Friday, August 15, 2014

Evan: 17 Months

Evan, my lovey little monkey bug!

This month, you are in love with:

eating (sometimes 3 breakfasts by the time I've sat down to mine)
"jumping" off the hearth
climbing high
getting your way
playing along with the big kids (little munchkin)
exploring the world
 and barely pausing to rest

On our trip to Lake Almanor, you were a fan of:

eating snacks (and throwing them)
sitting by the stream (usually on Mama's lap)

going up and down three flights of stairs
waking up multiple times a night (still happening. ugh.)
throwing things in the water

You are not such a fan of:
being left behind or put down when you're not completely ready
getting your hands dirty (Maddie thought of that one, and it's true)
having your face wiped

Our favorite things about you right now:
your babbling and conversation-making
you crack yourself up
how you give kisses
your animal sounds "woo woo!" (dog) "Oooooo" (cow) "owwww" (kitty)
how good you are at throwing

Every day you make us laugh, and you make us tired. Thanks for bringing so much joy to our lives, Evan Michael! XOXO

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Maddie: 70 Months

Oh, Maddie girl!
Leading a Hula Show at our Neighborhood Luau
 These days, you are:
Daddy's girl, utterly and completely
Best Big Sister. Ever.

You love to:
play with Evan
tease Sam
please your Daddy
make your Daddy laugh
sing and make up songs

be still, my ever-lovin' heart

Not loving so much:
practicing your violin
Sam leaning on you or touching you in the car

You can't wait for school to start. You had a dream that you were in Mrs. Maghami's class and it made you so, so happy. You ask every few days "How much longer?" I love this about you.

We've really seen growth in you in the area of apologizing. In just a few months, you've become so quick to apologize, to seek reconciliation, and to admit when you are wrong. This is HUGE. For years, if you messed up, you would run away and hide. You are learning grace and it is impacting your relationships in such an amazing way. Man, am I ever thankful.

It's a joy and privilege to be your Mama. You fill my days with joy and make my job so much easier with how helpful you are, especially with the baby. Thank you.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Sam: 65 Months

Oh, Sammy Sam!

These days, you are:
mischievous & sneaky
scary smart

"Mom, take a picture of me pretending to fall off the dock!"

You are Mr. Negotiator. I had forgotten this "lovely" stage until I found myself smack dab in a drop-down, drag-out, political lobbyist-worthy, FBI hostage professional NEGOTIATION. About something ridiculous, like cookies for breakfast. Right before Maddie started Kindergarten I couldn't wait for her to be in school, arguing about nothing with someone else. And, as luck would have it, here we are again, this time with you.

It's shameful to admit, but Daddy and I are jealous of your body. You are a tall, lean, muscle machine with the abs of a fitness model. 

And, at times, you are the sweetest bunch of honey numpkins that your Mama ever did see. Thanks for being my snuggle bug, sugar buns, hand holder, lip kisser, favorite five year-old boy.

You love to:
create & copy intricate drawings
make things out of junk
collect "treasure"
take risks
make your sister crazy
go on dates

You aren't such a fan of:
being told "no"
not getting dessert
Maddie singing or making noises of any kind in the car next to you

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Evan: 15 Months

At fifteen glorious months, you are:
hilariously, side-splittingly funny
amazingly easygoing
freakin' adorable

You love:
"tickling" people
dumping things out and turning things over
hitting things and people
throwing balls
playing chase and peekaboo with Maddie & Sam

You say:
No No
Bye (on occasion)
and a whole lot of unintelligible babble 

This month you:
travelled over 7 hours in the car two times in three days and were a STAR
threw yourself into the pool a handful of times
put your hand in fresh stain and then put a handprint on the neighbor's white corvette
gave yourself several goose eggs and bruises
hit and bit several family members
fell back asleep in daddy's arms and then slept in our bed with us until 9:30 in the morning
made us laugh *googleplex* times
gave lots of kisses
brightened each day

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Maddie: 68 Months

At 7 years, 6 months, you are:
fiercely determined
fiercely devoted
loving, patient & kind
easily frustrated
a very hard worker

Softball season was a mix of:
getting frustrated
overcoming obstacles
fierce determination
enthusiastic cheering

You love:
Evan kisses
Evan snuggles
playing with Evan
hitting the ball hard
swimming with friends
spending time with Daddy
making Daddy laugh by doing crazy dances

You are NOT a fan of:
talking about your day on the way home from school
striking out
pesky brothers
disappointing others

You spend your days:
playing with Sam & Evan
working hard at school
diligently applying yourself to your homework without complaining
practicing violin and improving each week
making up songs, dances, & stories

Friday, June 13, 2014

everyday grace

Today I found grace in the most unlikely of places: an AT&T service call and Safeway. Specifically, I talked grace, marriage, love and psychology with a customer service representative and got to see my girl experience grace from a grocery store checker.

Our first day of Summer vacation started with fighting. A lot of fighting. Two big kids who are having a real hard time trying to negotiate spending all day together. Vying for attention. Selecting games to play and movies to watch. Choosing what to eat. By 10:30 this morning I was tired of getting involved in the minor skirmishes and ready to put everyone in a long time out.

So we packed up the car and headed to the park. The baby fell asleep in his carseat and I watched from the parked car as the kids ran to explore a new playground. I pulled out my AT&T bill, prepared myself for battle, and sighed as I started to dial the phone. "Lord help me," I exhaled, as I made a mental list of all the reasons I should be angry and justified in my frustrations. 

And the Lord answered my prayer. My puny, self-centered, frustrated cry for help landed me on the phone with Amy, customer service rep at AT&T, and by far the nicest service person with whom I've ever had the pleasure of spending an hour and a half on the phone. Not only did she fix all the problems, but saved us money and waived a major installation fee ($99!) As I waited for everything to get cleared, we had the opportunity to talk about God's grace on my marriage and the Spirit's work in enabling Ben and I to be happily married fourteen years in. We talked about the importance of spending time with kids and God's grace in allowing me the time at home with my little monkeys. She complimented my patience and kind words with my kids who constantly interrupted the phone call. She shared her own hopes of putting her psychology degree to work one day, maybe even doing marriage counseling like Ben and I have the honor of walking through in this season of our lives with members of our church.

God took a potentially major frustration of my day and turned it right around into one of the highlights.

Then I had to take all three kids to the grocery store. Not exactly my idea of a good time. Maddie had brought along her own wallet, jammed full of change and dollar bills, and picked out a brightly colored stuffed bear from the floral department to purchase. We talked about the cost of the bear ($5) and the size of her savings, the fact she has several other stuffed animals, etc. (essentially trying to talk her out of spending her money). Her strong will and oral argument skills prevailed and I decided to let her spend her money.

At the checkout, the grocery store clerk asked us several questions about our day, shared about his own kids, and tried to talk Maddie out of buying the bear! "Do you really need another stuffed animal?" he asked. Maddie replied, "My mom is allowing me to spend my own money as I see fit." The bear didn't have a price and he tried multiple scans before calling over a manager for an override. The fee: $1. The sweet man purposely gave Maddie a considerable discount, making her promise to come back and tell him the name she had chosen for her bear.

Today God chose to extend grace in the most unlikely of places. It turned my frustrating day into a marvelous encounter with the divine. I'm so grateful for a God who shows up in the everyday, mundane tasks and shows me his everyday, marvelous love.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oregon! My Oregon!

Memorial Day weekend the kids and I drove up to Oregon to meet up with my parents, brothers, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew. It was epic. The kids were AMAZING in the long car rides--3 hour stretches with just one stop each way (7 hours total trip)! We stayed at a hotel right on the Rogue River and enjoyed a handful of adventures in our short weekend.

We enjoyed awesome dinner and drinks at a lodge right on the river, a short walk from our hotel. The kids were kind enough to pose for a picture. Oldest cousin is nearly 13 and Evan is 14 months! In between we have 10, 7, 7, and 5. Grammy & Papa look way too young to have such grown up grandchildren.

Sunday we explored Jacksonville, with its quaint historic buildings and fun little shops. The girls really enjoyed shopping together and the guys didn't seem to mind tagging along.

On Sunday night we enjoyed a long speedboat trip down the river. We did lots of spinning 180s, got really wet, napped (Evan), saw wild osprey and bald eagles, motored through Hell's Gate, and enjoyed an amazing all-you-can-eat dinner on the banks of the river with all our boat friends. 

After dinner the sun was going down and the kids were skipping rocks. We snapped a few more photos as long as the cousins were all together:

It's soooo hard to live far away from our families, whom we love so much. But trips like this are sure to stick in the kids' memories and they love their Oregon family so much.

Thanks, Painters, for an awesome trip! We miss you and can't wait to come up in just a few short weeks.