the first to sign it since he helped put it on. Tyler was thrilled! He chose the spot of honor..Rusty’s thumb. 🙂

Gracie signing the cast after Tyler

Gracie signing the cast after Tyler

“Is it broken?”

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“Is it broken?”

I think these words have spoken in our home more this past year than in the last five years combined. Every crash, every yell, every “Momma!” was followed by a, “Is it broken?” There was a lot of questioning, “Is it broken?” earlier this week. Tyler was out of his medication and we didn’t realize it until I opened his bottle and discovered it empty. I called the pharmacy and they said that they would have it ready in the afternoon for Toby to pick up on his way home from work…but boy did we pay for that oversight. Tyler had a tough day. He was in a mood, angry at the world, and made sure that we all knew it. My day was spent breaking up fights, correcting, calming hurt feelings and disciplining. I finally had it..and lost it. Tyler was mad at Rusty for not picking a show that he wanted to watch during Rusty’s free time so he kept walking over to the TV and turning it off while Rusty was watching his show. The situation was quickly escalating. I told Tyler to stop and he responded with, “You can’t make me!” I was in the middle of making lunch at the time. In my hand was a pitcher of ice water that I was carrying to the table. I don’t know what came over me but I found myself walking into the living room, carrying that pitcher of water.  I did not say a word but in the middle of Tyler yelling, “You’re not my boss!” I found myself dumping a gallon of ice water over that little boy’s head. He stood there in shock, dripping wet, with a lemon slice perched in his hair and sputtering in disbelief. I turned and walked back into the kitchen without saying a word. After a few moments of silence Tyler yelled,”I’m not cleaning up this mess!” before he took off for his room. Ok, perhaps that wasn’t a shining moment in my mothering memoir but boy did it feel good and it “cooled off” a very heated moment.

Later in the day Tyler had to sit down and take an online test that is required by the school four times a year. He didn’t want me to help him. He wanted Gracie instead. He told me that she was a better reader than me. Gracie very sweetly agreed to help him. As we sat in the diningroom together I could see Gracie’s frustration growing as she tried to keep Tyler on track and focused on the test. He looked out the window, rolled a pencil across the table, and did flips off his chair. Gracie tensed in frustration, giving me a “look” over his head. I had to laugh as I looked into her face and saw the same expression I wear quite often when teaching Tyler.

“Consider this practice for when you become a kindergarten teacher,” I told her.

“I don’t think it will be like this,” she answered me.

“You might end up with 10 ADHD boys in your class,” I informed her.

She responded with, “Ugh!”

We didn’t realize Tyler was even listening to our conversation until we heard him respond from under the table, “Welcome to my world!”

Gracie and I died. His comedic timing was perfect. Funny kid!

“Is it broken” took on an entirely different meaning the next day. For youth activities on Tuesday night the boys and girls played Canadian Dodgeball together. I took Tyler with me because Toby had to work late. When he saw the kids getting the balls out for dodgeball he begged to be able to participate. I was a bit nervous letting him play dodgeball with some of those teenage boys but I figured they would probably be a bit gentler with him. It turns out that my worries were misplaced because it wasn’t Tyler who was injured, it was Rusty. In an attempt to catch a fast-moving dodgeball Rusty jammed his thumb. We put ice on it and had Toby look at it when we arrived home. We thought it was just sprained but the next morning when Rusty came out of his bedroom we saw that it was swollen and  black and blue so we thought we better have it checked out.

Rusty at MedExpress.

Rusty at MedExpress.

When we arrived at MedExpress they put Tyler and I in an examine room while Rusty was taken back to get x-rays of his thumb. (The girls were at home doing schoolwork) Soon Rusty was back with us and we playing an exciting game of “I spy” for 20 minutes while we waited for the doctor. When the doctor came in she informed us that it was broken and that she would place a temporary cast on it until we could see Orthopedics. Well, Rusty wins for the first broken bone in our family. I thought for sure that honor would go to Tyler. Today we will visit the Orthopedic group that will tell us exactly what we are dealing with and what the treatment plan will be.

Rusty..."Is it broken?" :)

Rusty…”Is it broken?” 🙂

Let your children be your “teachers” not your “trophies.”

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Home sweet Home

Home sweet Home

Years ago I attended a MOPS convention (Mothers of Preschoolers) where I had the opportunity to hear amazing women speak on a variety of mothering topics. One class in particular resonated with me and the message has stayed with me through these last 8 years. She spoke on the importance of letting our children serve as “teachers” rather than “trophies.” Children are not given to us so that we can prove to the world our own value through their talents, gifts and good manners. I will be honest, this is something that I have always struggled with. I am a people pleaser, I am a controller, I  crave approval, I’m a “typical” first-born child that assesses my value and worth by the comments of others..it is a sin that I struggle with. Knowing this is a sin I struggle with I have tried hard to remember the words of that speaker and remember that these children that Heavenly Father has blessed me with came to me not to be a trophy that I could hold up to the world and say, “See, look at how good a mother I am,” but rather teachers that would helped me learn and grow and become a more Christlike woman. None of my children have served as a teacher more greatly than Tyler. From him I have learned the lessons of patience, humility, and unconditional love. This week’s lesson: Letting go of the things I can’t control and trusting God.

The welcome sign that the kids made for our visitors.

The welcome sign that the kids made for our visitors.

Last week we received a call from a friend with some exciting news. The first counselor of the Primary general presidency of our church was going to be in the area with other church leaders to do auxiliary training with local leadership and she wanted to bring Sister Jean Stevens to our home to meet our two primary age children, Rusty and Tyler, and to share more about Tyler’s story and our adoption journey. While thrilled at this opportunity I also felt the weight of dread settle in the pit of my stomach as I considered all that could go wrong with her visit. I just never know what I will get with Tyler. Some days he is all joy and giggles and other times we spend the day working through the scars of his past with tears, frustrations and visits to the fence post for time-out. I was kept awake at night with visions of him throwing  dishes, having a meltdown over having his picture taken, or him hiding under the bed refusing to come out. I became even more concerned as the week went on and I tried to prepare him for the visit by telling him that some special ladies were coming to visit him on Friday and he would respond, “I think I’m going to be busy that day.”  🙂 After days of fretting and many sleepless nights worrying about what may happen or what he might say I finally knelt down and gave it to God. I prayed and prayed..not for a perfect child (although I was hoping that we wouldn’t be visiting the fencepost while they were here) but that these women would see in this little boy what I see.

God has brought me so far as a mother..(although I still have so far to go!).  Through Tyler He has helped me see that I don’t need others to view me as a good mother as much as I once did. He has humbled me and has taken me from the woman who would watch a child having a meltdown in the grocery store with such judgement in my heart to the woman with the child having the meltdown. I could cry when I think of the many times I have passed judgement in my heart on another woman’s parenting or another child’s behavior without knowing their story or the scars they carry. I am now walking in those shoes and often feel the judgement of others as my son screams and throws himself down on the floor in anger. It has been a lesson in humility and letting go of the need for other’s approval and I am grateful for that lesson…that hard, hard lesson.

Friday arrived and I felt more at peace. I recognized God’s hand in this visit. This wasn’t something I sought out so I had to trust that God had a purpose in it. When the car pulled down the driveway with Sister Stevens in it the kids were feeding the animals. After first greeting me Sister Stevens, Laura, Kaye and Ken then went to the fence to greet the kids. Tyler did not want to say hello initially but  quickly warmed up to them and began showing off his animals. He brought them the pig and a chicken to meet and then disappeared into the chicken co-op. He soon came back carrying two of the chicken eggs he collects and sells to others. He handed an egg to Sister Stevens and my friend Laura. I was so surprised by how quickly he warmed up to our guests and his desire to bless them with a gift of love..an egg.

Sister Stevens holding her egg :)

Sister Stevens holding her egg 🙂

I asked if we could get a picture with our special guest but Tyler didn’t want to join us.

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He was busy trying to catch one of the goldfish that lives in our water trough to show our new friends. While he was working on that we headed inside to get out of the sun and have a cold drink while we visited. We had a wonderful visit and Sister Stevens was amazingly gracious. Soon after we moved inside Tyler came in carrying a bucket with one of the goldfish to show Sister Stevens.

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Tyler’s “fish in a bucket”

Tyler didn’t want to sit and visit. I think he was afraid of the questions that would be asked of him. Sister Stevens did ask him what he liked about primary to which he promptly responded, “nothing!” *Cringe* but he was eager to make our guest feel welcome. Without any prompting on my part he carried sliced lemon bread in on a tray and proceeded to place the bread on napkins to hand out. The ladies lovingly accepted his offering without any comment about the dirty little boy hands that were grabbing the bread and handing out the slices. As I watched I thought to myself, “Oh, if they only knew how huge a love offering this was from him.” He then gave Sister Stevens a gifts of chocolate covered pretzels from our local candy store that he had picked out. She asked him if he wanted to open it for her which he eagerly agreed to.

Tyler helping Sister Stevens open her gift.

Tyler helping Sister Stevens open her gift.

While sitting in the livingroom the other kids had a chance to visit with Sister Stevens as well. She was so generous with her attention, questions,  and the interest she took in each of the children, making them each feel special. She asked Rusty about primary and what he enjoyed. He didn’t answer, “nothing.” 🙂 Thank goodness!

It was soon time for them to go and head to another meeting. We said our goodbyes and Sister Stevens hugged each of the older kids goodbye. Tyler wouldn’t come out and instead yelled “goodbye” from the other room but as I saw this lovely, classy woman walking toward the car, carefully carrying that dirty farm egg from Tyler, I counted my blessings. I couldn’t have imagined things going as well as they did. While not perfect or ideal according to my “pre-Tyler” mothering standards it was a beautiful, blessed visit by Heavenly Father’s standards. Here is a little boy who has come so far in his journey..a little boy who came to us broken, scarred and with very little to call his own..giving the ultimate token of his love to a stranger.. the gift of an egg…a gift from his heart…and for me, the gift of another lesson learned.

Tyler cleaning eggs

“So far, no morning sickness..but the paper cuts are terrible!”

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“So far, no morning sickness…but the paper cuts are terrible!”

While cruising the internet I saw a t-shirt with this saying and I had to laugh. Unless you have traveled down the adoption road you probably can’t fully appreciate the truth behind the humor. When Toby and I began to consider whether adoption was something God was calling us to we attended an informational seminar on adoption. We were surprised, as were many others in the class, how candid the speaker was about what we could expect during the adoption process. She didn’t pull any punches and really laid out the reality of the adoption process. She made it clear that the process to adopt wasn’t quick, easy, or without effort. As she explained the steps we would need to take, one of the women in the group spoke up and expressed her frustration over the “hoops” that she was expected to jump through just to prove that she would be a good mother. The teacher listened to her and then answered her concerns with an interesting response. She told her that to enjoy the blessing of a child we must first go through labor. For the woman who is adopting it will not be a physical labor but it will be labor. For the adoptive parent that labor comes in the form of appointments, interviews, paperwork, classes, and waiting…. waiting for that phone call to come in that tells you that they have a child for you.

Since that time I’ve thought a lot about the wisdom in those words. Having been blessed with children both through traditional labor and the labor of the adoption process I’m not sure which is the more difficult. Although very different in the ways they test your strength both require you to go through the pain to enjoy the blessing on the other side of that pain. I have seen the similarities in other ways as well..

   In August when we received the call informing us that we had been chosen as the adoptive family for Tyler it was much like finding out I was pregnant for the first time. I was giddy with excitement but also frightened by the unfamiliar path we would have to travel. When Tyler first moved in with us it was comparable to the first trimester of pregnancy. Everything is so new and we were all going through the growing pains of change. Although exciting, the first trimester was the toughest as we acclimated to our new “normal.” Then in no time at all we were into the second trimester..the “morning sickness” was felt less often and I found myself thinking, “Hey, I can do this!” Things became easier. There was less conflict, more trust, and the bond continued to grow stronger. Now, here we are into the third trimester of our “pregnancy.” I feel like a pregnant woman in her final weeks who just wants to give birth and finally hold her baby in her arms. I am looking forward to our approaching court date when Tyler’s birth certificate will confirm what I already know in my heart..that he is my son..grown under the heart of another woman delivered into my arms by God’s grace.

My baby: 58 lbs. 6 oz/ 42 inches long. 🙂

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On Wednesday we met all of our co-op friends at the park for our end of the year picnic. Soon after the kids had run off to play with their friends I had one of the other moms approach me, place a princess crown on my head and declare it the start of my baby shower. I was so surprised. I had no idea my friends were planning a shower. I was incredibly touched by their thoughtfulness and their desire to celebrate this special milestone in my life. As I began to look through the gift basket that they had prepared I struggled to hold back the tears. The basket was put together with such thought. In it there was a gift card to a restaurant so Toby and I could enjoy a night out, a gift card for a massage, many beauty/pampering products, loving notes, a book of inspiration, and beautiful gifts for my home. I don’t know when I have ever felt so loved. I think what touched me most was their acknowledgement and validation of this “pregnancy” that means so much to me. I am incredibly blessed to have such dear friends!

My "baby shower" thrown by my dearest friends as we "cheers" with grape juice :)

My “baby shower” thrown by my dearest friends as we toast eachother with grape juice 🙂

As I near the end of this “pregnancy” I know that this is just the beginning of the journey.  Although we have bypassed some of those early struggles and challenges like sleepless nights, cutting teeth, and potty training there will be other challenges to labor through in the years ahead but there will also be blessings…wonderful, magical moments that will make the many hours of painful labor well worth it. I think that teacher had it right when she said, “To fully enjoy the blessings we must first experience the labor.”

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“For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him..” – 1 Samuel 1:27

Due date :  July 23, 2013

Buttercup Goes to Daycare

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Buttercup was excited. She was going to daycare. She had a stay-at-home daddy so she had never been to daycare before but she had heard wonderful things about daycare. She heard that ducks who go to daycare get to sleep on nap mats, do crafts and eat yummy snacks.

Buttercup

Buttercup

Buttercup decided to invite some of her friends from Patchwork Farm to go with her.

Chip and Thor, the baby goats,  were very excited about visiting daycare.. but then again they are excited about any adventure! They couldn’t wait to meet the kids, make new friends, and play on the playground.

Thor

Thor

Spot, the chicken, didn’t really care to go. Small children tend to annoy her. She would have much rather  stayed home to visit with the other hens but she knows how the goats can behave when unsupervised so she volunteered to go as the farmyard chaperone.

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Buttercup also convinced Haymitch to go with her to daycare. Haymitch is a shy little bunny and daycare can be a little scary when you are shy but Buttercup promised to stay near Haymitch so he wouldn’t be scared.

Chip and Thor invited the alpacas to come along but they just rolled their eyes and pointed out the fact that they wouldn’t fit in the car.

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When Harley heard Buttercup talking about the wonderful snacks at daycare..the carrot sticks, apple slices, and animal crackers he begged to come along. He soon changed his mind, though, when he heard there would be small humans there. Instead he asked Buttercup to bring him back a cookie.

Harley D. Hog

Harley D. Hog

It was soon time to leave. Buttercup, Haymitch, Spot, Chip and Thor climbed into the car with their humans and were off to daycare!  On the way they stopped at the bank to get some money. Chip tried to tell the bank teller that he wanted some dollar bills… he loves the taste of dollar bills..but the teller just didn’t understand. Gracie tried to explain to Chip that this was the wrong type of drive-thru.

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When the animals arrived at daycare they went straight to the playground to wait for their new friends. Buttercup was a little disappointed that they weren’t going inside. She really wanted to try finger painting. Oh well, maybe next time.

Rusty and Buttercup

Rusty and Buttercup

When the little humans arrived outside Chip and Thor were very happy! They were bouncing around with excitement.  They really like meeting new friends.

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Buttercup introduced herself and couldn’t stop chatting with her new friends. Her daddy says she is a “little chatterbox” when she is excited. “Quack quack quack,”  she said. She had fun playing tag with one little girl. Buttercup is very good at tag. She never gets caught. 🙂

Haymitch was scared by all the little humans. Gracie knew he was nervous so she held him and introduced him to her new friends until he didn’t feel so shy.

Haymitch making friends

Haymitch making friends

Spot endured the experience well. “The only good thing about daycare,” she clucked,” are the snacks.”

Spot being chased by a little human.

Spot being chased by a little human.

“Miss Deb was really nice and daycare was a lot of fun,” Buttercup declared, when it was time to leave,” I would like to come back again and maybe next time Harley will come with me!”

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We will see…

The End

The blessing of mothers

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This weekend was a celebration..an opportunity to embrace the spirit of Mother’s Day and give thanks for the women who mean so much to me. It was a chance to acknowledge how my life has been touched by their lives. I have been blessed with wonderful women in my life. They have come in the form of  a loving mother, sister, grandmothers, mother-in-law, aunts, friends, and daughters. I am grateful for the examples they are to me, the lessons they teach me, and the love they so freely give me. I am blessed to have them in my life…

Crazy kids!

Crazy kids!

Friday night was a celebration of the two youngest women in my life..my daughters. How grateful I am for my daughters! On Friday night there was a Father/Son activity sponsored by our church so it was “girl night” at home. The boys packed their tent and sleeping bags while rain and golf ball sized hail fell outside. I could tell that the last thing Toby wanted to do was camp in the rain but he didn’t want to disappoint the boys. The Father/Son campout is the highlight of Rusty’s year and Tyler was excited because he had never been camping before so Toby (aka Father of the YEAR!) packed up the truck and left with his boys to make some memories. While the boys were gone the girls and I packed up half of our house to take to church to decorate for the Mother’s Day brunch that we had the next morning. We arrived at the church around 7:00 pm after stopping to buy last-minute items we needed for  and then the girls helped me decorate for a few hours. They were a big help! After we finished decorating we grabbed dinner, rented a movie, and stopped at the grocery store to buy the ingredients needed for some of the food I was making for the Mother’s Day brunch. We were home by 10:30 pm. We changed into our PJs, grabbed blankets for snuggling on the couch, filled the side table with movie snacks and drinks and sat down to begin our “girls’ night!” It was a lot of fun but by 2:00 am I had to throw in the towel and head to bed for a little sleep.. much to the disappointment of the girls. It was a wonderful night..just what I needed! I am so proud of my girls and the young women they have become. They bring me so much joy!

Mother's Day brunch

Mother’s Day brunch

The next morning we were up early, slightly regretting our late night, as we prepared for our Mother’s Day brunch. The theme was a pioneer theme. One reason we chose it was because following the brunch we were having an old-fashioned sewing bee to help the young women sew pioneer skirts for a pioneer trek  activity they will take part in this summer but we also chose that theme in honor of Mother’s Day. It gave us the opportunity to celebrate the legacy of all the mothers, grandmothers and women who came before us. This brunch was a celebration of another group of women in my life..the women from church who I am blessed to call friends.

3 of my favorite girls!

3 of my favorite girls!

While we were eating and sewing the boys were having a different sort of adventure. Poor Toby didn’t get much sleep on his campout. Tyler was up most of the night excited to be camping, cold from being water-logged, and itchy. Tyler contracted poison ivy a few days ago and despite our best efforts to heal it ourselves it has only spread over more of his body. So after coming home from the campout and taking Tyler to his soccer game Toby took him to the doctor’s office to have him checked out. The doctor confirmed our suspicion that it was now in his bloodstream and was popping out all over his body. The doctor prescribed medicine to be taken orally and some to be applied topically..hopefully the will bring Tyler some relief. Poor kid!!

poor Tyler!

Poor Tyler!

In the evening we had the opportunity to celebrate another woman in my life..my mother-in-law. I am grateful for her and the wonderful job she did raising my husband. I know that I would not be blessed with the hard-working, loving, gentle, generous and kind husband I have been blessed with if not for her mothering. I only hope that my children turn out half as well as her son has. We met Mimi Joy at Applebee’s for dinner and had a fun time catching up, eating yummy food and exchanging gifts. We said our goodbyes at the end of dinner and headed home for bed. Everyone was tired from a late night and a sleepless campout the previous night.

Mimi Joy, Molly and Gracie

Mimi Joy, Molly and Gracie

The next morning we slept in a little. That was a Mother’s Day gift in itself! The kids we eager to give me their gifts so we gathered in the livingroom soon after everyone woke up. I felt incredibly blessed as the kids took turns bringing me the homemade gifts they had created with such love and laying their love offerings on my lap. The boys each gave me a card with a message of love written inside, Molly made a tote bag for me and filled the inside with things that I enjoy, and Gracie painted a picture of our home on a canvas that she purchased at a craft store. It was beautiful and will be something I will treasure forever. I am so grateful for these children that my Heavenly Father has blessed me with. This was my first Mother’s Day with Tyler as my son. He may not have grown in my womb, as the others had, but he has certainly grown in my heart!

My Mother's Day gift from Gracie

My Mother’s Day gift from Gracie

Gracie..blessing #1

Gracie..blessing #1

Molly..blessing # 2

Molly..blessing # 2

Rusty..blessing # 3

Rusty..blessing # 3

Tyler..blessing # 4

Tyler..blessing # 4

Sunday we drove to Ohio to celebrate three more wonderful women. My mother’s aunt and cousin were visiting from Utah so we were able to see family that we don’t get to see very often..what a treat!!  I am grateful for the female relatives in my life. I am grateful for my aunts and great aunts, my grandmothers, and  my cousins but I’m especially grateful on this Mother’s Day for my mom. I have been blessed with the best mother in the world and have learned so many things from her example. From her I have learned to laugh and not take myself too seriously..I have learned the joy that come from serving others..I have learned the importance of family..I have learned that making a house a home is not just a chore but an art form. At my mother’s knee I have learned the lessons of kindness, patience, empathy, gentleness, finding joy in the journey and unconditional love..especially unconditional love. I have never doubted my mom’s love for me even when I wasn’t all that loveable  (Sorry about those teenage years, Mom!) but I never really understood the depth of that love until I had children of my own. I remember laying in the dim lights of the hospital room the night after Gracie was born, holding my baby in my arms and thinking, “This is how my mother feels about me,” and being amazed at the enormity of that love. I finally “got it” and was humbled at the realization of how loved I truly was.

Three beautiful ladies!

Three beautiful ladies!

We had a wonderful day with family. The kids enjoyed being at the farm, playing with the animals, milking the goats and playing games. It was a blessed day!

Mimi and Tyler playing soccer..

Mimi and Tyler playing soccer..

Toby taming "mean Eddie" the grumpy rooster.

Toby taming “mean Eddie”… the grumpy rooster.

Eddie had to have a "time out" on the fence post, much to Tyler's delight.

Eddie had to have a “time out” on the fence post, much to Tyler’s delight.

Toby making friends :)

Toby making friends 🙂

When it was time to go we said good-bye to family and headed down the driveway. About halfway down the long dirt road Tyler started getting upset and refused to buckle up. “I’m not leaving,” he said, “I’m going to live here forever!” He refused to buckle up and so Toby scooped him out of the car and dropped him in the grass to finish his temper tantrum outside. We sat in the car and waited for him to calm down. I’m sure the neighbors were wondering what we were doing as we sat in the driveway staring off into the field where Tyler sat.  As I watched Tyler work his way through the frustration he was feeling I thought to myself..”Happy Mother’s Day to me!”

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It had been a long weekend, a tiring weekend, but also a blessed weekend as I celebrated the women I love and the joy of motherhood. I am grateful for my babies, each and every one of them…

even that dirty little boy

with the tear streaked face

who is frightening away all the field mice

in the tall grass

of rural Ohio…

Happy Mother’s Day!

Look who lost a tooth on the way home!

Look who lost a tooth on the way home!

Kalahari Adventure!

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On the road to Kahahari!

On the road to Kalahari!

Tuesday morning Toby stayed home from work and it wasn’t because of illness or injury..we were going on a road trip!!! We began packing the car as soon as everybody was up and were on the road to Kalahari Indoor Waterpark by 9:00am. This is our second year going on this trip with some of our homeschooling friends. A previous co-op member plans this excursion for her church each year and books a block of rooms at a discounted price then opens it up to friends and family. It is an amazing deal! For $25 per person we get an overnight stay at their beautiful resort and two all day passes at their amazing indoor waterpark.

We made it!

We made it!

It took us around 2 1/2 hours to drive there. When we arrived Tyler was shaking with excitement and in full “Tigger” mode, bouncing around the lobby eager to see everything. While Toby checked us in Rusty took Tyler over to see a lion cub they had in the lobby that you could pay to have your picture taken with. After checking in we carried our bags to our room before heading to the waterpark. When we arrived at our room Tyler was amazed..”Look,” he kept saying, “there is a phone, and shampoo, and a trashcan!” He was simply amazed at our amenities. 🙂 He especially liked the hole in the door and kept asking the kids to lift him up so he could peek into the hallway.

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When everyone was dressed in their swimsuits we took the elevator down to the waterpark. When we walked in Tyler’s mouth fell open in awe, much the same way ours did last year when we saw it for the first time. It is really a sight to see. The room is filled with water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, a large indoor water playground, a water rollercoaster, etc. We quickly “claimed” our spot and spots for our friends who would be arriving later and then started playing!

Toby and his girls..off to ride the slides!

Toby and his girls..off to ride the slides!

Tyler and Rusty enjoyed the indoor playground

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In the afternoon friends from our homeschool co-op began to arrive and we didn’t see  much of our kids after that. The older three had fun riding rides with their buddies while we kept Tyler with us. We tag-teamed our way through the day with Toby taking Tyler on the water slides and then Tyler coming with me to the pools and playgrounds so Toby could have a break. It worked out really well. Tyler played hard and by 6:00 was asking if we could go back to the room and go to sleep. 

Buddies arrive..WooHoo!

Buddies arrive..WooHoo!

Rusty's favorite slide was the Cheetah Racer. Rusty and Tyler racing...

 We decided to leave the park an hour before closing to change for dinner. Some of our co-op group decided to order pizza and have a party in the hotel rather than going out to a restaurant. We found a quiet lobby located off one of the hallways and had our pizza party there. Some of my resourceful friends planned ahead and brought plates/napkins and side dishes to go with the pizza. It was fun to sit and visit. We brought some board games so the kids played Curses (a good party game) while the adults talked.

Our pizza party in the lobby. Notice the kids using luggage trolleys as tables. :)

Our pizza party in the lobby. Notice the kids using luggage trolleys as tables. 🙂

Game time

When we returned to the room the kids all fell asleep within ten minutes and then slept until 8:30am. It was the best sleep we have had in a long time!  When we woke we packed up our bags and checked out of our room on our way to breakfast. We decided to go to Steak N’ Shake with another family from co-op. We were lured in by the “All you can eat pancakes for $3.99” advertisement. We thought that if we could have a nice big breakfast then we could avoid buying lunch at the waterpark and save some money. It worked out well!

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Tyler and his buddy, Joram.

We were back at the park by 10:30am and stayed until 7:00pm.

Toby and his boys

Toby and his boys

One of the fun activities Kalahari offers is a wave rider that simulates an ocean wave that you can learn to ride. Toby, Grace, Molly and Rusty all gave it a try…

Toby was the best of the group!

Toby was the best of the group!

Miss Molly pushing off the wall..

...and she's got it!

…and she’s got it!

After the Wave Rider Rusty headed back to the calmer waves of the Wave Pool. 🙂

Rusty in the wave pool.

Rusty in the wave pool.

Everyone had their favorite rides. Mine was the “adults only” hot tub 😉 but the rest of the group decided the “toilet bowl” was the best ride at Kalahari. Here are Grace, Molly and Tyler going down the “toilet bowl”… as they have named it. 🙂

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"Hi Dad!"

“Hi Dad!”

It was soon time to go, much to Tyler’s disappointment!  Thanks Kalahari..we had a blast! 

"Please Momma..just one more ride?"

“Please Momma..just one more ride?”